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Every time you eat fruit, chances are you’re getting significant amounts of vitamin C, dietary fiber and potassium. Most varieties are rich in at least one – if not all three – of these important nutrients. While blueberries are no exception – they’re a good source of fiber, an excellent source of vitamin C and contain high levels of antioxidant compounds – they won’t give your potassium intake much of a boost.
You’ll get about 130 milligrams of potassium from a 1-cup serving of fresh blueberries, according to the American Dietetic Association. For a food to qualify as a good source of potassium, it must provide at least 10 percent of the recommended daily value – or about 350 milligrams – per serving. Foods that deliver at least 20 percent of the daily value for potassium per serving – or around 700 milligrams – are viewed as excellent sources. Blueberries are considered a low-potassium food because they supply just 4 percent of the recommended daily value per serving.
Potassium is an electrolyte that works closely with sodium to keep fluids and minerals balanced throughout your body. Sodium is primarily found outside cell walls, whereas potassium carries out most of its work from inside your cells. Getting enough potassium helps counteract the effects of sodium, reduce high blood pressure, protect against kidney stones and minimize bone loss. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, most healthy adults should get at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day 3. If you take certain medications or have kidney problems, however, you may need less.
Although most berries are higher in potassium than blueberries, very few varieties are good sources of the nutrient. Cranberries are the only common berry that contain less potassium – about 70 milligrams per cup – than blueberries, according to the book “Wellness Foods A to Z: An Indispensable Guide for Health-Conscious Food Lovers.” Red raspberries provide about 190 milligrams of potassium per cup, making them comparable to blueberries 4. A cup of strawberries has closer to 250 milligrams of potassium, while you’ll get right around 300 milligrams from a serving of blackberries, gooseberries or currants. With just over 400 milligrams per cup, elderberries qualify as a good source of potassium.
If you’re specifically trying to boost your potassium intake, you’d be better off eating raisins, prunes, apricots, oranges, papaya, kiwifruit, cantaloupe or bananas. One average-size banana has about three times more potassium than a cup of blueberries. Eating blueberries does have its benefits, though. They’re relatively low in calories and sugar compared to most fruit – a 1-cup serving provides just 80 calories and 15 grams of sugar. They also supply about 4 grams of fiber and right around 20 percent each of the daily values for vitamins C and E. Unusually high flavonoid levels help make blueberries one of the best sources of antioxidants available.
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Potassium
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Potassium Content of Foods
- Institute of Medicine of the National Academies: Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride and Sulfate
- Wellness Foods A to Z: An Indispensable Guide for Health-Conscious Food Lovers; Sheldon Margen, M.D.
- American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide; Roberta Larson Duyff, M.S., R.D.
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