Contributor: Saffron & Sage
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
As the summer months swiftly approach, more and more of us will be happily enjoying the sunny outdoors. During those early morning yoga sessions or relaxing trips to the beach, it is essential to replace what is lost from our body through sweat. Most individuals are well aware of the importance of staying hydrated; however, it is often overlooked that we lose more than just fluids during physical activity. Vital minerals are also lost while we sweat.
Minerals have a large variety of purposes in the body. Their most common purpose is to maintain fluid balance. However, they also play key roles in nutrient absorption, healthy muscle contraction, and bone health along with other structural purposes. While there are a variety of minerals that can be lost in sweat, the major minerals the body requires in higher amounts are: sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Sodium and chloride can easily be consumed by adding a small amount of table salt (also known as sodium chloride) for seasoning. The other major minerals can sometimes be challenging to consciously add to your diet.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are commonly known for being a great source of calcium. They are also great sources of potassium, phosphorus, and contain small amounts of magnesium. Simply adding a serving of Greek yogurt with your breakfast, to a fruit smoothie, or as an afternoon snack can help to increase your major mineral intake.
For those who are lactose intolerant or are unable to consume dairy (whether by choice or because of an allergy), there are plenty of other food sources that are rich in major minerals. High amounts of potassium can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and nuts. Soybeans, artichokes, potatoes, bananas, and acorn squash top the charts with over 400 mg of potassium per serving. Though calcium is most widely associated with dairy products, tofu also contains a substantial amount of this major mineral. Significant amounts of phosphorus can be found in beans, nuts, and especially sunflower seeds. Magnesium can also be found in high amounts in these sources as well. Cashews are an especially rich source of magnesium.
As you incorporate these mineral rich foods into your diet, be aware of the cooking methods that you are using. The best way to ensure you are absorbing all the minerals from your foods is to enjoy your fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dairy products raw or uncooked. However, if you choose to cook your foods, make sure to add a small amount of salt when boiling or steaming and eating your food with the liquid used in the steaming or boiling process.
A wonderful way to get many major minerals easily is to make a delicious, light summer salad. Try a twist on the traditional Greek salad by combining kale, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, Kalamata olives, sunflower seeds, feta cheese, and homemade Tzatziki. As you begin to break free from the indoors after a long winter, remember to not only hydrate but also nourish yourself with important minerals you can lose in your sweat.