I recently had a conversation with my brother about an unfortunate leg cramping incident he experienced while completing the physical agility test for the fire fighter position he is applying for. One factor he blamed was a lack of potassium, since he forgot his banana at home that morning. Bummer! BANANA FAIL.
I understood the dilemma caused by a missing banana. In fact, I've been having wild banana cravings (highly unusual for me), which I attribute to my body telling me I have a potassium deficiency from all these antibiotics I've been taking. Since I'm just a wee bit allergic to bananas and am also sensitive to sugar, I can't eat a whole load of them. So, I've been researching other high potassium foods, and have been alarmed to discover that there are loads of foods that pack a mean potassium punch! I've been hitting the potassium pretty hard the last few weeks, and feel less banana-cravy now.
After his hearing his tale and falling back on my experience,I replied with the following: "Dude, there are lots of foods higher in potassium than bananas." Then I insisted on sending him a potassium-packed care package, which will be going in the mail tomorrow.
Know-it-all big sisters like me must be such a pain in the a**.
Why Potassium Rocks
Potassium is important. According to The World's Healthiest Foods, potassium helps your muscles and nerves do their job, and can help lower your risk of high blood pressure. Potassium and sodium work hand-in-hand to regulate proper electrolyte and acid-base levels, which is key in maintaining proper heart health. Potassium deficiency can occur with long-term antibiotic use (like with long-term treatment for Lyme Disease or other chronic infections). Individuals that take part in intense exercise regimens require a lot of potassium, as do many individuals that suffer from chronic diarrhea, heart problems, fatigue, muscle weakness, or require the frequent use of diuretics. Additionally, if you feel confused, irritable, or spacey, you may just need a shot of potassium! One more cool fact: eating ample quantities of potassium allows for better absorption and retention of calcium.
Thankfully, those who need to increase their potassium can find adequate potassium in certain foods; in most cases, additional dietary supplements are not needed.
High Potassium Foods
Here is a list of foods that contain a high amount of potassium. Measurement of potassium in milligrams and the quantity of food is listed.
Daily Recommended Potassium (K): 3,500-4,700 mg Too much: 18,000 mg
- 1,309 mg - Beet Greens (1 cup)
- 1,189 mg - White Beans (1 cup)
- 1,081 mg - Baked Potato with skin (1 medium)
- 960 mg - Swiss Chard (1 cup, cooked)
- 955 mg - Lima Beans (1 cup)
- 896 mg - Winter Squash, ecooked (1 cup)
- 886 mg - Soybeans, cooked (1 cup)
- 839 mg - Spinach (1 cup)
- 814 mg - Dried Apricots (10)
- 784 mg - Kelp (Kombu) seaweed (7 grams)
- 731 mg - Lentils (1 cup)
- 713 mg - Kidney Beans (1 cup)
- 709 mg - Split Peas, cooked (1 cup)
- 707 mg - Prune juice (1 cup)
- 690 mg - Black Eyed Peas (1 cup)
- 689 mg - Carrot juice (1 cup)
- 653 mg - Halibut, baked or broiled (4 oz)
- 645 mg - Yellowfin Tuna, baked or broiled (4 oz)
- 644 mg - Jerusalem Artichokes (1 cup)
- 635 mg - Crimini Mushrooms (5 oz)
- 595 mg - Artichoke (1 cup)
- 591 mg - Snapper, baked or broiled (4 oz)
- 586 mg - Cod, baked or broiled (4 oz)
- 573 mg - Parsnips (1 cup)
- 547 mg - Dulse seaweed (7 grams, about 1/3 cup)
- 544 mg - Raisins (1/2 cup)
- 542 mg - Dates (10)
- 542 mg - Figs, dried or fresh (4)
- 540 mg - Avocado (3 oz)
- 535 mg - Alaria seaweed (7 grams)
- 531 mg - Yogurt (cow or goat, not non-dairy varieties) (8 oz)
- 518 mg - Beets (1 cup cooked)
- 508 mg - Sweet Potatoes (1 medium, with skin)
- 504 mg - Brussels Sprouts (1 cup)
- 498 mg - Molasses (1 Tbsp)
- 494 mg - Melon/cantaloupe (1 cup)
- 477 mg - Chickpeas/Garbanzos (1 cup)
- 467 mg - Bananas (1 medium)
- 456 mg - Broccoli (1 cup)
Other foods that are very good and good sources of potassium include romaine lettuce, celery, fennel, mustard greens, tomatoes, turnip greens, collard greens, summer squash, eggplant, green beans, kale, carrots, turmeric, asparagus, papaya, bell peppers, ginger root, strawberries, onions, watermelon, cabbage, prunes, raspberries, scallops, and grapes.
Easy Ways to Pack in the Potassium
- Add yogurt, banana, melon, or avocado to your smoothies. Avocado, melon, and banana can be sliced and frozen, and add a wonderful creamy consistency and cold temperature once blended.
- Add sliced roasted or raw grated beets, sliced avocado, or beans or lentils to salads.
- Get a mixture of greens in your salads - romaine, spinach, or finely chopped dark leafy greens
- Add molasses to tea or coffee, or mix half-n-half with maple syrup or agave nectar to use on pancakes.
- Make a big batch of hummus to use through the week with raw veggies, on sandwiches, or with salads.
- Snack on dried apricots, figs, dates, or raisins mixed with raw nuts or seeds for a healthy balanced treat on-the-go.
- Forgo starchy sides of rice or quinoa for a side of roasted parsnips, baked winter squash, or roasted jerusalem artichoke
- Afternoon tummy grumbles? How about snacking on a baked sweet potato or regular potato? You can bake them in advance, or cheat and bake in the microwave in a matter of minutes (if you use a microwave).
- Whip up a batch of sauteed greens to eat with dinner - they go with anything! Beet greens can be prepared just like sauteed spinach, chard, kale, or other dark leafies.
- Add greens to soups and stews.
- Use mashed banana in place of eggs in baking.
- Add dulse to salads, sauteed vegetables, or pan toast it and eat as a snack. (other dulse recipe ideas here)
- Add kelp/kombu to the pot when cooking beans or when making soup stock. (other kombu recipes here)
- Use alaria in miso soup or other soups - it is the perfect soup seaweed (alaria recipe ideas here)
Here is a selection of a few of my highest-potassium recipes that are easy to make and totally delicious.
- Avocado Shamrock Shake (GF, vegan, ACD, raw option)
- Apple & Avocado Salad with Fresh Herbs (GF, vegan, ACD, raw)
- Parsnips, Chard, and Chickpeas with Besan Puda (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Spicy Zucchini and Chana Dal (GF, vegan, ACD)
- White Bean Salad with Peppers and Herbs (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Rainy Day Lentil Squash Soup (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Black Eyed Pea and Turnip Stew (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Split Pea Spearmint Soup (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Broccoli with Garlic Chips (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Rutabaga Sweet Potato Mash with Vanilla (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Garlic-Seared Brussels Sprouts (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Herb-Roasted Carrots, Parsnips, Brussels Sprouts, and Fennel (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Pan-Fried Parsnips and Leeks (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Jerusalem Artichoke, Broccoli, and Leek Soup with Crispy Shallots (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Red Russian Borscht (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Pumpkin Pie with Crunchy Crust and Cashew Cream (use winter squash instead! GF, vegan, ACD)
- Lima Cashew Cream (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Beet Hummus (GF, vegan, ACD)
- Spicy Mustard Green & Miso SAlad Dressing (GF, vegan, ACD, raw)
- Cashew Raisin Frosting (GF, vegan, raw) - why can't desserts be healthy, right?
- Pesto di Carciofi (Artichoke Pesto) (GF, ACD)
I also have some awesome potassium-packed recipes in my recently published A Year to Eat Freely: 2011 Allergy-Friendly Recipe Calendar. TAsty dishes like Sweet Potato Felafel, No-Bake Sweet Potato Pie, Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts and Apples with Seed Brittle, Second Summer Soup with Pistou, and more! Did I mention the No-Bake Sweet Potato Pie? Just look at all this mouth-watering potassium...