Potassium is a nutrient that plays an important role in many bodily functions.
Unfortunately, many people aren’t getting enough.
This article looks at its importance and lists 10 of the best foods high in potassium.
WHY ARE HIGH POTASSIUM FOODS IMPORTANT?
Potassium is a mineral necessary for all living cells.
It helps to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, assist muscle function and keep our blood pressure in check.
In fact, eating enough potassium is thought to be the most important diet tool to combat hypertension (high blood pressure), a risk factor for stroke and heart disease (1).
One review found that a high potassium intake significantly decreased blood pressure and was associated with a 24% lower risk of stroke (2).
Health organizations recommend consuming 3510 to 4700mg of potassium daily. However, these targets are rarely reached in those with Western diets (1).
Fortunately, potassium is abundant and can be found in fruits, vegetables, milk products and fish.
Here are 10 super-healthy high potassium foods:
Bananas are a popular fruit and often top of mind when it comes to high potassium.
One medium sized banana contains 422mg of potassium, which is 9% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI).
Bananas are 90% carbohydrate and contain little protein and fat. They are also a good source of magnesium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, manganese and fiber (3).
Additionally, the fiber in an unripe banana consists of resistant starch. Resistant starch may help to maintain blood sugar levels, promote growth of good gut bacteria and increase feelings of fullness (3).
Summary: One medium banana is high in potassium, providing 9% of the RDI. Bananas are also packed with many other nutrients essential for good health.
2. AVOCADOS ARE HIGH IN POTASSIUM
The avocado is an extremely healthy fruit.
A 100 gram serve of avocado provides 485mg of potassium, which is actually more than bananas.
The potassium is thought to improve blood pressure by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation (4).
Avocados are a unique fruit as they are high in fat rather than carbohydrate. They contain 71% monounsaturated fats which are known for being heart healthy (4).
Despite being high in fat, studies have shown that avocados can help with weight loss and weight maintenance (4).
Avocados can also help us absorb more nutrients. Their distinct fat and water content increases absorption of carotenoids from other foods by 2 to 5 times (4).
Carotenoids may reduce oxidative stress, which is a risk factor for cancer, cardiovascular disease and poor eye health (5).
Summary: Avocados are a rich source of potassium, even better than bananas. A 100 gram serve of avocado provides about 485mg of potassium.
3. WHITE POTATO
The white potato is a staple vegetable and is consumed worldwide.
One medium potato with skin contains 926mg of potassium and just 161 calories.
They are also a significant source of essential vitamins and minerals, rich in magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber and folate (6).
However, many people still don’t consider potatoes to be nutritious, with some claiming they are linked to obesity and diabetes (6).
The problem is often the way they are cooked– with added fats and oils that make it high in calories.
It’s best to stick to boiled or baked potato and avoid fried potatoes and potato chips (crisps). Another trick is to keep the skin on, as several nutrients are concentrated in the skin.
Summary: The white potato is a good source of potassium, particularly when the skin is left on.
4. SWEET POTATO
The sweet potato is a starchy root vegetable packed full of nutrients.
They come in a variety of colors including white, orange, yellow and purple.
Each 100 gram serving of sweet potato provides 475mg of potassium and just 90 calories. That’s a whopping 10% of the RDI.
In addition, they are an excellent source of vitamin A with a 100 gram serve providing 100% of the RDI. Vitamin A is an antioxidant, helps to maintain skin and mucus membranes and is important for eye health (7).
Summary: A 100 gram serve of sweet potato is high in potassium, providing 475mg plus 100% of the RDI for Vitamin A.
5. TOMATO PRODUCTS
Tomatoes are extremely versatile and an important feature of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet.
Although fresh tomatoes contain potassium, tomato products such as tomato paste, puree and juice are a particularly good source. A 100 gram serve of tomato puree provides 439mg and one cup of tomato juice provides 556mg.
The deep red color of tomatoes comes from the carotenoid called lycopene. A high dietary intake of carotenoids has been shown to decrease the risk of some cancers, heart disease and macular degeneration (8, 9).
In addition, tomatoes have an active ingredient called tomatine which is thought to reduce cholesterol levels (10).
Summary: Tomato products such as tomato paste, puree and juice are a particularly good source of potassium. Tomato products may also help fight cancer and heart disease.
Beans are a nutrient-dense and inexpensive addition to any meal.
There are many types of beans. The potassium content of several varieties are:
- White beans = 454mg /100 grams
- Lima beans = 508mg /100 grams
- Pinto beans = 436mg /100 grams
- Kidney beans = 403mg /100 grams
- Navy beans = 389mg /100 grams
One review of 5 studies, including 198,904 people found that four weekly 100 gram serves of legumes, such as beans, was associated with a 14% lower risk of heart disease (11).
Aside from potassium, beans are a significant source of protein. In fact, they can be counted as both a protein source and a vegetable in diet guidelines (12).
In addition, they contain lysine, an essential amino acid that does not exist in grains. This means that adding beans to a rice dish will improve its protein and nutrient profile.
However, note that beans can be problematic for those with a food intolerance – particularly FODMAPs - and may need to be avoided for a set period of time.
Summary: Beans are a potassium rich food. They are also a particularly good source of protein and contain the essential amino acid lysine.
7. DRIED APRICOTS
Dried apricots are a delicious and nutritious snack.
They provide a massive 1162mg of potassium per 100 grams, or 378mg for a typical serving size (¼ cup).
Dried apricots (and dried fruit generally) can be high in antioxidants called phytochemicals, such as phenolics, flavonoids, phytoestrogens and carotenoids (13).
In fact, apricots have the highest amount of phytoestrogens among dried fruits, which may benefit diabetes, bone health, cancer and heart disease.
The caveat here is that they are much higher in sugar than fresh apricots as the water and fiber has been removed. So those who are worried about their blood sugar levels or total calorie intake need to be aware of this.
But overall dried fruit (including apricots) are linked with a higher quality diet if your blood sugar is fine. This is likely because they are a healthier snack than typical junk food alternatives.
In one study of 13,292 participants, those that had a small serve of dried fruit daily had a better nutrient intake and lower intake of fats, sugars and alcohol (14).
Summary: Dried apricots contain 378mg of potassium in a typical serving. But they are not the best choice if you have issues with blood sugar control.
Yogurt is made by fermentation of milk.
It can be eaten as a snack or added to both sweet and savory dishes.
A 100 gram serve of plain full fat yogurt contains 155mg of potassium and is also an excellent source of protein, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and B vitamins.
In addition, yogurt can contain probiotics (live bacteria) that are beneficial to health. For example, probiotics may help with weight loss, protect against diarrhea, reduce cholesterol levels or help manage irritable bowel syndrome (15).
Look for yogurt that contains live cultures to receive the benefit. Quark is also a great high potassium alternative, and is even higher in protein than yogurt.
Summary: Yogurt is very high in potassium, protein, calcium and phosphorous. Some yogurt contains probiotics (live bacteria) that may have several health benefits.
Salmon is a nutritious fatty fish.
Cooked wild salmon contains 628mg of potassium per 100 grams, while farmed salmon has much less at 384mg per 100 gram serve.
Salmon is also high in what’s called omega-3 fatty acids. These fats have an anti-inflammatory effect and can play a beneficial role in many conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, arthritis and cancer (16, 17, 18).
This is even true of tinned salmon varieties, which are much more affordable than fresh or frozen.
Summary: Salmon is a good source of potassium. It’s also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that can be eaten both raw and cooked.
It’s mostly water (91%) but contains small amounts of protein, carbohydrate and fat.
Spinach contains 558mg of potassium per 100 grams, or 167mg for a 1 cup serve (30 grams).
It also has high levels of vitamins A, C and K and provides considerably more magnesium and iron than broccoli, cabbage and lettuce (19).
Additionally, one component of spinach called thylakoids is thought to slow digestion and absorption of fat. This may decrease hunger and promotes fullness, although more studies are needed (19).
Summary: Spinach is a nutritious vegetable. It is high in potassium with 558mg per 100 grams.
EAT MORE FOODS HIGH IN POTASSIUM
Many of us don’t reach our daily potassium requirements.
Fortunately, there are many delicious foods that can make it easily achievable.
The foods listed in this article are all excellent sources of potassium. Making these a part of your regular eating habit will improve health and help fight off chronic disease.