From building muscles to controlling how your heart beats, potassium plays critical roles in the proper functioning of your body. Several foods are rich in potassium, and adding them to your diet will help you reach the daily recommended intake for adults of 4,700 milligrams. Note that if you are undergoing treatment for kidney trouble, the National Institutes of Health advises avoiding foods high in potassium.
Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes are high in potassium content. One baked sweet potato, with skin, contains 694 milligrams, or 15 percent of the RDI, while one baked white potato, with skin, contains 610 milligrams, or 13 percent of the RDI. Sweet potatoes also offer more fiber, vitamins and minerals than white potatoes, making them the better choice.
Tomatoes and Tomato Products
Tomatoes are an excellent source of potassium, with one medium-sized raw tomato containing roughly 273 milligrams. Tomato products such as paste, juice or sauce are even higher in potassium, as they are more concentrated. Just 1/4 cup of tomato paste contains 664 milligrams of potassium. The May 2011 issue of the "International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition" reports that the potassium in tomatoes, along with lycopene, beta-carotene and other vitamins, helps lower blood pressure and heart disease risk.
Leafy greens such as beet greens and spinach are all high in potassium, along with other beneficial vitamins and minerals. Navy, kidney, white and lima beans, soybeans, split peas and winter squash are additional high-potassium vegetable choices. When making your vegetable selection, remember that even though some are higher in potassium than others, they may also be higher in calories. For example, a 1/2-cup serving of white beans contains 595 milligrams of potassium and 153 calories, while a 1/2-cup serving of winter squash has 448 milligrams of potassium, but only 40 calories. If you are watching your weight you may want to consider calorie count per serving along with potassium amount per serving.
Bananas may be the most well-known fruit that is high in potassium, with 1 medium banana containing roughly 422 milligrams. Avocado, citrus fruit, cantaloupe and honeydew are all good choices. Dried peaches and dried apricots are also especially high in potassium, with 398 milligrams in a 1/2-cup serving of dried peaches and 378 milligrams in a 1/2-cup serving of dried apricots. The Sept. 7, 2012 issue of "The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing" reports that increased fruit and vegetable consumption helps raise potassium levels, which in turn lowers the risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Meat and Dairy
All meats contain potassium, but some of the highest amounts are found in seafood products. A 3-ounce serving of clams contains 534 milligrams, or 11 percent of the RDI, and 3 ounces of cod contain 439 milligrams, or 9 percent of the RDI. The National Institutes of Health reports that potassium is also available in dairy, including low-fat and nonfat varieties. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products to avoid consuming extra calories.
- National Insitutes of Health: Medline Plus: Potassium in Diet
- USDA: Food Sources of Selected Nutrients: Potassium
- International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition: The Effects of Tomato Consumption on Serum Glucose, Apolipoprotein B, Apolipoprotein A-I, Homocysteine and Blood Pressure in Type 2 Diabetic Patients
- The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing: Translation and Validation of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension for Koreans Intervention: Culturally Tailored Dietary Guidelines for Korean Americans With High Blood Pressure
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."