There are essentially six major groups of nutrients. They are water, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Now there is another group that is not numbered with these six but is nevertheless important for your diet. That is electrolytes. Electrolytes are actually minerals, but they are often spoken of as having a different function. Probably the most important electrolyte for the human diet is potassium. Potassium can be found in potatoes, bananas, mushrooms, cucumbers, and believe it or not, coffee.
Coffee is already the number one source of antioxidants in the Western diet, and it turns out, it can actually help deliver potassium to our bodies. One 8oz cup of coffee contains about 118 mg of potassium. This is great news because we in the Western world drink a lot of coffee. It also turns out that we don’t get enough potassium. So, is the solution to drink gallons of coffee? We wish it were that easy- we love coffee too! In this article, we will take a closer look to see what role coffee can play in getting you more potassium. But first, we need to understand what exactly an electrolyte is.
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential minerals that are water-soluble. When dissolved in water, the fluid becomes conductive to electricity. Let’s use an example. Salt is a mineral and an electrolyte. It is composed of sodium chloride (NaCl). When salt is placed in water and dissolves, the sodium and chloride separate. That water now is more electrically conductive. Electrical conductivity is vital to overall cell health. Potassium, since it is an electrolyte, can help with this.
At least 4500 mg of Potassium is required for your body per day. However, in our vegetable-deprived diet, we often get much less. But the good news for us is that coffee contains potassium. We can get our fix and help our cell health at the same time.
How Much Potassium Is in Coffee?
One 8oz cup of coffee contains about 118 mg of potassium. This is surprising for a beverage, especially one we often think of as having no calories. While this is true, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t nutritional value in coffee. That being said, coffee cannot be the main source of potassium in your diet. If you drink four cups a day, you are not even getting 500 mg of potassium, which is barely more than 10% of your diet. But don’t discount it as a minor supplement to your potassium intake. If you add a splash of milk or cream, you could be getting about 40 mg extra of potassium as well.
Among all the foods that contain potassium, one shines out above the rest for its potassium content. That is a banana. One medium-sized banana contains roughly 420 mg of potassium. Grabbing a banana is easy. They’re tasty and you can eat them relatively quickly. It staves off hunger too, so you’re not reaching for that bag of chips in between meals. However, the banana is simply the most popular of potassium-rich foods, and while it contains a lot (certainly more than coffee) even a medium-sized russet potato contains 620 mg of potassium.
Is Coffee Bad for Your Kidneys?
As it relates to potassium, for a person in good health, coffee is not bad for your kidneys. However, for those suffering from kidney disease and hyperkalemia (excess of potassium in the blood), it would be good to lay off the coffee. Those who suffer from kidney disease have an impaired ability to filter electrolytes in the body. The result is the retention of too many minerals and electrolytes.
Excess caffeine consumption has also been linked to kidney stones. But a moderate amount (1 – 3 cups per day) should not hurt you.
If you’re looking for that boost in the morning from your cup of coffee, then you can count on it for substantial caffeine content. It’s also the number one source of antioxidants in the western diet. It also provides a nice little potassium bonus. Most of us probably didn’t know that we were getting that! But the best way to get potassium in your diet is to eat potassium-rich foods. Eating a banana in the morning with your coffee is a great way to start the day!
SEE ALSO: Are There Tannins in Coffee?
Featured Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels