Potassium flies under the radar. Most people don’t think much about this unappreciated mineral (if they think about it at all).
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But it’s an important nutrient, and we’re not getting nearly enough. Read on to find out why you need potassium in your life — and where to find it. Registered dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RDN, LD, shares a few top sources of potassium so you can work more of it into your diet.
Potassium is a mineral that plays a significant role in the function of your heart, kidneys, muscles and nerves. Low potassium can raise your blood pressure, increase the risk of kidney stones and even pull calcium out of your bones.
“Diets high in potassium-rich foods and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke,” says Taylor.
Despite its importance, many people don’t get as much potassium 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 potassium should you get? Taylor says the recommended target is 2,600 milligrams per day for women and 3,400 milligrams per day for men. Fun fact: Older guidelines recommended 4,700 milligrams per day, but the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine updated the number in 2019. So it’s now even easier to get your daily dose of potassium.
Ready to boost your intake? Taylor suggests adding these potassium powerhouses to your diet.
Spuds are a smart choice — just leave the nutrient-rich skins intact. A medium baked potato with the skin on contains more than 900 milligrams of potassium. A sweet potato with skin? More than 500 milligrams.
Beans are a good source of potassium. White beans and adzuki beans have around 600 milligrams per half-cup serving. Pinto beans, navy beans, lima beans and Great Northern beans all have more than 350 milligrams per half-cup. Soybeans (aka edamame, aka delicious) and lentils are also good sources of potassium.
People often reach for whole fruit over juices since whole fruits are a good source of fiber. But don’t rule out juice completely. Prune juice and carrot juice both pack a serious potassium punch: About 689 milligrams for a cup of carrot juice and more than 700 milligrams for the same amount of prune juice.
Orange juice and pomegranate juice are also good picks, each containing around 500 milligrams per cup. Taylor recommends watching your portions though because of the sugar content.
Popular fish like salmon, mackerel, halibut, tuna and snapper all have more than 400 milligrams of potassium in a 3-ounce filet. Chowder more your thing? Just 3 ounces of canned clams will get you upwards of 500 milligrams.
Popeye had the right idea. A half-cup serving of cooked spinach contains up to 400 milligrams of potassium. The same amount of Swiss chard has more than 450 milligrams and beet greens more than 600 milligrams.
You know dairy is a super source of calcium. Turns out, it’s a great source of potassium, too. One cup of low-fat or skim milk contains about 350 to 380 milligrams of potassium. And plain yogurt will net you more than 500 milligrams per cup (not to mention protein and healthy probiotics).
A cup of chopped tomatoes delivers more than 400 milligrams of potassium, while a cup of tomato juice or tomato puree more than 500 milligrams. Concentrated tomato paste is even richer in the mineral, with more than 650 milligrams per quarter-cup (marinara sauce, anyone?).
These yellow fruits may be the best-known source of potassium. Indeed, one medium banana contains about 422 milligrams. Banana’s cousin, the plantain, is also a potassium-rich pick.
Bananas aren’t the only fruits filled with potassium. Cantaloupe, dates, nectarines and oranges all have more than 250 milligrams per half-cup serving. Dried peaches, apricots, prunes and raisins are good sources as well.
As if you needed another reason to reach for the guacamole, a half-cup serving of creamy avocado contains about 364 milligrams of potassium.
From fruit salad to avocado toast, a fancy fish dinner to a bowl of tomatoey spaghetti, there are so many great ways to get your fill of potassium. Your health — and your taste buds — will thank you.