As part of the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label, the Food and Drug Administration is recommending that potassium be added to the list of mandatory label nutrients. Currently, potassium is a voluntary label nutrient, and need only be listed on the Nutrition Facts label if a claim is made about it on the product package. If the proposed change passes, food companies will be required to report the potassium content per serving in most of their products. So, why the new interest in potassium?
The FDA has determined that potassium is one of four “nutrients of public health significance”, meaning that when a diet is deficient in potassium there is an increased risk of chronic disease. It is a primary nutrient that our bodies require for blood pressure regulation. Deficiency symptoms can be serious, threatening the stability of blood pressure and wellness of the heart.
Rich sources of potassium include fruits and vegetables such as bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes. Unfortunately, studies show that Americans are not consuming the required amount of potassium rich foods to maintain health and prevent disease. According to the Institute of Medicine, the average adult needs 4700 mg of potassium per day for health maintenance, a considerable amount compared to the 2700 mg average that most Americans consume. By making the amount of potassium within food products obvious, and encouraging consumers to eat foods with higher potassium levels, the hope is that Americans will start to increase their intake of potassium, and decrease their risk of chronic disease.
If you’re looking for additional assistance in tracking the potassium content in your food, nutritional analysis software and databases can offer extensive support. Many robust programs will also allow you to list foods by potassium content, which is sure to make reaching your potassium intake goal easier than ever before.