Supports Brain Health
Potassium is vital for the health of your nervous system, which is made up of your brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Potassium also plays a role in the osmotic balance between cells and the interstitial fluid, which is the fluid outside of your cells. Simply put, when you’re low in potassium, fluids don’t move around your body like they are meant to. An upset nervous system- paired with an increase in blood pressure and cerebral fluid meant to soothe your brain- due to low potassium, is going to result in severe headaches. Eat potassium-rich foods like those listed in the “Top 25 Potassium-Rich Foods” list below, and check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist to see if any of your existing medications impact your potassium levels in any way.
Reduces Risk of Stroke
Because of potassium’s role in the regulation of the nervous system, heart function, and even water balance, a high-potassium diet helps reduce the risk of stroke
. Better yet, this benefit has been shown to be stronger when the potassium comes from natural food sources rather than supplementation. That means reducing your risk of stroke is a delicious endeavor.
Improves Heart Health
You need potassium to properly move all your muscles. The contraction and relaxation cycle is dependent upon potassium and this includes the heart. Thus, to maintain a healthy heart
rate, eating potassium-rich foods on a daily basis is a must. If you’ve been experiencing issues with a heart arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, speak with your healthcare provider to see if a potassium deficiency could be playing a role.
Alleviates High Blood Pressure
Within the human body, there is a mechanism known as the sodium-potassium pump. This pump is necessary for anything to move in and out of cells, sending messages along nerves, balancing fluids like blood, and even pumping the heart. While the human body needs 4,700 mg of potassium, it only needs 1,500 mg of sodium, and unfortunately, the modern American diet is all but the opposite, if not completely void of potassium. Because of this imbalance, blood pressure skyrockets.
Focusing on eating foods high in potassium and reducing foods high in sodium can help restore balance and reduce blood pressure. This is important for everyone’s heart health and of special importance to those at an elevated risk for high blood pressure, like African Americans. Processed foods, restaurant food, and fast foods are the worst culprits of high sodium. Make sure to read all labels, check online for nutrition information before ordering, and steer clear of foods you know to be high in sodium. Focus on the wide variety of delicious, potassium-rich foods instead of what you’re giving up. (A list of these foods is provided below!)
Supports Bone Health
Potassium is not only good for your overall health but your bone health too. Research has shown that potassium, which is plentiful in fruits and veggies, plays an important role in improving your bone health. Researchers found that potassium reduces bone resorption, which is the process by which bone is broken down. This results in increased bone strength. For further information on how potassium can benefit your bones, visit our comprehensive article
that focuses on the link between bone health and potassium. And if you’re ready to put potassium- and the 12 other essential minerals to work for your bones- try AlgaeCal Plus risk-free today.
Reduces Muscle Cramps
As we’ve discussed, potassium is needed for both muscle movement and balancing the right amount of fluids in and out of all cells. That means a deficiency in potassium can and will result in muscle cramps. Regularly eating potassium-rich foods has even been found to help with menstrual cramps. If you’ve ever been to a doctor for muscle cramps, they may have put you on a very short duration of potassium supplementation, which you should only do under the care of your healthcare provider.
Not only does eating delicious fruits, vegetables and legumes rich in potassium help prevent muscle cramps, it reduces muscle weakness and fatigue. That gives you more energy to move throughout the day and to make the most of your active time. For athletes who have a more rigorous athletic schedule, finding creative ways to get maximum potassium in per bite will help overall performance. That means always having potassium-rich foods present at every meal and snack, as well as focusing on potassium-rich smoothies and recovery shakes. Coconut water may be perfect for a pre-workout boost or even post-workout recovery. As you’ll learn below in the potassium-rich foods list, there is a wide variety of foods loaded with potassium to meet each and every type of food craving.
It’s important to love your body at any size and shape. That said, if eating healthy fruits, vegetables and legumes rich in potassium and other nutrients helps you reach a healthy weight while reducing cellulite, it’s an all-around win. As much as we associate cellulite with excess fat consumption and low physical activity, one of the primary factors, aside from genetics, is built-up fluid retention. This goes back to eating too much salt and not enough potassium. Flip the script to eat more potassium-rich foods you enjoy on a regular basis, and you’ll see a reduction in cellulite and improvement in overall health.
Supports Healthy Weight
You may have noticed a common theme amongst all the previously mentioned health benefits of potassium– healthy weight. That’s because potassium helps ease weak and fatigued muscles, boosts heart health, helps your nervous system work properly and even keeps the water in your body balanced. That, paired with the fact you won’t have much room in your stomach after eating foods rich in potassium – which tend to be low in calories and high in nutrition- keep away unhealthy foods that pack a lot of calories but no nutrition. This healthy swap gives you the nutrients you need to meet your physical activity goals, pump your heart properly, get rid of retained water, and reduce high-sodium, high-fat, nutritionally-void foods that pack on the pounds.
Potatoes, with Skin (1 potato = 1,081 mg, 23% DV)
Did you know there are over 100 different edible varieties of potatoes? Each variety has many health benefits, so don’t let the no-carb rhetoric deter you from potatoes. Potatoes, namely their peel, are rich in vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and vitamin C. The key is to keep the peel and choose a preparation method other than frying.
Give your heart, bones, and taste buds a nutritious, delicious treat by making baked potato skin nachos loaded with black beans, spinach, bell peppers, salsa and sprinkled with cheese. Broil in the oven and then add a dollop of cold yogurt in place of sour cream. Enjoy!
Avocados (1 avocado = 975 mg, 21% DV)
Don’t let the fact that avocados are a high-fat food scare you off from eating one of the healthiest, versatile and delicious foods on earth. Researchers have agreed that the high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados actually have heart-protecting benefits. An astonishing 15 out of 22 grams of fat in an avocado comes from monounsaturated fat – that’s 68% of the daily recommendation.
Now that you know the fats in avocados are good for you, you can see all the other benefits they have to offer, such as, but not limited to, the fact that one avocado has over 20% DV of potassium. What’s more, they’re loaded with fiber, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and even a dollop of iron. With all those healthy fats and fiber to help keep you full, and the nutrients to help meet your nutritional needs, avocados now look more like a fruit that can help with weight loss than a fattening food.
Use avocados in place of mayo or other unhealthy spreads on sandwiches, wraps and for dipping. Satisfy your sweet tooth by combining an avocado with 2 teaspoons cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon honey and ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Blend into a creamy mousse and enjoy a nutritious, delicious guilt-free dessert.
Lima Beans (1 cup = 955 mg, 20% DV)
Lima beans, also known as “butter beans” because of their starchy, yet buttery flavor, can be found canned year-round at your local grocery store. In the Southern U.S., butter beans are plentiful from the beginning of summer harvest clear to the end of fall harvest. This potassium-rich food is also high in protein, magnesium, iron, vitamin B6 and even a bit of calcium. If you’re still traumatized from the lima beans served up at school lunch, fret not. Well-prepared Lima beans have a completely different taste and texture. You can also blend a handful into your morning smoothie to lend both nutrition and a creamy texture.
Winter Squash (1 cup = 896 mg, 19% DV)
Winter squash, like the name suggests, is mostly available in the winter. It’s also affordable, delicious and versatile. There are plenty of varieties like butternut, acorn, pumpkin, spaghetti squash and more. Winter squash is known for having a very long shelf life and thus helps a food budget stretch. In addition to the flesh portion of squash, the seeds provide loads of nutrition as well, including potassium! Like pumpkin seeds, you can do the same with winter squash seeds and have a healthy and delicious snack option. Use nutrient-rich spices like chili powder, cinnamon or even a no-salt curry blend to flavor up roasted squash seeds instead of salt.
Sweet Potato, Cooked with Skin (5” sweet potato = 855 mg, 18% DV)
Sweet potatoes are a naturally sweet treat that feels like an indulgence. Brimming with nutrition and endless culinary opportunities, sweet potatoes offer up nutrition both in their peel and in their flesh. Get maximum nutrition by keeping the peel. In addition to one sweet potato offering nearly 20% of a day’s worth of potassium, the deep orange colored flesh contains a bevy of carotenoids, the precursor to vitamin A. Sweet potatoes also offer up 5 B-vitamins – thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, and riboflavin. Grilled, sauteed or even baked, sweet potatoes can add a lot to any meal of the day.
Prunes, AKA Dried Plums (1/2 cup = 637 mg, 14% DV)
Don’t let the reputation of prunes keep you from enjoying these sweet, nutrient-rich, dried plums. While most commonly touted for their fiber-rich capability to ease constipation, prunes have a lot more to offer nutritionally. Half a cup of prunes provides 637 mg of potassium, and even better, prunes have proven to be a wonderful food choice for bone health, as they have the ability to prevent bone resorption.
Chewy and sweet, dried plums are a healthy alternative to sugary snacks that happen to provide a lot of nutrition and may even stave off osteoporosis. Talk about a sweet treat with benefits! Just like dried apricots below, dried plums have a higher concentration of nutrients (and antioxidants) after the drying process.
Note: if you still don’t care for prunes- and you’re concerned with your bone density- opt for a natural, plant-based source of potassium that won’t offend your tastebuds. It’s the only food source on earth guaranteed to increase bone density too.
Coconut Water (1 cup = 600 mg, 13% DV)
Have you been curious about the hype surrounding coconut water? It’s showing up more and more on grocery store shelves. Many health and fitness websites mention coconut water and even tout it as the ultimate natural post-workout beverage. Well, there’s something to all that. 1 cup of coconut water provides 600 mg of potassium. It also contains a decent amount of magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and even iron. Try having a glass of coconut water after a workout, part of your healthy morning routine or during the afternoon to prevent an energy slump.
Brussels Sprouts, Cooked (1 cup = 504 mg, 11% DV)
Commonly known as a side staple during the holidays, brussels sprouts can be a delicious side all year round. These savory cruciferous vegetables are loaded with both flavor and nutrition. 1 cup of cooked brussels sprouts boasts only 56 calories and 504 mg of potassium in addition to bone-nourishing vitamin K, vitamin B6, omega 3 fatty acids, and magnesium. Brussel sprouts can be enjoyed raw, but their flavor profile really shines when cooked. Try them steamed, sauteed, roasted and grilled to see which is your favorite. The answer may be all of the above!
Try this recipe for Balsamic Brussel Sprouts.
Milk (1 cup = 496 mg, 11% DV)
Most commonly known as a calcium-rich food, milk is also a potassium-rich food. When choosing milk, buy organic whenever possible. If you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative, read the label to make sure you’re getting the same nutrients offered in milk, but without toxic food additives. Regardless of whether you choose dairy milk or a dairy substitute, to ensure you get enough calcium, magnesium and trace amount of potassium, make AlgaeCal Plus a part of your daily routine.
Cantaloupe (1 cup = 494 mg, 11% DV)
Cantaloupe is high in vitamin C, vitamin A precursors called carotenoids, and potassium. This sweet, flavorful melon makes a great natural flavor enhancer for water. Cut 4-5 cubes of cantaloupe and place them in your water bottle to sip on during the day. Keep refrigerated unless drinking it and consume within 24 hours to prevent bacterial growth. Sweeten up any green smoothie or vegetable juice naturally by adding cantaloupe. To get the most potassium from cantaloupe, it’s best to eat the fruit in its natural form. This particular melon is a realistic swap for a calorie-laden dessert.
Beets (1 cup = 442 mg, 9% DV)
Beets offer up a lot of nutrition and flavor with very few calories. 1 cup of beets is only 59 calories and yet that same serving offers up loads of potassium, fiber, protein, magnesium, iron and vitamin B6. If consumed raw, beets offer up a healthy dose of vitamin C as well. Beets are deep in color and can be a golden yellow, red or even striped. Golden and striped beets tend to be less sweet than red beets and less earthy in flavor all around. In addition to the beetroot itself, you can also eat the stems and leaves. Try beets raw, roasted, sauteed and even grilled to see how versatile this delicious root vegetable can be.
Fresh Tomatoes (1 cup = 427 mg, 9%) and Tomato Products such as Canned Sauce (1 cup = 909 mg, 19% DV)
Regardless of whether you call it a fruit or vegetable, the mighty tomato is one of the all-around most nutritious foods. 1 cup of fresh chopped tomatoes boasts 427 mg of potassium which is nearly 10% of the recommended 4,700 mg daily. And all that- plus more nutrition- at only 32 calories! Tomatoes are high in vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium (if you eat the seeds) and potassium. If you are buying canned tomato products, purchase cans or glass jars that are BPA-free, as the acid content of tomatoes causes BPA plastic to leach out at an even greater rate.
Bananas (1 medium banana = 422 mg, 9% DV)
When it comes to potassium recognition, bananas seem to have covered the market. While actually not the most potassium-rich food available, bananas do pack a healthy dose. 1 medium banana alone has 422 mg of potassium, which is nearly 10% of the daily recommendation of 4,700 mg. Low in price and easy to find all year round, bananas make for a great snack and excellent pre/post workout boost. In addition to being a potassium-rich food, bananas also are high in manganese, vitamin C, and fiber.
Apricots, Dried (10 halves = 407 mg, 9% DV)
During the drying process, heat-sensitive vitamins like vitamin C are affected and are ultimately broken down. This isn’t all bad because other nutrients become more concentrated during this process. Potassium is one of them. While fresh apricots are a perfectly healthy food choice, dried apricots offer the benefit of more potassium per bite, plus prolonged shelf life. That makes dried apricots a viable option for your purse, snack drawer at work or even your workout bag. Be bold and try dried apricots in savory dishes, something that is commonly seen in Persian recipes.
Honeydew Melons (1 cup = 388 mg, 8% DV)
Honeydew melons are as sweet as the name implies. This beautiful green melon offers up a lot of nutrition and flavor at only 61 calories a cup. In addition to a solid amount of potassium, honeydew melon has over half of the daily recommended vitamin C per cup! On top of that, it packs vitamin B6 and fiber. Honeydew is a perfect, refreshing snack or dessert on a hot summer day that can satiate a sweet tooth, help keep you hydrated, and keep your calories in check without making you feel deprived.
Raisins (1.5 ounce box of raisins = 322 mg, 7% DV)
Raisins are dried grapes. You may recognize the red Sun Maid raisin box from your school lunch days, but don’t let childhood lunchtime letdowns keep you from enjoying this sweet, nutrient-rich snack. In fact, raisins have come a long way in recent years and are now available in a wide variety of colors (just like grapes) and significantly better texture. In addition to being a potassium-rich food, raisins are high in fiber, magnesium, and iron. Because they are dried, they have a long shelf life making them perfect for your briefcase, purse or snack drawer at work. It’s up to you whether or not you carry on the tradition of putting them in your children’s lunchboxes.
Yogurt, Plain (½ cup = 290 mg, 6% DV)
Yogurt is a good source of calcium and can be high in probiotics – just check the label. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that provide important health benefits. Probiotics boost the benefits of yogurt well beyond the health benefits of milk because of the fermentation process. Use plain yogurt in place of sour cream and as a base for both sweet and savory dips for fruits and vegetables.
Nectarines (1 nectarine = 287 mg, 6% DV)
The nectarine is closely related to the peach and boasts high amounts of potassium – 287 mg of potassium in just one nectarine. This stone fruit is also rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, and fiber. Throw a few in your work bag for an afternoon snack, add a couple to your breakfast, and change things up by blending them up with some olive oil, herbs, and vinaigrette to use as a dressing or marinade.
Dates, Dried (5 dates = 271 mg, 6% DV)
There are over 30 different types of dates in the world, but the most commonly grown and consumed dates in the U.S. are Medjool dates. Loaded with natural sugar and having a caramel-like consistency and flavor, dates make an excellent replacement for both candies and sugar in recipes. Dates have been a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine for millennia, making it easy to find a variety of interesting, delicious date recipes. Dates offer up a healthy dose of potassium, as well as magnesium, vitamin B6, calcium, iron and even a bit of protein. Talk about a guilt-free sweet treat!
Figs, Dried (2 figs = 271 mg, 6% DV)
While fresh dates are only available during summer harvest season, dried figs can be found at most grocery stores all year long. Dried figs are chewy, sweet and their seeds are crunchy. Those crunchy, edible seeds are where figs get their magnesium content. A serving of figs hovers around 100 calories making them a perfect, sweet snack to satiate your sweet tooth while keeping you on track to meet your target weight. They also offer fiber, copper, calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and iron. Figs are a common ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes and make for a great snack all on their own.
Pumpkin Seeds (1 oz = 261 mg, 5% DV)
Pumpkin and squash seeds
are an excellent source of potassium. One ounce, which is about 85 seeds equals 261 mg of potassium and 74 mg of magnesium. Tossed in salads or granola – these seeds are nutrient powerhouses.
Peanuts, Dry Roasted & Unsalted (¼ cup = 257 mg, 5% DV)
Peanuts are a nutrition powerhouse. In addition to being a good source of potassium, peanuts are high in biotin, copper, manganese and vitamin B3. They’re also a great source of vegetarian protein. Peanuts are rich in monounsaturated fats and are also a part of the healthy Mediterranean Diet. Read the food label to make sure no toxic food additives or other ingredients have been added.
Oranges (1 orange = 237 mg, 5% DV; 1 cup orange juice = 496 mg, 11% DV)
Oranges are known for high vitamin C content but have so much more to offer nutritionally. These sweet citrus fruits are loaded with potassium, calcium, and fiber as well. Enjoy fresh oranges as a natural sweet treat or try something new by adding them to a cooked, savory dish. If you opt for orange juice, keep the amount in moderation and choose freshly squeezed orange juice. It provides a healthy dose of vitamin C for antioxidant protection and immunity.
Kiwifruit (1 medium kiwi = 215 mg, 5% DV)
Kiwifruit may not win a beauty contest anytime soon, but these delicious fruits prove it’s what is on the inside that matters. Just one kiwifruit has over 100% of the vitamin C a person needs in a day, in addition to potassium, magnesium, calcium and a pinch of iron. When choosing your kiwi, gently apply pressure on the skin. Those that can handle gentle pressure without imploding are the winners with the sweetest taste. Avoid kiwis that are too soft and cave into your pressure. Add sliced kiwi to summer salads for a pop of zesty-sweet flavor, take a couple to the office for afternoon pick-me-ups and bravely add one with its nutrient-rich skin intact to your morning smoothie.
Pears (1 pear = 206 mg, 4% DV)
Pears are a wonderful source of potassium and make for a great afternoon pick-me-up instead of a candy bar. Even the skin offers extra nutrition in the form of phenolic phytonutrients and fiber. Pears make for a great grab-and-go snack. For a new take on an age-old favorite, try grilling pear halves and sprinkling them with paprika and cayenne pepper.
Spinach (1 cup raw = 167 mg, 3% DV, 1 cup cooked = 840 mg, 18% DV)
Popeye was onto something with his love of spinach – it really does contain nutrients that help you build strength. 1 cup of raw spinach has 167 mg of bone- and muscle-nourishing potassium and 1 cup cooked spinach contains 840 mg potassium! Cooking spinach doesn’t increase its potassium content, but it drastically shrinks spinach, meaning you get more nutrient-rich spinach per bite. If you’ve ever added a bag of spinach to a sauté or soup, you’ve seen how quickly and dramatically it can shrink up. Enjoy spinach raw and cooked to get maximum benefits and flavor options.
Spinach is also high in vitamin K1, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids) and folate. You can steam spinach, add it to pasta or soups or simply sauté with some grass-fed butter (which is high in bone-nourishing vitamin K2) and garlic. Be brave and throw a couple handfuls of raw spinach into your morning smoothie. Spinach actually brings out the flavor of berries while giving you a strong boost of nutrition. The options are endless!
*USDA Nutrient Database for Standard References, Release 15 for Potassium, K (mg)
Potassium triggers three of the five types of taste sensations, depending on concentration.
Did you know that small amounts of potassium are sweet? This makes moderate concentrations of potassium in milk and juices palatable. Larger concentrations, on the other hand, are more bitter and salty to the taste. As a result, liquid drinks with high-dose potassium supplementation are a challenge for consumers.