Potassium rich foods will help you incorporate this mineral in your balanced diet. It’s crucial to eat enough potassium each day to feel your best and to help prevent many chronic diseases.
Potassium is an important player in optimal health. This mineral is part of each cell in the body and our life would be impossible without it. It is often taken for granted, despite its great role in maintain fluid balance and keeping your nerves, muscles, brain, and heart functioning normally on a regular basis 1 2 . But, many people are not getting enough potassium from their diet.
Potassium Rich Foods
High-potassium foods are a key part of any healthy diet: The mineral helps keep the nervous system functioning properly, aids in waste removal and muscular function, and helps to regulate the body’s fluid levels.3
A deficiency in potassium can cause muscular weakness, depression, insomnia, fatigue, and many cardiovascular problems. Although individuals with kidney issues should avoid consuming too many high-potassium foods, most adults should intake around 4,700 milligrams per day (below you can find more about the daily dosage) 4 . Here are ten high-potassium foods that will help you reach that number:
- Sweet potato (with skin), medium, baked: 694 mg
- Winter squash, cubed, 1 cup, cooked: 896 mg
- Potato (with skin), medium, baked: 610 mg
- Banana, 1 medium: 422 mg
- White beans, canned, drained, 1/2 cup: 595 mg
- Halibut, 3 ounces, cooked: 490 mg
- Fat- free yogurt, 1 cup: 579 mg
- Milk, 1% low fat, 8 ounces: 366 mg
- 100% orange juice, 8 ounces: 496 mg
- Broccoli, 1 cup, cooked: 457 mg
- Pork tenderloin, 3 ounces, cooked: 382 mg
- Farmed Atlantic salmon, 3 ounces, cooked: 326 mg
- Lentils, ½ cup, cooked: 366 mg
- Pistachios, shelled, 1 ounce, dry roasted: 295 mg
- Tuna, light, canned, drained, 3 ounces: 201 mg
- Chicken breast, 3 ounces, cooked: 218 mg
- Cantaloupe, cubed, 1 cup: 431 mg
- Raisins, 1/4 cup: 250 mg
Potassium Health Benefits
As we mentioned before, we need to consume potassium rich foods for optimal health. Here are some of the most impressive health benefits of potassium:
- Reduced Risk of Stroke
Numerous observational studies have shown that those with high potassium levels has a lower risk of stroke 5 6 . The potassium benefits are likely through a drop of blood pressure together with a diet high in vegetables and fruits.
One of the key benefits of eating high potassium foods is improved muscle strength and decreased muscle cramping 7 . Muscle cramps are side effects of low potassium levels. This could occur if an athlete gets dehydrated and is not eating enough potassium-rich foods before and after a workout.
- Alleviation of High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Research shows that high potassium diet, especially potassium from fruits and veggies, lowers blood pressure. This is particularly true if the increase in potassium foods isn’t accompanied by an increase in foods high in sodium.8
- Osteoporosis Protection
Research have found a strong relation between increased intake of dietary potassium and increased bone density. These studies were true even for older men and post- menopausal women.9
- Reduced Cellulite Appearance
Fluid retention is one of the main causes of cellulite buildup. Most people eat far too much sodium and not close enough potassium. Moreover, sodium transports nutrients into the cells where potassium assists flush excess waste out of the cells 10 . Hence, if you reduce sodium intake and start eating potassium rich foods you will reduce the appearance of cellulite.
How much potassium do I need?
- Adolescents between 14 -18 years old, adults over the age of 19, and pregnant women need to consume around 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day.
- Infants and kids up to the age of 13 need between 400-3,800 milligrams depending on their weight and age.
- Nursing women over the age of 14 require more: 5,100 milligrams daily 11 .
There are two ways to fulfill your recommended daily allowance: by taking a potassium supplement and by regularly consuming plenty of potassium-rich foods.
What Happens If Your Potassium Intake Is Not Enough?
By consuming a healthy diet, on a constant basis, you should naturally eat plenty of potassium. Unluckily, many people in the U.S. don’t eat a healthy enough diet. Because of the low potassium levels in their diet, numerous suffer from arthritis, stroke, high blood pressure, and other health related problems. Usually, health professionals will recommend potassium supplements for these individuals to help maintain appropriate potassium levels.
Most of the deficiencies of potassium occur in persons who have jobs that are physically demanding, use certain medications like diuretics, are athletes, have a kidney disease or health condition which affects potassium absorption like Crohn’s disease, have eating disorders, use alcohol or drugs, or smoke.
Potassium Deficiency (Hypokalemia)
Severe potassium deficiency is common in individuals who have an eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia, absorption disorders as Crohn’s disease, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or any illness that causes frequent vomiting and diarrhea. It’s also more likely in individuals who sweat excessively from living in a hot climate or from physical exertion.
Potassium deficiency, also called hypokalemia, is characterized by constipation, cramping, abdominal pain, fatigue, muscle weakness, and bloating. If left untreated, potassium deficiency could cause paralysis and possibly fatal heart arrhythmia. 12
A potassium-rich diet that includes nuts, fresh fruits and veggies are superior to supplementation when it comes to filling our potassium requirement. Don’t start taking potassium supplements till you’ve first spoken to your GP.
Potassium supplements may cause stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. High doses can cause an irregular heartbeat, mental confusion, black stools, and a tingling or burning sensation in the feet, hands, and limbs.13
The supplements may also interfere with the proper function of beta-blockers, diuretics, digoxin, heparin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and cyclosporine. Avoid taking potassium supplements if you experience any form of kidney disease.
In order to keep a healthy brain and heart, you need to ensure you have potassium included into your diet. Low potassium levels may lead to an irregular heartbeat, vomiting, nausea, mood swings, weak muscles, or a combination.
Having an adequate intake of potassium – eating potassium rich foods or taking potassium supplements – will help prevent kidney stones, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, strokes, and many other heart and nerve diseases.