Admit it: Incorporating more potassium into your diet isn't at the top of your priorities. (That is until you're in the middle of a cramp, in which case you reach for a banana.) Although, there are many reasons you should start reaching for potassium-rich foods aside from their cramp-curing qualities. In fact, this mineral is crucial to our body's functions and helps to maintain the health of our cells and organs. "Because this nutrient is under-consumed, it's a public health concern in the United States," says registered dietitian nutritionist Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN. The 2015–2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 4700 mg of potassium each day although a study found that the average American woman gets only half of the recommended intake.
The recommended amount supports fluid balance, bone health, cardiovascular and digestive health, and muscular function. The problem is that many American diets are high in refined grains, processed meats, and sugary beverages, says Feller. "This pattern of eating is not in line with consuming minimally processed vegetables, fruit, and whole grains—which are potassium-rich," she says. Some symptoms of a potassium deficiency (aka hypokalemia) are constipation, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, tingling, and numbness. But avoiding these conditions is easier than you may think. All you have to do is focus on basics foods that give you more of the nutrients you need.
Read on to see the 22 potassium-rich foods you should keep in your kitchen at all times.
"Beet greens are a nutritional powerhouse," says Feller. In just half of a cup, you get a dose of potassium as well as protein; folate; phosphorus zinc; dietary fiber; vitamins A, C, E, and K; calcium, and more. Feller recommends eating it as a side dish or as the base of a warm, winter salad.
The details: 1/2 cooked cup equals 654 mg of potassium.
These red beans are often used in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Just one cup gives you 70% of your daily value for potassium. "These wonderfully flavorful beans also supply iron, B vitamins, and magnesium," says Feller.
The details: 1/2 cooked cup equals 612 mg of potassium.
Why not try some plant-based protein? Incorporate white beans into a pot of cooked vegetables or in some soup. "They provide prebiotic fibers as well as vitamin C, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium," explains Feller.
The details: 1/2 cup canned white beans equals 595 mg of potassium.
"Plain yogurt can be a great snack with a small handful of nuts and a few pieces of fresh fruit on top," suggests Feller. It provides about 12% of your daily potassium needs.
The details: Eight ounces of low-fat or nonfat yogurt equals 531 to 579 mg of potassium.
"In my opinion, a sweet potato needs no topping," says Feller. "One cup provides 12% of your daily value of potassium, along with fiber and vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.”
The details: One medium sweet potato baked (with skin) equals 542 mg of potassium.
"Salmon is known for its outstanding omega-3 content and stunning nutrient profile," says Feller. One serving of Atlantic wild salmon can give you about 20% of your daily recommended potassium intake.
The details: Three ounces of cooked Atlantic wild salmon equals 534 mg of potassium.
Acorn squash boasts an array of vitamins and minerals, and supplies about 13% of your daily potassium requirement. "It's edible in its entirety—a zero-waste food—you can roast it and eat the skin, plus roast the seeds," says Feller.
The details: 1/2 cup equals 448 mg of potassium.
Black Turtle Beans
Black turtle beans are most commonly used in Latin American cooking. "They're nutritious and delicious," says Feller. "They're a great source of fiber, and one cup provides a whopping 78% of your daily recommended intake of potassium."
The details: 1/2 cup equals 401 mg of potassium.
"Bananas are probably the most famous source of potassium, but they're not actually the highest," says Feller. One medium banana gives you about 12% of your daily recommended intake of potassium. Fun fact: In some areas of the world, people consume the peel too, says Feller.
The details: One medium banana equals 422 mg of potassium.
"This very low-calorie mild leafy green can be consumed raw or cooked," says Feller. Other than being potassium-rich, it's a great source of vitamins K, A, and C. Plus, it supplies plant-based iron.
The details: 1/2 cup cooked equals 370 to 419 mg of potassium.
"Rainbow trout is an excellent source of vitamin D as well as omega-3 fatty acids," says Feller. "Also, depending on how they are raised, they can also be environmentally friendly."
The details: Three ounces equals 381 mg of potassium.
"I prefer unsulfured apricots that are a bit darker," explains Feller. "They can be a fantastic alternative to sugar-sweetened foods when consumed in moderation since they are naturally sweet," she says. Plus, apricots provide vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
The details: 1/4 cup equals 378 mg of potassium.
This delicious green tastes great as a cold salad after it's been cooked. It also tastes great sprinkled with some salt and pepper. "It provides vitamins A, C, and K; magnesium; and protein on top of potassium," says Feller.
The details: 1/2 cup cooked equals 481 mg of potassium.
"Pinto beans are a great source of fiber, trace minerals, and B vitamins," explains Feller. Plus, one serving supplies just under 40% of the daily recommended amount of potassium.
The details: 1/2 cup cooked equals 373 mg of potassium.
Lima beans (aka Madagascar beans) are green beans known for their buttery taste. "They serve up an impressive amount of potassium while helping to give you much-needed fiber, copper, and manganese," says Feller.
The details: 1/2 cup cooked equals 478 mg of potassium.
"The amaranth grain comes from a flowering plant, and the leaves are a nutritional wonder," says Feller. Just one cup provides 30% of the daily value of calcium (which is great for vegans or those who don't consume dairy) and 28% of the daily value for potassium.
The details: 1/2 cup equals 423 mg of potassium.
"Lentils are a source of plant-based iron as well as vitamin B6 and magnesium," says Feller. "They're wonderful in a bean-based salad or in a hearty stew."
The details: 1/2 cup cooked equal 365 mg of potassium.
In case you didn't know, plantains are cooking bananas that are either eaten green or ripe (they're enjoyed sweet or savory and are popular in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa). "Just one medium plantain supplies one-fourth of your daily potassium needs along with vitamins C and A," explains Feller.
The details: 1/2 cooked cup equals 358 mg of potassium.
Need another bean to add to your diet? "Kidney beans provide 73% of your daily value for potassium as well as vitamins and minerals. Plus they taste great in a chili or stew," says Feller.
The details: 1/2 cooked cup equals 358 mg of potassium.
"Avocados provide almost 20 vitamins and minerals in a creamy delicious vessel of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat," says Feller. Add some of this fruit to your toast, salad, or homemade guacamole. Just half a cup gives you about 20% of your daily potassium requirement.
The details: 1/2 cup equals 364 mg of potassium.
A baked potato is a great alternative to just upping your banana intake. One medium spud actually gives you more potassium than a banana, along with a generous amount of vitamin C, fiber, magnesium and vitamin B6, says Feller.
The details: One medium baked potato equals 941 mg of potassium.
"You may be surprised to learn that dried peaches supply a bit of protein in addition to a nice array of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, iron, and copper," says Feller. And that's in addition to potassium.
The details: 1/4 cup equals 399 mg of potassium.
Looking for recipes that incorporate potassium-rich foods? Whip up a pomegranate-glazed salmon, some plantain black-bean tacos, or creamy spinach lentils, and then read about the wonders of the world everyone should see in their lifetime.