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How to add more potassium to diet

A low-potassium diet helps prevent potassium levels in the blood from becoming too high, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. When your blood potassium levels become too high, you may experience muscle weakness or an irregular heartbeat. Patients with heart conditions or impaired kidneys may need a low-potassium diet to control high potassium levels. Knowing what foods not to eat to avoid high potassium levels can help you keep potassium levels in check.

Meats, Beans and Seeds

While many lean meats are safe on a low-potassium diet, certain meats, beans and seeds should be avoided, according to the Cleveland Clinic. To avoid high potassium levels, do not eat canned, salted or preserved meats like hot dogs, sausage, anchovies or sandwich spreads. You may eat bacon in moderation as long as it contains no added salt. Also avoid dried beans and peas as well as sunflower seeds.

  • While many lean meats are safe on a low-potassium diet, certain meats, beans and seeds should be avoided, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
  • To avoid high potassium levels, do not eat canned, salted or preserved meats like hot dogs, sausage, anchovies or sandwich spreads.

Fruits and Vegetables

Foods to Lower Potassium Levels

To minimize potassium in fruits and vegetables, all fruits and vegetables should be rinsed and drained well before eating, according to Greenwich Hospital. Cook vegetables in water to remove excess potassium and drain well. Vegetables to avoid include avocado, tomato, potatoes including sweet potatoes or yams, pumpkin, Swiss chard, cooked spinach and Brussels sprouts. Most fruits are safe on a low-potassium diet, but according the the Cleveland Clinic you should avoid bananas, strawberries and citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit.

  • To minimize potassium in fruits and vegetables, all fruits and vegetables should be rinsed and drained well before eating, according to Greenwich Hospital.
  • Most fruits are safe on a low-potassium diet, but according the the Cleveland Clinic you should avoid bananas, strawberries and citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit.

Snacks and Sweets

Certain snacks and sweets should be avoided entirely if you are on a low-potassium diet, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. They also report that you should avoid candy or beverages that contain chocolate, all types of nuts, and any food item containing molasses as these foods are quite high in potassium and may cause high potassium levels.

How to add more potassium to diet

High potassium in your blood can occur as a result of trauma, medications or kidney failure. If left uncontrolled, elevated potassium can lead to a heart attack. It is important that your doctor review your medications to see if any are causing your high potassium level. Loading up your diet with low-potassium foods and avoiding the high-potassium ones can keep your diet in check.

Read Labels

Reading labels can help you identify foods containing potassium. Look in the ingredients for any item with the word “potassium” and reduce intake of these foods. When cooking, use low-potassium herbs such as rosemary, thyme or oregano instead of salt substitutes. Many low-sodium foods, such as canned soups or packaged foods, replace sodium chloride with potassium chloride. Being aware of this ingredient can limit the amount of potassium you are eating.

Whole-Grain Foods and Nuts

While whole-grain foods and nuts have lots of nutrients and fiber, they are also high-potassium foods. In order to lower your potassium intake, skip whole-wheat bread and pasta, whole-grain rice and bran cereal. Instead, choose lower-fiber white versions of these foods for your diet. Nuts can also be a problem, especially because people often eat more than the recommended 1-ounce portion. Alternate snack choices in place of nuts are crackers, popcorn or tortilla chips.

Beverages

Many of the liquids you drink are naturally high in potassium and need to be monitored. Cow and soy milk are both high-potassium drinks. Replace these beverages with nonenriched rice milk. Tomato and orange juice are two additional beverages that have a high potassium content. Select grape, apple or cranberry juice as a replacement. Sports drinks with added electrolytes can also contribute dietary potassium if you are not careful. Read the labels on these drinks and avoid those with high amounts of potassium.

Fruits, Vegetables and Legumes

Packed with nutrients, certain fruits, vegetables and legumes have a high amount of potassium and should be limited in your diet. Bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, prunes, tomatoes, potatoes, cooked spinach, avocado, split peas, lentils and baked beans all contain more than 200 milligrams of potassium per serving. Limit these foods and portion sizes to decrease intake of dietary potassium. Since these foods are part of a balanced diet, you should replace them with lower potassium choices such as applesauce, grapes, canned peaches or pears, green beans, lettuce, cooked summer squash and bell peppers.

  • Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care; Sylvia Escott-Stump, MA, RD, LDN
  • National Kidney Disease Education Program: Potassium: Tips for People With Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Stacey Phillips is a registered dietitian and nutrition writer. She has had articles and patient information handouts published in the "Renal Nutrition Forum" and the "Journal of Renal Nutrition." She holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and a Masters degree at Central Michigan University.

How to add more potassium to diet

Fresh vegetables can be troublesome to purchase, prepare and store, and sun-dried tomatoes are convenient alternatives to help you meet your recommended daily vegetable servings. Although they may seem like gourmet items, sun-dried tomatoes are readily available and easy to use straight from the bag. Eating this nutrient-dense food can make your overall diet healthier.

Lower Blood Pressure

A half-cup of sun-dried tomatoes counts as a full cup of raw or cooked vegetables, according to the USDA. Sun-dried tomatoes can fit into a high-potassium, low-sodium diet to help prevent or lower high blood pressure. Each half-cup of sun-dried tomatoes contains 926 milligrams of potassium, or 26 percent of the daily value, and only 66 milligrams of sodium, or 3 percent of the daily value. High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and kidney disease.

Prevent Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Each half-cup of sun-dried tomatoes provides 2.5 milligrams of iron, or 14 percent of the daily value. Iron is a mineral in hemoglobin, which is the component of red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells in your body. Severe iron deficiency can lead to anemia and symptoms of fatigue, muscle weakness and frequent infections. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from plant-based foods, such as tomatoes. A half-cup of sun-dried tomatoes has 11 milligrams of vitamin C, or 17 percent of the daily value.

Reduce Heart Disease Risk

Eating sun-dried tomatoes can help reduce your total and LDL cholesterol levels and your risk of developing heart disease. A 2-ounce serving of sun-dried tomatoes provides 3 grams of dietary fiber, or 14 percent of the daily value. A high-fiber diet can help lower your unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels. Dietary cholesterol and saturated fat raise your LDL cholesterol, and sun-dried tomatoes are cholesterol-free and almost free from saturated fat.

Sun-dried tomatoes are common pizza toppings. You can add them to salads and use them to make bruschetta with variations using additional ingredients such as feta cheese or chicken. You can use sun-dried tomatoes to increase the acidity in pesto, hummus and other condiments, and toss them into pasta dishes to add a chewy texture. Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil are higher in calories and fat than sun-dried tomatoes without oil, making them less healthy if you are watching your weight.

  • USDA Nutrient Data Library: Nutrient Data for 11955, Tomatoes, Sun-Dried
  • Food and Drug Administration: 14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients
  • USDA: Supertracker Food-a-Pedia

Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.

How to add more potassium to diet

Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a role in the electrical and cellular functions of your body. The daily requirement of potassium for adults is 4,700 milligrams, and eating a well-balanced diet is a simple way to ensure that you reach this goal. Add fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy foods to your eating plan to increase your intake of potassium. If you have chronic low potassium, your doctor might recommend supplements, in addition to a healthy diet, to help you get what you need.

Why Do We Need Potassium?

Potassium is a mineral that supports the proper function of your cells and organs. It promotes the normal function of your muscles and helps keep your heart beating normally. Potassium aids proper digestion and sustains skeletal health as well. A potassium deficiency can cause weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, an irregular heart beat and an abnormal EKG, which is a test that measures how well your heart is functioning. Low potassium levels might also cause high blood pressure and increase your risk of having a stroke, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the top sources of potassium. Eating the recommended 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day can help you consume plenty of this essential mineral. A cup of cubed cantaloupe supplies 494 milligrams and a papaya contains 781 milligrams. One medium banana contains 467 milligrams. A medium-sized mango provides 323 milligrams, and a kiwi supplies 252 milligrams. Eat a tomato for 400 milligrams, or have a baked sweet potato for 508 milligrams. Avocado, potatoes and pumpkin are also top sources of potassium.

Additional Foods

A 1/2-cup serving of pinto beans supplies 400 milligrams of potassium, and the same amount of cooked lentils provides 365 milligrams. Drink a cup of soy milk for 345 milligrams, or a cup of 2 percent milk for 377 milligrams. Add lean meat to your daily diet to increase your potassium intake. A 3-ounce serving of salmon contains 319 milligrams, and the same amount of dark meat turkey supplies 259 milligrams. Yogurt and cottage cheese are nutritious ways to get more potassium as well.

Balancing Potassium and Sodium

As the two primary electrolytes, potassium and sodium share an important relationship. Decreasing sodium intake while increasing potassium can help manage hypertension while lowering your risk of cardiovascular conditions like heart disease, stroke and heart attack. The American Heart Association suggests you balance your daily recommended intake of 4,700 milligrams of daily potassium with no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day (you only need about 200 milligrams of sodium daily).

Three cups of milk day will help you get about one-fourth of the potassium you need on a daily basis.

Add fresh fruit and vegetables to every meal as a simple and tasty way to boost your potassium intake.

Slice a banana over your breakfast cereal, or add fresh kiwis to oatmeal.

Have a banana with your lunch, or a baked sweet or russet potato as a potassium-rich side dish to accompany a dinner of grilled steak or roasted chicken.

Add beans or lentils to soup, stew and chili recipes to increase the potassium content.

Have a carton of low-fat yogurt for a snack as another easy way to add more potassium to your diet.

Bananas aren’t the world’s only food source of potassium—and they may not even be the best. Here’s how to replenish this essential electrolyte with other super-nutritious foods.

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How to add more potassium to diet

When you hear “potassium,” you probably think about bananas. But the truth is, there are many better sources of this important electrolyte. Studies link adequate potassium levels with reduced risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and stroke. And it’s especially important during summer, when heat, exercise, and sweating can significantly deplete potassium levels, leading to weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, and mood changes.

The recommended daily intake for potassium is 4,700 mg, but most people get only a fraction of that amount. While bananas have decent amounts—400 mg, or about 9 percent of the daily value (DV) in a medium banana—they’re not the best source (and you can only eat so many bananas). Instead, try these seven summer-centric, high-potassium foods, each with more than 15 percent of your daily needs.

1. Watermelon

This hydrating summer fruit has 640 mg of potassium in two wedges, or 18 percent of the DV. Honeydew, cantaloupe, and other melons are also loaded with potassium. Watermelon is also an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene.

Recipe Tips: Purée watermelon with lime juice and mint for an alcohol-free mojito; toss watermelon balls with blueberries, cucumber, and minced basil; make a fresh, fruity salsa with diced watermelon, minced red onion, jalapeño pepper, pineapple, and lime juice.

2. Coconut water

This light, refreshing and hydrating beverage is loaded with potassium—600 mg, or 17 percent of the DV, per cup. And because it’s a balanced source of other electrolytes, including magnesium, calcium, and sodium, coconut water is an excellent low-calorie choice for summer hydration.

Recipe Tips: Purée coconut water with raspberries until smooth, stir in whole blackberries, and freeze in Popsicle molds; combine coconut water, lemon juice, and honey or agave for a refreshing lemonade; purée coconut water with shredded coconut and mango cubes, and freeze in an ice cream maker.

3. Mushrooms

A cup of cooked brown (cremini) mushrooms has 555 mg of potassium, or 15 percent of the DV. Plus, they’re the only plant source of naturally occurring vitamin D. Some varieties, like shiitakes, are also rich in compounds that support immune health.

Recipe Tips: Toss sliced mushrooms with olive oil and minced rosemary, arrange on a grill basket, and grill until tender; sauté shiitake mushrooms, green onions, bok choy, carrots, and ginger in sesame oil, then toss with tamari and cooked soba noodles; sauté wild mushrooms, fennel, and leeks, and serve on polenta.

4. Potatoes

One cup of boiled new potatoes contains almost 600 mg of potassium, or 16 percent of the DV. Other potatoes, including sweet potatoes, have similar amounts. Plus, sweet potatoes and purple potatoes are especially high in antioxidants.

Recipe Tips: Toss cooked and quartered new potatoes with minced red onion, diced celery, and basil with a lemon-yogurt dressing for a healthier take on potato salad; thinly slice sweet potatoes, brush with olive oil and grill until tender; sauté diced blue potatoes with black beans, corn, red peppers, and onion, and garnish with avocado cubes, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds.

5. Spinach

It’s packed with potassium: one cup of cooked spinach has 839 mg, about 24 percent of the DV. Spinach is also rich in beta-carotene and other nutrients, and it’s one of the best sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.

Recipe Tips: Make a tropical green smoothie with spinach, pineapple, and coconut milk; toss shredded spinach with cubed golden beets, black lentils, walnuts, and feta cheese; purée spinach, avocado, basil, and olive oil until creamy, then toss with cooked spaghetti squash.

6. Lima beans

Also called butter beans, these small, tender legumes are loaded with potassium—one cup cooked has 969 mg, about 18 percent of the DV. Plus, they’re loaded with protein and fiber. Other beans, peas, and lentils have similar amounts.

Recipe Tips: Make succotash with lima beans, corn kernels, diced zucchini, onions, and red peppers; cook lima beans, potatoes, onions, garlic, and thyme in broth, then purée for a creamy soup; sauté cooked lima beans with shredded kale, diced carrots, and leeks, and top with ricotta salata cheese.

7. Chard

Like most greens, chard is loaded with potassium. One cup cooked has 961 mg, about 27 percent of the DV. It’s also high in beta-carotene, and varieties with red and yellow stems are rich in lutein and other antioxidants.

Recipe Tips: Lightly steam whole chard leaves and wrap around a filling of quinoa, red lentils, garlic, and cumin; thinly slice red chard and sauté with leeks and wild mushrooms; toss shredded chard leaves with cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, black olives, and feta cheese, and dress with olive oil.

How to add more potassium to diet

Click here for Cantaloupe-Basil Sorbet recipe, which is packed with potassium.

Most diets are sadly lacking in this key mineral, but luckily that’s an easy problem to fix

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Products rich of potassium (K). Bananas, spinach, nuts, grains, dried fruits overs stone table. Space fot text

How to add more potassium to diet

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Potassium is an essential mineral that many Americans don’t get enough of, yet it’s vital for healthy blood pressure; proper function of the heart, kidneys, muscles, and nerves; and for normal metabolism of carbohydrates and protein.

Until recently, not all experts viewed lack of potassium as a problem. But when new food labels were introduced in January 2020, listing of potassium content became a requirement because government dietary surveys have found that Americans generally don’t get enough of this mineral.

Processed foods are a major contributor to the problem, as they are generally high in sodium and contain little or no potassium. The ratio in healthy foods is tipped in the opposite direction—fruits and vegetables contain much more potassium, with little or no sodium. In the long-gone days of hunter-gatherers, it’s estimated that the paleolithic diet contained 16 times as much potassium as sodium.

This ratio is important because potassium and sodium work together. When there’s enough potassium, excess sodium is more easily excreted, helping to maintain healthy blood pressure and to avoid the perils of hypertension, including heart disease and stroke.

How to add more potassium to diet

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How to Get Enough Potassium

Vegetables, fruit, beans, and fish are all rich dietary sources of potassium. Here’s an example of a meal that will deliver more than 2,200 mg of potassium, or almost half of the daily recommended amount:

  • 1 medium baked potato with skin: 941 mg
  • 3 oz. wild Atlantic salmon: 534 mg
  • ½ cup cooked spinach: 370–419 mg
  • ¼ medium cantaloupe for dessert: 368 mg

Some other rich sources include:

  • 1 cup of prune, carrot, or passion fruit juice: about 700 mg
  • ½ cup freshly cooked beet greens: 654 mg
  • ½ cup adzuki or white beans: about 600 mg
  • 1 cup of coconut water: about 600 mg
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato: 542 mg
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice or canned tomato juice: about 500 mg
  • 1 medium banana: 422 mg
  • ½ cup avocado: 364 mg

Can you Get Too Much Potassium?

While eating a diet high in potassium-rich foods is a good idea, potassium supplements can produce an overload for some people. Anyone with less-than-optimum kidney function, which may be a byproduct of diabetes or heart failure, shouldn’t take potassium supplements unless they’re prescribed by a doctor.

Some medications raise potassium levels and should not be combined with potassium supplements. Such drugs include ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril) or ramipril (Altace), and some over-the-counter pain remedies such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve).

Other types of prescription diuretics may deplete potassium. With these, a doctor may prescribe high-dose potassium supplements, but patients shouldn’t take extra potassium supplements on their own. Potassium levels can be checked with a simple blood test—normal levels range from 3.7 to 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

In susceptible people, dangerously high levels of potassium can cause weakness, fatigue, and irregular heart rhythms that, in extreme cases, can lead to heart attack and death.

Potassium Supplements

The dose of potassium in supplements, including multivitamins, is generally no more than 99 mg per serving to avoid accidental potassium overload in people with kidney and related diseases. For healthy people, there is no official upper limit for potassium, and supplements can provide some insurance against shortfalls.

Many salt substitutes replace sodium with potassium chloride, and these can provide higher doses of potassium. While they can be a good sodium alternative for healthy people, anyone with kidney disease, diabetes, or heart failure should exercise the same cautions against potassium overload from such seasonings as they would with supplements.

Bottom line, there are no downsides to eating foods that are high in potassium and many other beneficial nutrients.

It’s easy to up your intake with these tasty options.

How to add more potassium to diet

Eating a balanced diet can be tough. To make sure your body functions properly, you’ve got to check off all the boxes — from eating enough protein and fiber to drinking enough water. But potassium, a mineral that does everything from regulate the body’s fluid levels to help muscles contract, is often overlooked. And those who don’t get enough of it (it’s recommended that you get 4,700 mg a day) can experience everything from muscle weakness and mood swings to nausea and vomiting. Yeah, not fun. Start adding some of these high-potassium foods into your diet to keep your body from feeling like garbage.

How to add more potassium to diet

Acorn squash isn’t just for warm and cozy fall dinners. One squash alone contains a whopping 1,496 mg of the mineral — and it will only cost you 172 calories. (If you just want to stick to a cup, that’s still 486 mg right there.) It’s easy reaping the benefits, too: There are multiple ways you can use acorn squash, from roasting it up, adding to your salad, or even turning into a delicious purée.

How to add more potassium to diet

You either like ’em or you hate ’em, but there’s no debate that they’re healthy. The green veggie is full of vitamins and minerals, potassium included: One cup contains 342 mg. If you’re not so into the whole steamed sprouts thing, try baking them. For something sweet, sprinkle a tiny bit of brown sugar. And, for something more savory, add garlic seasoning.

How to add more potassium to diet

You might want to sit down for this. One cup of kidney beans racks up — wait for it — 2,587 mg of potassium. Yeah, in just one cup. There are so many ways to eat them, from a hearty chili to throwing them into your salad. And in case you weren’t already impressed, one cup also contains 46 g of protein, making it a true diet must-have.

How to add more potassium to diet

Lentils are quite possibly one of the most underrated veggies out there. The legume is incredibly high in protein, as well as other minerals like iron, folate, and — you guessed it — potassium. At 731 mg per cup, it would be crazy not to make them part of your regular routine. Great for weight loss and overall health, they’re the perfect addition to chili or soup, or as an easy side to any savory meal.

How to add more potassium to diet

Listen up, picky eaters: Skipping out on potato skin isn’t doing you any favors. A medium white potato, when eaten with the skin, contains 751 mg of potassium. It’s one of the best sources of the mineral, not to mention you can make it seriously delicious. Put together a baked potato bar with toppings like shredded cheese and Greek yogurt for sour cream, or even whip up some healthy fries.

How to add more potassium to diet

You should be devouring watermelon year-round, and here’s why: Eating a couple cups is a filling snack thanks to its high water content (hello, de-bloating), and it’s a pretty sweet way to get potassium with 340 mg in just two cups. Either eat it plain, or toss some into a refreshing salad with crumbled feta cheese.

How to add more potassium to diet

Not many people realize that, beyond being low in calories and full of calcium and protein, yogurt is also a great source of potassium. Both normal and Greek varieties are perfect picks, but don’t get the fancy stuff. Instead of buying it with fruit already added in, get plain yogurt and top it with your own. Your choice will be much lower in sugar — and way better for your body.

How to add more potassium to diet

Whether you like to eat your spinach cooked or raw, you’re sure to get a major dose of potassium either way. By eating a couple cups of the healthy greens a day, you’ll be taking in 334 mg. Plus, the high-fiber veggie will also help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Not so sure about spinach? Sneak a handful or two into your favorite smoothie. You won’t even know it’s there.

How to add more potassium to diet

Not only does zucchini make it possible to enjoy pasta, pizza, and more with minimal carbs and calories, but eating the green veggie is also the perfect way to up your potassium intake. One medium zucchini contains 512 mg of potassium and only 33 calories. So, basically, you have yet another reason to whip out the spiralizer tonight.

How to add more potassium to diet

Even though bananas are often thought to be the biggest source of potassium, think again. Sure, they’re great at 422 mg each, but when compared to foods like kidney beans and potatoes? Well, they don’t even stand a chance. There is something they really have going for them, though: The fact that you can just stick one in your bag for a snack certainly gives this fruit a leg up, because trying to eat beans on the go probably isn’t the best idea.

If you’re like most people in the U.S., you likely don’t get enough potassium in your diet.

Like calcium and sodium, potassium is a mineral that’s found in some foods. Having the right amount of potassium in your diet helps to keep you healthy, so it’s crucial to eat plenty of potassium-rich foods.

Food Sources of Potassium

Many of the foods that you already eat contain potassium. The foods listed below are high in potassium. If you need to boost the amount of potassium in your diet, make healthy food choices by picking items below to add to your menu.

Many fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium:

  • Bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit (some dried fruits, such as prunes, raisins, and dates, are also high in potassium)
  • Cooked spinach
  • Cooked broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Pumpkins
  • Leafy greens

Juice from potassium-rich fruit is also a good choice:

  • Orange juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Prune juice
  • Apricot juice
  • Grapefruit juice

Certain dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, are high in potassium (low-fat or fat-free is best).

Some fish contain potassium:

  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Trout
  • Rockfish

Beans or legumes that are high in potassium include:

  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils

Other foods that are rich in potassium include:

  • Salt substitutes (read labels to check potassium levels)
  • Molasses
  • Nuts
  • Meat and poultry
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Bran cereal
  • Whole-wheat bread and pasta

How Much You Need

You should get 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium every day. Most Americans don’t meet that goal.

Your needs might be different if you have kidney disease. Some people with kidney disease should get less potassium than the 4,700 mg guideline. If your kidneys don’t work well, too much potassium could stay in your body, which can cause nerve and muscle problems. If you have kidney disease and your doctor hasn’t already told you what your potassium limit is, ask about it.

On the Label?

For a long time, potassium wasn’t listed on the Nutrition Facts food labels of packaged food items. But in May 2016, the Nutrition Facts rules were changed, and potassium will now be listed. Companies will need to update their food labels on or before January 2020. That should make it easier for you to track your potassium intake for better health.

Continued

Why You Need Potassium

For starters, it helps your blood pressure. It does this in two different ways:

  • First, with the aid your kidneys, potassium helps remove extra sodium from your body through your urine. This is a good thing, because too much sodium can cause high blood pressure.
  • Second, potassium helps the walls of your blood vessels to relax or loosen up. When they’re too tense or rigid, it can lead to high blood pressure, which can cause heart problems. Getting enough potassium is good for your heart.

You also need enough potassium for good muscle health — so that your muscles can flex or contract the way they should. And your nerves need potassium so that they can work well.

Sources

FDA: “Changes to the Nutrition Facts label.”

American Heart Association: “A primer on potassium,” “How potassium can help control high blood pressure.”

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “What is potassium?”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Potassium: Tips for people with chronic kidney disease,” “Diet and lifestyle changes.”

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Living with the DASH eating plan.”

How to add more potassium to diet

Potassium is a mineral in your cells. It helps your nerves and muscles work as they should. The right balance of potassium also keeps your heart beating at a steady rate.

A potassium level that is too high or too low can be dangerous. If your levels are high or low, you may need to change the way you eat.

Very high-potassium foods

less than 100 mg

You can control the amount of potassium you get in your diet by being aware of which foods are low or high in potassium. When you choose foods from lists like the one below, note the serving size. Otherwise, it can be easy to get too much or too little potassium.

Food (no table salt added)

Beans (lima, baked navy)

Beets, raw or cooked

Dried beans and peas

Fish (haddock, perch, salmon)

Milk (fat-free, low-fat, whole, buttermilk)

Nuts (almonds, cashew, hazelnuts, peanuts)

Potato chips, plain, salted

Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin)

Sweet potato, baked

Hidden potassium

Some foods and drinks may have hidden potassium. Certain herbal or dietary supplements may also have it. Diet or protein drinks and diet bars often have this mineral. It is also in sports drinks. These are meant to replace potassium you lose during exercise.

Food labels do not have to include the amount of potassium, but some do. Even if potassium is not listed, it may still be in that food.

If you’re limiting your potassium, do not use a salt substitute or “lite” salt without talking to your doctor first. These often are very high in potassium.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, et al. (2015). USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 28. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl. Accessed October 12, 2015.
  2. American Dietetic Association (2015). Potassium content of foods. Nutrition Care Manual. https://www.nutritioncaremanual.org/client_ed.cfm?ncm_client_ed_id=153&actionxm=ViewAll. Accessed September 10, 2015.

Credits

Current as of: December 17, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Martin J. Gabica MD – Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD – Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD – Family Medicine
Rhonda O’Brien MS, RD, CDE – Certified Diabetes Educator