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. If your level 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.
Diets high in potassium-rich foods and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Despite its importance, many people don’t get as much of it from their diet as they should. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have singled it out as a “nutrient of public health concern.”
How much should you consume each day? The recommended target is 2,600 milligrams per day for women and 3,400 milligrams per day for men. What foods and how much of them do you need to eat to meet these goals? When we think about adding it to our diet most people think bananas, they are an easy source- but not the highest source. One single medium banana provide about 450 milligrams – about 20% of your daily requirement.
Here are a few examples of other foods high in potassium:
|Swiss chard, cooked||1 Cup||961 mg|
|Potato, baked, with skin||1 Medium||926 mg|
|Cooked Yam||1 Cup||911 mg|
|Spinach, cooked||1 Cup||839 mg|
|Tomato juice, 100%||1 Cup||527 mg|
|Prune juice, 100%||1 Cup||707 mg|
|Pomegranate juice, 100%||1 Cup||533 mg|
|Orange juice, 100%||1 Cup||496 mg|
|Banana||1 Cup||451 mg|
|Raisins||1/4 Cup||307 mg|
|Yogurt, plain, nonfat||8 Ounces||625 mg|
|Milk, low fat (1 %)||1 Cup||366 mg|
|Sardines, canned||3 Ounces||338 mg|
|Beef||3 Ounces||288 mg|
|Pistachio nuts||1 Ounce||286 mg|
These are just some select food items. To view a complete chart visit the list of potassium rich foods on the Dietary Guidelines supplied by the US Government. You can easily see that getting enough this important mineral in your diet can be done by eating four or five foods or by following the DASH diet.
Just like sodium, potassium must stay balanced in your body when managing kidney disease. If your kidneys are not working well, potassium levels in your blood might get too high. High levels of potassium can affect your heart rhythm, so the eating plan you follow for managing kidney disease might include a potassium limit. Your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist will let you know if you need to monitor the amount of potassium in the foods and beverages you consume, and your RDN can explain how to stay within your limit.
Potassium works closely with another popular electrolyte in your diet — sodium. If your sodium intake is high, potassium doesn’t have a fighting chance to work its magic. Because there is often sodium added to the foods on the list above — either through the canning process, sauces, broth, condiments or added table salt — you often don’t get the full benefits of potassium. It’s best to limit your salt intake to between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams per day.
Too much potassium can be harmful in people with kidney disorders. As kidneys become less able to remove it from your blood, too much of it may build up. Often, like high blood pressure, there aren’t many symptoms of high potassium. Feeling sick to your stomach, a low, weak or irregular pulse and fainting may occur when you have high levels.
Consult with a healthcare professional before taking any over-the-counter potassium supplement. You should also ask your doctor before trying salt substitutes, which can raise potassium in people with certain health conditions and those taking medications for high blood pressure.