You don’t have to be a professional athlete to know that electrolytes are essential for physical performance. For once, this is a correct statement that commercials have taught us over the years.
Nevertheless, there are far better ways to get electrolytes than from a mix of fruit flavors, coloring, sweeteners, corn syrup, or sugar.
However, sports drinks are still a popular trap for careless shoppers.
In contrast, natural foods high in potassium are a better alternative.
Since knowledge about healthy foods with potassium is particularly scarce, I will devote myself to these today.
What Are Foods High in Potassium?
Potassium is the third most common mineral in the body. But even more importantly, it is one of the essential electrolytes along with sodium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium.
Accordingly, electrolytes are essential chemicals that cells need to function.
Electrolytes such as potassium play a vital role in the fluid balance of muscles and tissue.
Therefore, they are essential for muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as muscle health and recovery.
Accordingly, electrolytes play a crucial role in the following functions (Shrimanker et al. 20201):
- Regulation of the heartbeat
- Control of the body temperature
Moreover, potassium is essential for the so-called sodium-potassium pump. In particular, this function ensures that molecules can move through cell membranes.
Since this happens due to the help of electricity, these minerals are called electrolytes. For example, the sodium-potassium pump enables the following functions in the body:
- Transmission of signals through the nervous system
- Transport of amino acids and nutrients into the cells
- Muscle contraction (incl. the heart)
Health Benefits of High-Potassium Foods
An adequate intake of potassium-rich foods is vital for blood pressure. Contrary to common belief, the low potassium/sodium ratio is usually the cause of high blood pressure.
Moreover, it is not the consumption of salt (sodium) that increases blood pressure but rather the lack of potassium in our diet.
For example, only 2% of Americans get the recommended 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily (Cogswell et al. 20122).
Less Heart Disease Risk
In this sense, potassium deficiency is associated with high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases and strokes.
Accordingly, studies have long shown that even with three times the recommended daily salt intake, consuming whole foods high in potassium significantly lowers blood pressure (Iimura et al. 19813).
Moreover, potassium can help keep blood vessels and arteries soft and prevent the dangerous accumulation of calcium (Sun et al. 20174).
Furthermore, studies can also show that consuming potassium-rich foods can protect against strokes(Weaver 20135).
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin, the storage hormone also involved in nutrient absorption, is necessarily related to potassium.
Studies have shown that consuming foods high in potassium reduces the body’s need for insulin.
Additionally, this increase in insulin sensitivity from foods with potassium acts against the craving for sweets.
Less Muscle Cramps
The first signs that your body is crying out for more potassium or magnesium are muscle cramps and sore muscles.
With this in mind, it’s often dehydration and the associated electrolyte and mineral loss cause muscle cramps (Tabasum et al. 20147).
Since your body needs potassium for muscle contractions, potassium-containing foods help your muscles become less prone to cramps and more robust.
So if you replenish your electrolyte level after exercise, you can prevent muscle pain (Cleary et al. 20068).
Moreover, some scientists suggest that foods high in potassium may even help with menstrual cramps and PMS.
Due to the role of potassium and the sodium-potassium pump, potassium deficiency is also associated with fatigue.
Since it’s essential for energy production, neurological functions, muscle contraction, and fluid balance, a lack of potassium can lead to physical and mental fatigue.
Additionally, potassium deficiency can cause weakness and muscle twitching (Shrimanker et al. 20209).
Improved Bone Density
Surprisingly, current research shows that foods high in potassium can significantly increase bone density.
Potassium enables the body to absorb calcium more efficiently, which helps strengthen the bones (Lambert et al. 201510).
Accordingly, a study of 266 older women found a correlation between bone density and potassium intake.
Therefore, the consumption of potassium-rich foods can play a significant role in the prevention of osteoporosis (Zhu et al. 200911).
Fewer Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are hard, lumpy minerals forming a stone you can feel in your back and urinary tract. Accordingly, they can be very painful.
If you have had one before, the chances of another kidney stone are also higher. And potassium deficiency is associated with increased formation of kidney stones.
Nevertheless, a high-potassium diet can more than halve the risk of kidney stones (Ferraro et al. 201612).
Since kidney stones formed by calcium are a sign that the urine is too acidic, it needs to be neutralized.
As potassium has an alkaline effect, it can increase the urine’s pH value and prevent kidney stones’ formation.
Because potassium citrate binds calcium, it deprives it of the ability to link with other minerals and thus cause kidney stones.
Therefore, more calcium in urine means a higher risk of kidney stones, while less means a lower risk.
Since we know about the benefits of potassium, the next question is: Can you consume too much potassium?
How Much Potassium Is Too Much?
An overdose due to the intake of natural foods with potassium is very unlikely unless you are undergoing one of the following treatments:
- Cancer treatment
- Kidney disease
- Another significant disease
Symptoms of High Potassium
The main symptoms of too much potassium in the body are:
In particularly severe cases, too much potassium can lead to cardiac arrest.
However, such high levels are usually due to illness or excessive intake of potassium salts or other dietary supplements, but not by potassium-rich foods.
Potassium Supplements Side Effects
Although an overdose of potassium can occur, this usually happens by taking dietary supplements, not by eating whole foods high in potassium.
Because of these safety concerns, potassium supplements are required by law to contain very little potassium.
Nevertheless, this is another reason for increasing potassium levels with natural foods containing potassium.
How Much Potassium per Day
Adults need about 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day from food intake.
If your body has too little potassium, it is hypokalemia. For instance, this means that the sodium-potassium pump no longer functions properly, which can lead to cramps and cardiac arrhythmia (Weiss et al. 201713).
Potassium deficiency can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
And common symptoms that the body does not get enough potassium from food are:
- Stomach cramps
However, healthy bodies should be able to regulate the potassium level themselves. Nevertheless, some health conditions can get in the way of this principle of homeostasis and cause a potassium deficiency:
- Antihypertensive drugs
- Intensive endurance training
- Elevated cortisol levels
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Kidney diseases
- Vomiting, diarrhea, and laxatives
If you suffer from a disease or are taking medication that reduces potassium, you should talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms of a potassium deficiency.
Nevertheless, it’s always good to ensure sufficient potassium in your diet.
High-Potassium Foods on Keto and Fasting
If you are starting intermittent fasting or a ketogenic diet, you can excrete more potassium and other electrolytes because the body breaks down water.
When you eliminate carbohydrates from your diet, the body begins to break down glycogen stores and then burns body fat to produce energy.
However, each gram of glycogen binds three grams of water. And this water is broken down with the carbohydrate stores.
Since this water leaves the body via urine, electrolytes are repeatedly flushed out.
Although research does not yet agree on whether a low-carbohydrate diet can lower potassium levels, you are safe eating foods high in potassium (Davis et al. 200814).
Fortunately, even the top 10 foods high in potassium are low-carb, so you can easily integrate them into your diet.
Best Foods High in Potassium
Now that you are an expert on the effects of potassium, it is time to choose the best natural foods rich in potassium.
Accordingly, the following whole foods packed with nutrients can naturally prevent high blood pressure, muscle cramps, fatigue, and kidney stones.
Since the foods are sorted according to their potassium content, you will find the comparative value of potassium per 100g of the food in brackets.
1. Pumpkin Seeds (807mg/100g)
In addition to a large charge of potassium, these little powerhouses also supply plenty of magnesium, copper, and zinc.
Moreover, they are a source of the amino acid tryptophan, which promotes restful sleep.
Furthermore, Pumpkin seeds and nuts go well with cheese and spice up any salad.
However, you should not eat massive amounts of pumpkin seeds, which could negatively affect your omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio.
Nevertheless, even minimal pumpkin seeds can significantly boost your potassium levels.
2. Spinach (558mg/100g)
Popeye’s favorite green stuff can help you get to 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day without effort.
This popular side dish or salad ingredient is one of the nutrient champions par excellence and therefore covers the daily requirement of vitamins A and K, even in small portions.
3. Wild Salmon (490mg/100g)
Wild-caught salmon is among the healthiest fish you can eat.
In addition to wild salmon, many other fatty fish, such as yellowfin tuna, can also be remarkable potassium-rich foods that also provide an omega-3 boost:
- Tuna (444mg/100g)
- Herring (327mg/100g)
- Mackerel (314mg/100g)
Furthermore, it’s not a big secret that fatty fish helps you lose weight.
4. Avocados (485mg/100g)
Besides being one of the best healthy sources of fat for losing weight, avocado is also a rich source of potassium.
As one study shows, even 5 hours after eating avocados, people are about 30% less hungry than after other meals (Wien et al. 201316).
Already 2.5 avocados cover the daily potassium requirement. Moreover, an avocado covers about 10% of the magnesium requirement and is an excellent means of preventing muscle cramps.
Furthermore, this fruit, rich in water-soluble fiber, increases the absorption of nutrients from other foods.
Accordingly, one study has found that avocados in salad have approximately 3-5 times the amount of antioxidants and carotenoids absorbed (Unlu et al. 200517).
5. Mushrooms (484mg/100g)
Porto Bello and white mushrooms add flavor, texture, and potassium to a meal.
Also, they contain hardly any net carbs and a moderate amount of protein, making mushrooms keto-friendly.
6. Brussels Sprouts (389mg/100g)
In addition to potassium intake, brussels sprouts promote weight loss due to their fiber and, therefore, low net carbs. Accordingly, Brussels sprouts also fit nicely into a ketogenic diet.
Whether roasted or steamed is not essential as long as you do not cook Brussels sprouts too long, which gives them a sulfurous taste.
7. Parsnips (375mg/100g)
Just like celery, parsnips are a white root vegetable.
In addition to potassium, parsnips are also rich in vitamin C and folate, which are essential for skin and tissue health, cell division, and the prevention of congenital disabilities (Obeid et al. 201618).
Also, parsnips, such as avocados, contain soluble fiber that promotes satiety.
8. Beetroot (325mg/100g)
Beets are low in calories and fiber and rich in iron. Therefore, beetroot is an excellent source of potassium for women in particular.
Because women lose about half a liter of iron per year during menstruation, they suffer from iron deficiency more often than men (Weinberg 201019).
Moreover, iron, like potassium, is a mineral that contributes to the proper functioning of muscles by stimulating blood flow to the muscles, thus increasing performance.
9. Pork (325mg/100g)
Pork is better than its reputation. For example, pork chops are a fabulous food with potassium.
As with all meat and dairy products, the more species-appropriate the feed, the better the food’s nutrient profile.
Accordingly, organic pork provides you with a better supply of nutrients. After all, you wouldn’t want to be fattened with GMO soy, corn, or grain, would you?
10. Chicken (225mg/100g)
One of the most popular protein sources is also food high in potassium.
Grilled chicken can improve your potassium intake. Furthermore, I recommend eating chicken with skin because the collagen, which is essential for skin, hair, muscles, and joints, is hidden there.
Moreover, chicken soup, which you may know as a traditional dish for colds, is also a remarkable collagen and electrolyte booster.
The Bottom Line
As a fan of real natural foods, I can only advise you to replenish your pantry with my top 10 foods high in potassium. This way, you don’t have to worry about a possible potassium overdose from excessive supplementation.
Moreover, these potassium-rich foods will help you lose weight and prevent inflammation.
So, what is your favorite potassium food, and why?
Leave it at the bottom of the page as a comment! And feel free to ask anything there.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What foods are high in potassium to avoid?
Dietary supplements 💊 usually cause excessive potassium levels. Therefore, screen your food supplements carefully when experiencing high potassium levels and consult a professional. If you want to lose weight, avoid high-carb potassium foods like bananas 🍌.
How can I raise my potassium level quickly?
You can raise your potassium level quickly by eating pumpkin seeds, spinach 🥬, and avocados 🥑.
What food has more potassium than bananas?
For example, Spinach 🥬, Salmon 🐟, and Avocados 🥑 have more potassium than bananas.
Are eggs high in potassium?
With 37.5 Milligrams per ounce, eggs 🥚 are moderate in potassium.
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Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.
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