Most Europeans do not get enough of this essential mineral in their diet. Adding more of the following potassium-rich foods may help.
Outside of chemists, athletes, and people with high blood pressure, most people don’t really think about potassium, a mineral you probably last heard about while learning about the periodic table in chemistry class (where its abbreviation is the letter K).
Yet potassium plays a vital role in health. It helps regulate fluid levels in the body, contributes to muscle function and the proper functioning of the nervous system, among other functions. It also plays a key role in cardiovascular health. Potassium is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and keeping your heart beating regularly. Potassium lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension and may decrease the risk of stroke.
To respect the recommended daily intake of potassium, you must reassess your diet. Potassium comes from various foods we eat, especially fruits and vegetables. And yes, that includes bananas, which contain 422 mg per medium-sized fruit. However, to be considered high in potassium, a food must contain 20% or more of the recommended daily value, or 940 mg per serving.
We’ve rounded up 10 more colorful, tasty, and potassium-rich foods to add to your diet, and provided preparation suggestions that will keep you coming back for more.
1 acorn squash
There are so many varieties of squash that you can find one in season, no matter what time of year. This round winter variety, with green skin and orange flesh, is rich in fiber and vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. One cup of cooked acorn squash contains 896 mg.
It has a slightly sweet flavor that is enhanced by roasting. Cut it in half, remove the seeds, cut it into rings and roast it with a little salt, pepper and brown sugar. It gets so tender and sweet. Kids will love it, and they can eat it like a slice of watermelon!
2 sun-dried tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes contain a decent amount of potassium (a medium tomato has 292 mg), and you’ll get even more bang for your buck with more concentrated forms of tomatoes, like tomato paste (162 mg per tablespoon) or tomato sauce (728 mg per cup). But sun-dried tomatoes trump with 925 mg of potassium per half cup, or 35 percent of the recommended amount for adult women. That’s not all they have to offer: Sun-dried tomatoes are high in fiber, with over 6 grams per cup, vitamin C, and even protein. You can find them plain or packed in heart-healthy olive oil, and both make a delicious addition to salads, sandwiches, or pizza. You can also chop them and add them to pesto or sauces.
3 red beans
Beans are a healthy addition to your diet as they are a good source of vegetable protein and fiber. One cup of this kidney-shaped strain provides 713 mg of potassium. You can buy them dried or canned, but if you opt for the latter, be sure to drain and rinse them before using. Kidney beans and other types of beans are great in soups and chilis.
4 The kiwi
Bananas tend to get all the credit when it comes to potassium-rich fruits, but a single small kiwi contains almost as much potassium, or 215 milligrams, as a whole banana. Other fruits that should be on your shopping list: Oranges, including their juice. A single cup of kiwi exceeds an average banana with 427 milligrams. Its high water content also means that the kiwi is super hydrating and its orange color indicates the presence of beta-carotene, a plant pigment with antioxidant properties. A fruit salad, anyone?
This creamy, green-fleshed fruit is not only high in fiber and heart-healthy fats, it also contains 690 mg of potassium. It is therefore twice as beneficial for your heart. Incorporating healthier monounsaturated fats into your diet via avocados may benefit your heart by increasing “good” levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Avocado is so versatile that you can incorporate it into any meal of the day. In addition to crushing it to make toast and guacamol, you can add slices to sandwiches (use it instead of butter or mayonnaise).
There are plenty of reasons to eat more of this lean protein, and here’s one more to add to the list. Many species are an excellent source of potassium. Some fish (such as wild salmon, some varieties of tuna, halibut, trout and cod) are better sources than others. If you don’t like saltwater fish, red meat (including lean beef), chicken, and turkey also provide good amounts of potassium.
Potatoes have a bad nutritional reputation, but it’s usually because of the way they’re prepared (fries or crisps in oil, sour cream and butter). Still, the staple potato is a nutritional benchmark, especially when it comes to potassium. A medium-sized russet potato contains nearly 900 mg of this nutrient, while other varieties (red, yellow, and even sweet potatoes) contain 400 mg and more. These popular starches are also a good source of fiber (leave the skin on to get the most of this satiating nutrient), vitamin C, and iron. For a healthier way to eat potatoes, try steaming and mashing them with a little chicken broth to flavor them, roasting them with olive oil and herbs, or to bake them in the oven.
8 Dairy products
Although fruits and vegetables are among the best dietary sources of potassium, dairy products can also add this mineral to your diet. A cup of whole milk contains more than 350 mg of potassium, while the same amount of skimmed milk contains more than 400 mg. (In general, the lower the fat in the milk, the higher the potassium content). On the other hand, a cup of fat-free plain Greek yogurt contains almost 350 mg.
9 Dark green leaves
Among the best sources of potassium are dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, which when cooked contain an astonishing 1180 mg per cup. Swiss chard is next at nearly 1,000 mg per cup cooked, and even bok choy has around 445 mg per cup when cooked. All of these foods contain some potassium even when eaten raw, but more when cooked.
10 Dried fruits
Fresh fruits and vegetables are your best bets, but when they’re not in season, dried fruits are a good second choice for a potassium-rich snack. Dehydrating fruits concentrates all of their nutrients, including potassium. However, it also concentrates sugar. So be sure to check labels if you’re watching the amount of sugary products you consume, and avoid varieties with added sugars. Dried apricots give you about 750 mg per half cup. Dried plums and raisins are other good choices. They make a great snack, especially with nuts in dried fruit mixes, but you can also use them to add a little sweetness to your salads.