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Canned Tuna & Potassium

By Jason Dority

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week for a variety of health benefits. Canned tuna is a great way to fulfill the recommended fish intake as it is low in fat and high in several vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy oils and protein. It provides a minor amount of potassium, an essential mineral and electrolyte.

Potassium Content

In general, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of potassium, but meats and fish can contribute to daily potassium needs as well. A 6-ounce serving of canned light tuna in oil contains 352 milligrams of potassium, or 7.4 percent daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. A 6-ounce serving of canned white tuna in oil contains the highest amount of potassium, with 566 milligrams, or 12 percent daily value. The same serving size of light tuna tuna canned in water contains 304 milligrams of potassium, or 8.6 percent daily value, while white tuna canned in water contains 403 milligrams of potassium, which is over 10 percent of the daily value.

Dietary Reference Intakes

Potassium is an important mineral for proper functioning of the body. The Institute of Medicine recommends 4,700 milligrams per day for adults, adolescents and pregnant women. Children ages 9 to 13 should consume 4,500 milligrams per day, ages 4 to 8 approximately 3,800 milligrams, and ages 1 to 3 about 3,000 milligrams. Infants needs between 400 and 700 milligrams and women who are lactating need 5,100 milligrams, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Function

Potassium functions as a dietary mineral and electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity in the body that is required for the conduction of nerve impulses and muscle contraction. Potassium is required for normal cellular function as is the primary intracellular cation, or positively charged ion in the body. It plays a large role in balancing the fluids of the body and is vital in maintaining the proper contraction of the heart. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, diets rich in potassium are associated with a decreased risk of stroke, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

Pairing Tuna With Potassium

Although tuna doesn't offer a significant amount of potassium, it can easily be paired with foods that do. If you are eating tuna as a salad have it on a bed of greens such as fresh spinach, collard greens or kale. If you are eating tuna on a sandwich, substitute spinach or collard greens for lettuce and be sure to add slices of fresh tomato to the mix, as tomatoes are a good source of potassium according to the UC Davis Health System. You could have tomato soup or nuts as a side dish, and have a cup of fresh melon or peaches for dessert.

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