Potassium is an important nutrient for many body processes. Bananas are a well-known source of potassium, but many other foods contain just as much — if not more — of this nutrient.
Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate fluid and blood levels in the body. Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of potassium. Meat, milk, yogurt, and nuts are also good sources.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a diet high in potassium and low in sodium — an electrolyte in table salt and processed foods — can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The adequate intake (AI) of potassium for adults is currently 3,400 milligrams (mg) per day for men and 2,600 mg for women.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the daily value (DV) of potassium — the daily intake that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend — will increase to 4,700 mg in January 2020.
Several dried fruits are high in potassium. Apricots are a bright orange fruit that people may eat either fresh or dried.
Half a cup of dried apricots contains 1,101 mg of potassium. These fruits also provide other key nutrients, such as iron and antioxidants.
When purchasing dried apricots, a person should look for those that contain no added sugar. They can eat dried apricots as a snack or add them to salads or main meals.
Potatoes are an excellent source of potassium. Baked potatoes with the skin still on are the best option, as much of a potato’s potassium is in the skin.
One medium baked potato with skin contains 941 mg of potassium. By eating a baked potato with salt-free seasoning, a person can avoid extra sodium.
French fries are usually lacking in nutrients and contain added fat from oil and the frying process, making them a less healthful option. Fries also typically contain high amounts of sodium, which can counteract the benefits of potassium.
Leafy greens are some of the most nutritious foods available. One study found that eating a serving per day of leafy green vegetables may help slow age-related cognitive decline.
- A cup of cooked Swiss chard contains 962 mg of potassium.
- A cup of cooked amaranth leaves contains 846 mg.
- A cup of cooked spinach contains up to 838 mg.
Lentils are a small, round legume. They contain plenty of fiber and are also rich in protein.
One cup of cooked lentils contains 731 mg of potassium.
Lentils make a good addition to soups or stews. People looking for a quicker option can use canned rather than dried lentils. However, it is important to rinse canned lentils well before use to remove any sodium.
Prunes are dried plums. Due to their high fiber content and other chemical properties, many people use prunes or prune juice to help relieve constipation. Juice companies usually make prune juice by adding water back into the prunes, cooking them, and then filtering out the solids.
There are 707 mg of potassium in one cup of canned prune juice, while half a cup of dried prunes contains 699 mg.
Fresh tomatoes offer several health benefits. To get more potassium, though, it is best to use concentrated tomato products, such as tomato puree or tomato juice.
Half a cup of tomato puree contains 549 mg of potassium, and a cup of tomato juice contains 527 mg.
Fresh tomatoes also contain potassium, with one medium raw tomato containing 292 mg.
People often use tomato puree in cooking, for example, adding it to pasta sauces. Canned or bottled tomato juice is also suitable to use in many recipes, or people can drink it.
Some varieties of juice contain high amounts of potassium. However, many health organizations recommend that people avoid juices with added sugar. Whole fruit contains more fiber than juice and often more nutrients as well.
The following juices are high in potassium, containing the following amounts per cup:
- carrot juice (canned): 689 mg
- passion fruit juice: 687 mg
- pomegranate juice: 533 mg
- orange juice (fresh): 496 mg
- vegetable juice (canned): 468 mg
- tangerine juice (fresh): 440 mg
Raisins are another type of dried fruit that is high in potassium. Raisins are a popular snack food.
Half a cup of raisins contains 618 mg of potassium.
For the most healthful type, opt for raisins that contain only dried grapes with no added sugar, coatings, or other ingredients.
Beans come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Most contain a high amount of fiber, some protein, and a good dose of potassium.
Kidney beans are red, kidney-shaped legumes that people often use in soups, chili, or as a side dish of baked beans.
A cup of canned kidney beans contains 607 mg of potassium.
Many other beans are also high in potassium. The amounts per half cup serving are as follows:
- adzuki beans: 612 mg
- white (cannellini) beans: 595 mg
- lima beans: 478 mg
- great northern beans: 460 mg
- black beans: 401 mg
- canned refried beans: 380 mg
- navy beans: 354 mg
People typically think of dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, as being rich sources of calcium. However, some dairy products are also a good way to add more potassium to the diet.
Studies suggest that in the United States, milk is the top source of potassium among adults. A cup of 1% milk contains 366 mg.
Many people also get their potassium from tea and coffee. An 8-ounce (oz) cup of brewed black coffee contains 116 mg of potassium, which would classify it as a low potassium food, but adding creamers and milk raises the potassium content considerably.
Other dairy products also contain potassium. For instance, one cup of plain nonfat yogurt contains up to 579 mg.
Sweet potatoes have orange flesh and a sweeter flavor than white potatoes. Their orange color means that they provide more beta carotene than other potatoes, but they also contain potassium.
A baked sweet potato with the skin still on contains 542 mg of potassium.
For the most healthful option, a person should eat baked or microwaved sweet potatoes without added sugar. It is also best to avoid canned sweet potatoes that the manufacturers have packaged in syrup.
Fish and shellfish contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats. The American Heart Association recommend eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least twice a week. Certain types of seafood are also good sources of potassium.
Wild Atlantic salmon and clams lead the way with 534 mg of potassium per 3-oz serving.
The same serving size of other types of seafood high in potassium offers:
- mackerel: up to 474 mg
- halibut: 449 mg
- snapper: 444 mg
- rainbow trout: up to 383 mg
Avocado is a buttery fruit that contains a variety of nutrients, including heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and vitamins C, E, and K. Avocados also contain nearly 5 grams of fiber in half a cup.
Avocados are a good source of potassium, providing 364 mg in a half-cup serving.
People can eat avocados raw in salads, as dips, or on toast. They also work well in cooked meals, such as pasta dishes.
Some people may wonder about using supplements to boost their potassium intake. Only a few studies have investigated the effects of potassium supplements, and some suggest that the body can absorb potassium as well from supplements as it can from food.
However, the ODS say that in many dietary supplements, manufacturers limit the amount of potassium to 99 mg — only about 3% of a person’s DV — due to safety concerns about drugs that contain potassium.
People with kidney problems should be cautious about consuming too much potassium, as this can lead to hyperkalemia, or high levels of potassium in the blood.
Potassium from food, however, does not cause harm in healthy people who have normal kidney function. When the kidneys are functioning well, any excess potassium from food dissolves in water and leaves the body in the urine.
If a person eats a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and legumes, they should get enough potassium in their diet. It is beneficial to balance this by eating low amounts of high sodium foods, such as processed foods and fast food.
This dietary approach can not only help keep potassium at a healthy level, but it may help people obtain a variety of other vitamins and nutrients that occur in whole foods and contribute to better health.