Body & Fitness

Why potassium is good for you

Potassium is an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity in the body...

**Vitamin math: potassium

**Potassium is an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity in the body (other electrolytes include sodium chloride, calcium and magnesium). It’s crucial to heart function and plays a key role in muscle contraction, making it important for normal digestive and muscle function. Potassium also helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Other sources of potassium include fruit, vegetables, potatoes and lean meats.

Each of 50g (shelled weight) pistachios (520mg), 250ml glass of orange juice (375mg), a pint of semi-skimmed milk (886mg) or a medium tomato (219mg) contains the RDA of 2000mg of potassium.

The body’s speedometer: coughing

Like a sneeze, the cough is a protective reflex. It clears the upper airways and lungs of irritants such as viruses, pollutants or mucus. Cough speeds range from 1.5 metres per second to 28.8 metres per second or around 102kph – almost as fast as hurricane force winds. A cough starts when the nerve endings in the throat and lungs send signals to the brain’s cough centre, which also controls our breathing.

Tiny air tubes – bronchi – in the lungs contract to power the exhalation. The lungs then expel the air through the mouth. A cough is far slower than a sneeze (up to 165kph) because it does not require as much muscle power.

Happy couples

*Foods that are better for you when eaten together.

*Drizzle sunflower oil on tomatoes to protect from cancer. Eating tomatoes with any type of oil or fat means you’ll absorb more lycopene, associated with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. But opt for a drizzle of sunflower oil and the benefits could be greater, especially for men. A 2007 study found lycopene and vitamin E together suppressed growth of prostate cancer cells in mice, while the two given individually did not.

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