America's Energy Doctor
Potassium is an important mineral. Your organs, muscle and nerve function, cells, and tissue depend on it, as do a variety of your body’s basic biological processes. It’s also one of the electrolytes (along with sodium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium).
Getting enough potassium in your diet is crucial to maintaining energy, promoting healthy blood pressure levels, and otherwise staying healthy. It also reduces the harmful effects of excessive sodium intake, which is a hallmark of the typical American diet.
What is “enough” potassium? The established adequate intake level for generally healthy teens and adults is 4,700 mg per day. Generally healthy children 1 to 3 years old should get 3,000 mg per day; 4 to 8 years should get 3,800 mg per day; and 9 to 13 years should get 4,500 mg per day.
Make sure you and your family members eat a number of potassium-rich whole foods every day. Deficiencies can be dangerous. Keeping up your intake helps you feel and perform your best, and it can help reduce your risk for developing lots of problems, like kidney stones, hypertension, osteoporosis, heart disease, and stroke.
Best Dietary Sources of Potassium
The following foods are all nutritious choices that are easy to recommend, not only for their potassium content. Eat them!
- Bananas are the most famous food source of potassium, though they don’t have the highest content (422 mg in an average one)
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes are two of the foods that pack in even more potassium than bananas, offering about 700 to over 900 mg depending on size
- Leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, cabbage, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, and romaine lettuce are loaded with nutrients, including potassium
- Yogurt is a good dairy item that supplies a significant quantity of potassium, averaging close to 600 mg per 8-ounce serving
- Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit—as well as their juices—are an easy way to get a decent helping of potassium
- Tomatoes, tomato juice, and tomato sauce all deliver plenty of potassium, too
- Other fruits and vegetables high in potassium include avocados, plums and prunes, apricots, grapes and raisins, cantaloupe, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, beets, artichokes, carrots, bell peppers, and squashes
- Legumes like peanuts, white beans, lima beans, lentils, kidney beans, soybeans, pinto beans, and peas are smart picks for this mineral as well
- Animal sources that are healthy protein choices and high in potassium include salmon, scallops, clams, cod, flounder, tuna, halibut, trout, and chicken
- Molasses are a nutritious, potassium-rich alternative to other sweeteners like sugar and honey, offering around 400 mg per tablespoon