Potassium is an essential mineral that our bodies require for hydration and proper cellular function.
It's the third most abundant mineral in the body and works in a balance with sodium to regulate blood pressure and fluid transfer in/out of cells.
Potassium is also critical for the proper function of many vital organs in your body including the heart, brain, kidneys, and more.
Unfortunately, researches estimate that only 3% of Americans meet their daily recommended intake of potassium. This is likely due to poor dietary choices and not consuming enough potassium rich foods. (1)
Intaking adequate amounts of potassium-rich foods is essential for optimal health.
Top 5 Food Sources of Potassium
While there are many foods that contain potassium, these 5 health foods are the best options.
1. Avocado - 1 Cup (230 grams) - 1166 mg Potassium (33% Daily Value)
They are one of the very best food sources of potassium!
Avocados are one of my all-time favorite health foods!
2. Wild-Caught Salmon - 1/2 Fillet (154 Grams) - 967 mg Potassium (28% Daily Value)
Wild salmon is an amazing source of healthy omega 3 fats, high-quality protein, and an assortment of micronutrients!
It's not typically viewed as high potassium food, but it actually contains a ton of potassium. (6)
Just be sure to avoid farmed-raised salmon which is far inferior to wild-caught.
I believe wild salmon to be one of the best animal foods you can eat!
3. Swiss Chard - 1 Cup (175 grams) - 961 mg Potassium (27% Daily Value)
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable with colorful steams and is an awesome food source of potassium!
One cup contains a whopping 961 mg of potassium as well as many other vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. (7)
This vegetable also contains many antioxidants which can help reduce cellular damage and improve your health. (8)
Spinach and other leafy greens are also an excellent food source of potassium and beneficial nutrients.
You really can't go wrong with leafy green vegetables. Choose your favorites and eat them on a regular basis to increase your potassium intake.
4. Acorn Squash - 1 Cup (250 grams) - 896 mg Potassium (26% Daily Value)
Acorn squash is not well known for it's potassium content, but it should be!
It packs quite a bit of potassium as well as various other nutrients like carotenoids. (9)
Carotenoids are a type of antioxidant and have been shown to help with eye-related diseases and reduce your risk for multiple types of cancer. (10)
Since it is a starchy vegetable, you should always consume acorn squash alongside other healthy fats to slow the conversion of carbohydrates in your body.
5. Sweet Potatoes - 1 Large (180 grams) - 855 mg Potassium (24% Daily Value)
Regular potatoes and sweet potatoes are packed with potassium and other minerals (11)
Sweet potatoes contain a higher density of valuable nutrients compared to regular potatoes making them a better option.
They do containing a high amount of starch, making them a high-glycemic carbohydrate.
Your consumption of potatoes should be limited when trying to lose weight or improve your insulin sensitivity.
In addition to the top 5 foods listed above, here are some other food sources of potassium that are still great:
- Dried Apricots - ½ cup: 756 milligrams (22 percent DV)
- Pomegranate - 1 whole: 667 milligrams (19 percent DV)
- Coconut Water - 1 cup: 600 milligrams (17 percent DV)
- White Beans - ½ cup: 502 mg (15 percent DV)
- Yogurt and Claims are also good potassium foods
What About Bananas?
So many people have been mislead to believe that bananas are the best food source of potassium.
While they do contain some potassium, this is far from the truth. All 5 foods listed above are superior sources and provide more benefit to your overall health than bananas.
I can't tell you how many people I've worked with that, during our initial consultation, express that their "healthy breakfast" consists of one or two bananas and a cup of coffee.
Consuming solely a banana for breakfast will spike your blood sugar, while not supplying your body with the health fatty acids and essential amino acids it really needs.
The high sugar content in the banana can also cause low energy and sugar cravings throughout the day.
Additionally, the vast majority of store bought bananas have been hybridized to be bigger and sweeter (aka more sugar) than the heirloom varieties we used to consume in the past.
They are typically picked pre maturely off the vine before the fruit has a chance to receive all the valuable nutrients from the plant. Then they are shipped far distances to then be flash "ripened" with ethylene gas.
I am not saying bananas are the devil and should never be consume, but just explaining they aren't the healthy food many people are taught to eat daily. They do have a decent amount of potassium.
Harmful Effects of Low Potassium
Since potassium and sodium act in conjunction with each other in your body, getting too much of one or the other can lead to issues.
This is common in the Standard American Diet since folks are eating processed foods that contain a lot of salt, and not enough of the potassium rich foods listed above.
Lack of adequate potassium intake can lead to:
- Weight gain
- Fatigue and low energy levels
- Heart problems
- Blood pressure issues
- Muscle and abdominal cramping
- Poor mood
- And much more
How Much Potassium Do You Need?
According to the Food and Nutrition Center of the Institute of Medicine, Here are the recommended daily intakes: (12)
- 0 to 6 months: 400 mg/day
- 7 to 12 months: 700 mg/day
CHILDREN and ADOLESCENTS
- 1 to 3 years: 3,000 mg/day
- 4 to 8 years: 3,000 mg/day
- 9 to 13 years: 4500 mg/day
- 14 to 18 years: 4700 mg/day
- Age 19 years and older: 4700 mg/day
Women who are producing breast milk need slightly higher amounts 5,100 mg/day)
My hope is you realize how important potassium is for your health.
Now you know what food sources are best to get your potassium intake and what symptoms may be caused by inadequate amounts of potassium.
As an essential mineral and an electrolyte, getting enough potassium is critical for your health and wellbeing!