Foods plentiful in potassium

Originally Published: July 21, 2000 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 26, 2011
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Dear Alice,

What foods are rich in potassium besides bananas?

Dear Reader,

Don't monkey around and limit yourself to bananas! Although bananas are known to be rich in potassium, there are plenty of fresh, whole foods available that can supply you with an abundance of the essential mineral. Some of the best sources include:

Food

Size

Potassium (in milligrams)

Baked potato with skin

1 medium

850

Spinach

1 cup

840

Cantaloupe

1/2 medium

825

Lima beans

1/2 cup

580

Banana

1 medium

560

Orange juice

8 oz.

496

Salmon

4 oz

437

Milk

8 oz.

400

Navy beans

1/2 cup

395

Avocado

1/2 cup

372

Lentils

1/2 cup

365

The Daily Required Intake (DRI) for adults is currently 4,700 milligrams per day. While this may seem like a lot, eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes should easily get you to the DRI. Potassium plays an integral part in the body, maintaining the balance of fluids and electrolytes inside your body's cells. It also has a hand in normalizing blood pressure, muscle contraction, and transmission of nerve impulses.

Potassium levels can drop while sweating, dieting, using diuretics or laxatives, vomiting, or during bouts of diarrhea. When your potassium levels drop severely, your body can no longer detect the need for water. Severe losses can result in heart arrhythmias, confusion, nerve damage, and paralysis, while generally low potassium intake can raise blood pressure, worsen glucose intolerance, increase metabolic acidity, accelerate calcium bone loss, and increase the likelihood of developing kidney stones. Muscle weakness, cramping, and/or nausea may indicate a potassium deficiency.

Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fresh, whole foods is your best source of potassium. Potassium supplements are not recommended unless under the direction of a health care provider because they can be dangerous for a healthy adult.

Alice