Potassium is a mineral in your cells that helps your nerves and muscles work right. The right balance of potassium also keeps your heart beating at a steady rate.
A potassium level that is too high or too low can be dangerous. If your levels are high or low, you may need to change the way you eat.
You can control the amount of potassium you get in your diet by being aware of which foods are low or high in potassium.
When choosing foods from lists like the one below, note the serving size. Otherwise, it can be easy to get too much or too little potassium.
Food (no table salt added)
1 oz (24 nuts)
Apricots, dried, sulfured, uncooked
Artichoke, (globe or french), cooked, boiled, drained
Beef, ground, 80% lean meat, broiled
Beets, cooked, boiled, drained
Broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained
Brussels sprouts, cooked, boiled, drained
Clams, canned, drained solids
Dates, deglet noor
134 g (1 medium potato)
Grapefruit, raw, pink and red, all areas
Greens (beet), cooked, boiled, drained
Lentils, cooked, boiled
Milk, 2% milk fat, with added vitamins A and D
Okra, cooked, boiled, drained
Orange juice, diluted from frozen concentrate, unsweetened
Parsnip, cooked, boiled, drained
Potato, baked, flesh
Potato chips, plain, salted
Salmon, sockeye, baked
Shake, fast food, chocolate
16 fl oz
Soup, chicken vegetable, chunky, canned
Soymilk, original and vanilla, unfortified
Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin
1 potato, 146 g
Tomatoes, canned, stewed
1 fruit, 123 g
Trail mix, chocolate chips, salted nuts and seeds
Tuna, white, canned in water
Turkey, light meat, roasted
Vegetable juice cocktail, canned
Winter squash, baked
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 10 g protein per 8 oz
Some foods and drinks may have hidden potassium. Certain herbal or dietary supplements may also have it. Diet or protein drinks and diet bars often have this mineral. It is also in sports drinks, which are meant to replace potassium you lose during exercise.
Food labels do not have to include the amount of potassium, but some do. Even if potassium is not listed, it may still be in that food.
If you're limiting your potassium, do not use a salt substitute or "lite" salt without talking to your doctor first. These often are very high in potassium.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (2012). USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. Available online: http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl.
February 15, 2013
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
& Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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