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.
Bagel, plain, enriched
Bread, multi- or whole grain
Cake, angel food, store-bought
1 piece, 28 g
Carbonated beverage (ginger ale, root beer, orange, grape, lemon-lime)
12 fl oz
Cereal, ready-to-eat, puffed rice, fortified
Cereal, ready-to-eat, puffed wheat, fortified
Cheese, Swiss or mozzarella, whole milk
Coffee, brewed from grounds
6 fl oz
Cranberry juice cocktail
8 fl oz
Cucumber, peeled, raw
Gelatin dessert, made from dry mix with water
Grapes, red or green
Hot dog, beef and pork
juice of 1 fruit
Lettuce, iceberg, raw
Macaroni, cooked, enriched
Mushrooms, white, raw
Oil (canola, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean, or sunflower)
Olives, ripe, canned
5 large, 22 g
1 slice, 14 g
Pear, canned, juice pack
1 half fruit
Pizza, cheese topping, regular crust, frozen, cooked
63 g serving
Popcorn, microwave, regular/air-popped
Rice, white, long-grain, regular, cooked
Soup, chicken noodle, canned
Spaghetti, cooked, enriched or whole wheat
Spices: black pepper; chili powder; curry powder
28; 51; 31
Spices, parsley, dried
1 tsp/1 tbsp
Teas: black, brewed; chamomile, brewed
Tomato, cherry, red, ripe
Tortilla chips, plain, white corn
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.
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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