Potassium-Rich Foods

Potassium is one of the “essential” micronutrients you probably learned about in chemistry class (it has the symbol K on the periodic table). It is found in many foods and is also available as a supplement. Like sodium, potassium is an electrolyte that helps maintain normal levels of fluid inside the body’s cells and supports muscle function. It also reduces the harmful effects of too much salt in the diet, lowers blood pressure and may help prevent kidney stones and bone loss, according to MedlinePlus. In addition, a high intake of potassium may lower your risk for heart disease.

Most Americans don’t get enough of this mineral, which is recommended at 4,700 milligrams per day for adults. To meet your needs, stick to a wholesome diet that is low in fat and sodium.

A number of observational studies have linked higher intakes of potassium with a reduced risk for high blood pressure, as well as a lowered risk for stroke and heart disease in general. The research has been influenced by other factors, such as gender and salt intake, but overall, the findings have been consistent.

In addition to lowering blood pressure, potassium has been shown to protect against heart disease by helping the body get rid of excess sodium, which can raise it. A review of several studies including more than 80,000 people showed that those in the highest quintile of potassium intake had a lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those in the lowest quintile.

It’s important to get your potassium from whole foods rather than a supplement, says registered dietitian Tori Vasko of Ann Arbor, Michigan. That way, you’ll also benefit from the fiber and other nutrients in the food, as well as the antioxidants that are typically present. If you choose a supplemental source, the label should list its nutritional value and percentage of Daily Value (DV) per serving.

Butternut squash

This starchy vegetable popular in South America, Western Africa and the Caribbean is rich in potassium. In fact, a cooked, cubed cup of this versatile food holds a whopping 19% of the DV for this mineral.


This fruit may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of potassium-rich foods. A medium banana packs 12% of the DV for this mineral, and it also offers vitamin C and potassium-rich B vitamins.

Sweet potatoes

This nutritious, filling veggie provides not only 16% of the DV for potassium but is a good source of complex carbs and fiber as well. It’s also a good source of potassium-rich vitamin A.