Yogurt, milk and cream are dairy products that are among the high potassium foods. Not all dairy products are high potassium foods, though. Notice the table in the last post did not have any butter or cheese. These usually have far more sodium than potassium and so they do not have the healthy effects on blood pressure, bone density and kidney stones that the foods high in potassium have. Ice cream is a dairy product that usually has a favorable potassium to sodium ratio, and generally will provide over 200 mg of potassium in 3.5 oz of ice cream. But since most people think of it as a dessert, we will discuss it further in a future post on desserts.
The table in the last post showed that all milk had a better than 3:1 ratio of potassium to sodium, whether it was whole, nonfat or in between. Low sodium milk had an 84:1 ratio of potassium to sodium. Cream had a better than 3 to 1 ratio of potassium to sodium, as did yogurt.
Almost all of the natural cheeses have a high sodium content, with the amount of sodium being many times the amount of potassium. Gjetost cheese is an exception. Although it has a lot of sodium, it is packed with potassium. In 100 grams of cheese, Gjetost cheese has 1409 mg potassium (almost 1/3 the daily recommended amount), even without having a low sodium variety. It also has 600 mg sodium, so it does not fit the 3:1 ratio, but still provides a great amount of potassium.
The other cheeses that have a good 3 to 1 ratio of potassium to sodium are the low or no sodium variety. Low sodium varieties of Swiss, Cheddar, Colby, American and Cottage Cheese have favorable ratios, but have low amounts of potassium also – usually less than 100 mg in a 3.5 oz serving.
Many people have a lactase deficiency and avoid dairy products. The unpleasant side effects of taking dairy products can be avoided by them if they take lactase with the dairy product, but for most it is easier simply to avoid dairy products.
One concern about dairy products is the saturated fat content in whole milk and other dairy products. This can counteract the healthy heart and stroke prevention advantages of food with a high potassium content. Even for those without lactose intolerance, concerns about saturated fats will limit them to low fat or nonfat milk products. However, the low fat and nonfat milk and yogurt products will have just as good a potassium content as whole milk or regular yogurt. The only disadvantage of the low fat/nonfat products for some is the change in taste.
A great advantage of milk is the favorable 2 to 3 ratio of protein to carbohydrate. This ratio blunts the release of insulin, preventing the blood sugar spike followed by a dip in blood sugar two hours after a meal. Plain yogurt has a similar ratio and provides similar spike prevention, but the commercial brands of yogurt have sugar added that markedly increases the carbohydrates and subsequent blood sugar spike.