January 26, 2022

How Potassium Helps Lower Your Blood Pressure

Understanding the connection between potassium and heart health

Smoothie with kiwi avocado bananas potassium rich

Keeping track of your blood pressure and keeping it within healthy levels is an essential part of your overall long-term health. A well-balanced diet is important for this, too, making sure your body receives the necessary nutrients and vitamins, including potassium.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

While other nutrients are important to your health, potassium is recognized particularly for its ability to help lower high blood pressure. To better understand how that happens and how to incorporate a healthy amount of potassium into your diet, we spoke to cardiovascular specialist Raghavendra Makam, MD, MPH.

Does potassium lower blood pressure?

Dr. Makam confirms that, yes, potassium really does lower blood pressure. “The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends having a sufficient potassium intake both as a preventative measure and a treatment option for patients with hypertension,” he notes.

How does potassium lower blood pressure?

Dr. Makam explains that the most direct way potassium helps lower blood pressure is in how the nutrient interacts with your kidneys and sodium. “We know too much sodium is bad for blood pressure, so kidneys have a mechanism for excreting excess sodium to maintain blood pressure,” he explains. “Potassium helps the kidneys excrete that excess sodium instead of retaining it.”

But potassium also helps improve your body’s overall vascular health, he adds. Potassium eases tension in the walls of blood vessels and that, in turn, can have other benefits on your heart health.

“Because potassium positively affects your entire vascular system, it helps reduce multiple risks,” explains Dr. Makam. “Because it helps blood vessels in your brain, kidneys and heart, it reduces the risk of stroke, kidney failure and heart disease.”

How much potassium do you need on a daily basis?

“Multiple surveys have shown Americans eat too much sodium and not enough potassium,” says Dr. Makam, so getting that balance right as part of a well-rounded diet is essential. “The recommended daily requirement of potassium is around 4,700 to 5,000 milligrams of potassium.”


Good sources of potassium

You’ve probably heard at some point that bananas are the best source of potassium, but Dr. Makam cautions against relying on a single fruit as a staple for your daily potassium requirement.

“Since a medium banana contains about 422 milligrams of potassium, you would have to eat more than 10 bananas a day to get the recommended daily amount of potassium, which is obviously not a wise choice given the additional calories it adds to the diet,” he says.

So while bananas can be one source, it’s important to make sure you’re using other fruits and vegetables to maintain that potassium intake. Other foods Dr. Makam recommends for healthy amounts of potassium include:

  • Cantaloupe.
  • Grapefruit.
  • Nectarines.
  • Kiwi.
  • Carrots.
  • Lima beans.
  • Spinach.
  • Avocados.

Besides making sure your diet is well-balanced, Dr. Makam recommends factoring in other components, like sugar and starch contents, when choosing foods.

Are potassium supplements OK?

While some people may choose to include certain dietary supplements as part of their daily intake, Dr. Makam notes, “Nature trumps man-made stuff. It’s always preferable to get these nutrients and vitamins in adequate amounts from natural sources.”

Because of the unregulated nature of supplements, he says, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare provider about ways to improve your intake of certain nutrients and vitamins before buying any supplements.


Is there such a thing as too much potassium?

Just as with anything, it’s possible to have too much potassium, says Dr. Makam. “Too much potassium can cause severe muscle weakness and heart rhythm problems that can be serious if not diagnosed and corrected early.”

People who should avoid high amounts of potassium

Dr. Makam notes that angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and Aldosterone antagonists, which are some of the common medications designed to lower blood pressure, already help your body retain potassium. If you’re taking one of these medications and include extra potassium on top of that, there are risks of complications.

He also points out that people with kidney disease should also avoid excess potassium. Damaged kidneys can’t remove excess potassium from your blood, so the amount can build to dangerous levels, if not monitored correctly.

“The key is balance,” says Dr. Makam. “Your healthcare provider will know your specific health conditions, your current medications and latest blood levels, which will help come up with the right approach for you.”

Related Articles

Person using electronic blood pressure monitor at home.
November 6, 2023
Buying a Home Blood Pressure Monitor? 6 Things You Need To Know

Steer clear of bells and whistles — simple, affordable monitors are all you really need

doctor showing heart rate and blood pressure watch monitor
October 31, 2023
The Relationship Between Your Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Both are related to your cardiovascular system, and both can impact the other

chopped and whole onions on cutting board
May 29, 2023
Stop the Tears: Why Onions Are Good for You

Beyond the tell-tale aroma, onions also provide benefits like strong bones and a healthy heart

Someone feeling light-headed, seeing birds and stars.
February 1, 2023
The Link Between Dehydration and Blood Pressure

Not drinking enough fluids can send your blood pressure on a rollercoaster ride

High potassium foods.
November 21, 2022
6 Natural Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure

Aerobic exercise, a low-sodium diet and reduced alcohol consumption can all help

Bulbs of garlic on a cutting board.
September 14, 2022
Does Garlic Lower Blood Pressure?

It could help with hypertension, but skip the supplement and enjoy garlic in your food instead

Green tea extract in Pill formula
March 22, 2022
Is Green Tea Extract Beneficial?

The energy drink staple packs a caffeine punch, but caution is recommended

food to lower your blood pressure
March 10, 2022
6 Types of Foods That Lower Blood Pressure

Foods high in vitamins C and E can help lower your blood pressure

Trending Topics

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try

Exercise and diet over three months is hard to accomplish.
Everything You Need To Know About the 75 Hard Challenge

Following five critical rules daily for 75 days may not be sustainable

Person in foreground standing in front of many presents with person in background holding gift bags.
What Is Love Bombing?

This form of psychological and emotional abuse is often disguised as excessive flattery