There are so many reasons you need to make sure you consume an adequate amount of potassium-rich foods daily. Potassium is an essential nutrient used to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. It’s also the third most abundant mineral in the body and a required mineral for the function of several organs, including the heart, kidneys, brain and muscular tissues. Potassium also plays an important role in keeping the body hydrated and works with sodium to support cellular function with your body’s sodium-potassium pump. (1)
Symptoms of low potassium are highly undesirable and can include severe headaches, dehydration, heart palpitations and swelling of glands and tissues. Potassium from natural food sources, like the list of potassium-rich foods below, is considered to very safe and very healthy. The current recommended dietary intake for male and female adults is 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. (2)
If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is, and many people have trouble getting as much potassium as they should on a daily basis. Using the potassium-rich foods chart I’m about to provide, you can learn what kinds of food you need to eat regularly to meet your requirements and avoid a deficiency. As both a mineral and an electrolyte, you really don’t want to miss the mark when it comes to your potassium intake.
Top 10 Potassium-Rich Foods List
What foods are rich in potassium? There are a lot of potassium-rich foods to choose from to meet your daily requirement. This list includes some of the highest potassium-rich foods around.
1) Avocado: 1 whole: 1,067 milligrams (30 percent DV)
Avocado is definitely one of my favorite potassium-rich foods. A 2013 study published in the Nutrition Journal revealed epidemiological data from 2001 to 2008 that describes the effects and benefits of avocado consumption on metabolic disease risk factors. Overall, researchers found that people who ate avocados tended to have healthier diets overall, as well as an increased nutrient intake and a decreased likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome. (3)
2) Acorn Squash: 1 cup: 896 milligrams (26 percent DV)
Acorn squash is a vegetable source of potassium that really should be more popular than it is because it also contains high levels of antioxidants. Most impressively are the carotenoids contained in just one serving of acorn squash. This type of antioxidant is well-known for helping prevent and fight various types of cancer, including skin, breast, lung and prostate cancer. (4)
3) Spinach: 1 cup cooked: 839 milligrams (24 percent DV)
There’s a reason why spinach was the cartoon character Popeye’s power food of choice. Not only is spinach a potassium-rich food, but scientific research has shown that spinach contains plant chloroplast glycoglycerolipids, which are believed to act as cancer-fighting agents. (5)
4) Sweet Potato: 1 large: 855 milligrams (24 percent DV)
Sweet potatoes are a potassium-rich food that contain a higher density of nutrients than white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are also high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Plus, sweet potatoes have been shown in scientific animal research to exhibit anti-ulcer activity and are likely helpful in the successful treatment of peptic ulcers. (6)
5) Wild-Caught Salmon: ½ filet: 772 milligrams (22 percent DV)
In addition to potassium as well as other vitamins, minerals and protein, wild-caught salmon is loaded with health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids. The benefits of these essential fatty acids include decreasing the risk of heart disease and stroke while also helping reduce symptoms of depression, high blood pressure, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, joint pain and chronic skin ailments like eczema. (7)
6) Dried Apricots: ½ cup: 756 milligrams (22 percent DV)
Dried apricots provide a quick and easy way to add potassium to your diet. Epidemiological studies have actually shown that people who consume dried apricot and other dried fruits tend to have healthier overall diets with more nutrients as well as a lower body weight. (8) In moderation, dried fruit can be a healthy, and in this case a potassium-rich snack choice.
7) Pomegranate: 1 whole: 667 milligrams (19 percent DV)
Pomegranate seeds and their juice are awesome fruit sources of potassium. They’re also loaded with fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K, among other nutrients. In addition this potassium-rich foods list, the pomegranate also lands on other lists like the top 10 aphrodisiac foods due to its ability to reduce cortisol levels in the body. Pomegranate juice has also been found to be the healthiest fruit juice in the world. (9)
8) Coconut Water: 1 cup: 600 milligrams (17 percent DV)
Looking for more potassium-rich foods that come in liquid form? I like including coconut water on this list because when you choose well (no added sugars), you have a beverage option that’s high in electrolytes like potassium but not too high in sugar or calories. Coconut water has even been used in emergency situations as an IV hydration fluid. (10)
9) White Beans: ½ cup: 502 mg (15 percent DV)
Not only do white beans contain a significant dose of potassium per serving, but they’re also high in fiber. According to the Mayo Clinic, consuming fiber-rich foods like white beans helps lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease. High-fiber diets also encourage a healthy waistline. (11)
10) Banana: 1 large: 487 milligrams (14 percent DV)
Bananas are well-known for being a potassium source and they’re a good one, but they’re also relatively high in sugar and carbs. That’s why I recommend bananas as a quick source of energy before a workout or a post-workout, nutrient-rich recovery food to help repair muscle and balance water retention. Exercising, especially an intense workout, is one of the major ways that your potassium levels can get drained so that’s why it’s crucial to consume potassium-rich foods like bananas. (12) Scientific research has also shown that bananas are rich in dopamine, a major mood-enhancing hormone. (13)
Benefits of Potassium-Rich Foods
1. Boost Heart Health
One thing a healthy heart definitely does is beat as it should. I’m talking about your heart rhythm, and potassium plays a direct role in making sure that rhythm is healthy and as it should be. If you’re having trouble with your heart rhythm, a potassium deficiency could easily play a role. (14)
2. Decrease Cramps
One of the main benefits of consuming high-potassium foods is decreased muscle cramping and improved muscle strength. Muscle weakness, muscle aches and muscle cramps are common side effects of low potassium levels. This can happen if an athlete becomes dehydrated and doesn’t consume enough potassium-rich foods before and after exercise. (15) Potassium is also helpful for cramps related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
3. Reduce Risk of Stroke
Several observational studies have found that those with high potassium levels experience a lower risk of stroke. The risk of ischemic stroke in particular is lower in high potassium consumers. The positive relationship between increased potassium intake and decreased stroke risk is believed to be from dietary sources rather than supplements, which do not appear to provide the same positive effect.
4. Alleviate High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
According to a recently updated Harvard Medical School publication, “the average American diet delivers too much sodium and too little potassium,” which is highly counterproductive when it comes to discouraging high blood pressure. Studies show that a diet high in potassium, especially potassium from fruits and vegetables, lowers blood pressure. This is especially true if the increase in potassium foods is not accompanied by an increase in high-sodium foods. One group that shouldn’t aim too high with potassium intake is people with kidney problems. (16)
5. Lower Cellulite Appearance
One of the main causative factors of cellulite buildup is fluid retention. Most people consume far too much sodium and not near enough potassium. Sodium brings nutrients into your cells where potassium helps flush excess waste out of your cells. For this reason, if you reduce sodium intake and start consuming potassium-rich foods, you may reduce the appearance of cellulite.
6. Osteoporosis Protection
Research has found a direct relationship between increased bone density and increased intake of dietary potassium. Citrate and bicarbonate are two potassium salts that are naturally found in potassium-rich fruit and vegetables, and a recent study reveals that these potassium salts can actually improve the health of your bones and ward off osteoporosis.
This 2015 study out of the University of Surrey published in the journal Osteoporosis International found that a high consumption of potassium salts significantly decreases the urinary excretion of both acid and calcium. Why is this significant? Because the potassium salts actually help the bones not to reabsorb acid and also to maintain its vital mineral content. So by consuming potassium-rich fruits and vegetables, you can actually help preserve your bones and prevent serious bone-related health issues like osteoporosis. (17)
7. Proper Food Processing and Growth
Your body actually requires potassium in order to process and utilize the carbohydrates you consume. As an a child or an adult, you also require potassium to build protein and muscle. If you’re younger in age and your body is still growing, then potassium helps ensure that your growth continues at a normal, healthy rate. (18)
Dangers of Low Potassium
Your body continuously performs a balancing act between two electrolytes: potassium and sodium. When sodium levels go up, potassium levels go down, and when sodium levels go down, potassium levels go up. It’s important not to overdo it on dietary sodium while it’s also crucial to keep your potassium intake up.
A deficiency in potassium can lead to: (19)
- Muscle cramps
- Weight gain
- Blood pressure problems
- Heart palpitations
- Cellulite buildup
- Abdominal cramping, bloating
- Abnormal psychological behavior, including depression, confusion or hallucinations
The main culprits that can cause low levels of potassium are endurance cardiovascular exercise without proper hydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables. Other causes of suboptimal potassium levels include poor kidney function, blood pH and hormone levels. Medications like diuretics and laxatives can also make potassium levels too low. (20)
Unless you’re on dialysis, receiving cancer treatment or have another special condition, overdose of potassium from natural sources is rare — however, it’s possible to consume too much potassium via potassium salts, which can lead to nausea and vomiting.
Recipes with Potassium-Rich Foods
With so many healthy yet tasty potassium sources to choose from, the recipe options are practically endless. Here are some recipe ideas that make at least one high-potassium food source the star of the show. Not only will you up your potassium intake, but you’re sure to find that these recipes make it really enjoyable to get your daily intake of this essential mineral.
Some of my favorite recipes containing potassium-rich foods include:
- Sweet Potato Hash Recipe
- Avocado Salad Wrap Recipe
- Grecian Spinach Recipe
- Roasted Acorn Squash Recipe
- Strawberry Banana Smoothie Recipe
Final Thoughts on Potassium-Rich Foods
There’s no doubt that potassium is an absolutely essential part of a healthy diet. Not only is it an essential mineral, but it’s also an electrolyte. With this double identity comes a plethora of potassium benefits when you consume enough on a regular basis. The opposite is also true — if you don’t get enough potassium in your diet regularly, then you open yourself up to a lot of unwanted potassium deficiency symptoms.
Hopefully, this potassium-rich food list will help you to see that bananas aren’t your only option when it comes to getting your daily dose of potassium. There are actually many fruits and vegetables, and even fish, that rank even higher than bananas when it comes to their content of this vital mineral. There are so many delicious potassium-rich foods that can be eaten alone or in healthy recipes, which makes it easy not to fall short in the potassium department.