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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Potassium Potency!

If you were to pick up a can of green beans at the market, you could easily flip it over to find out how much sodium it contains. But potassium is another story. The Dietary Guidelines recommend taking in no more than 2,300 mg of sodium and at least 4,700 mg of potassium daily. But with potassium, how do you know if you’re anywhere near 4,700 mg (unlike sodium, it's not required to appear on the label)? And why is potassium so important anyway?

Well, potassium helps nerves and muscles function properly, helps maintain the body’s pH level, and helps control blood pressure. In fact, potassium offsets the effect of sodium on blood pressure.

But potassium should come from food, not supplements. That’s because taking in too much potassium (from concentrated supplements) can lead to an irregular heart beat and even heart attack. Fortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get too much from food. The trick is not getting too little!

Here’s a list of high potassium foods – compare the mg per serving to the 4,700 recommended per day. How does your intake stack up?

Potatoes, baked – 1 medium - 1081 mg
Lima beans – 1 cup – 955 mg
Tomato sauce, canned – 1 cup – 909 mg
Winter squash – 1 cup – 896 mg
Prunes, dried – 1 cup – 828 mg
Spinach, cooked – 1 cup – 839 mg
Bananas, fresh – 1 cup sliced – 594 mg
Yogurt plain, skim – 1 cup – 579 mg
Raisins – 1/2 cup – 545 mg
Beets, cooked – 1 cup – 519 mg
Brussels sprouts, cooked – 1 cup – 504 mg
Orange juice – 1 cup – 496 mg
Cantaloupe – 1 cup – 494 mg
Melon, honeydew – 1 cup – 461 mg
Milk, fat free or skim – 1 cup – 407 mg
Apricots, dried – 10 – 407 mg
Nectarines – 1 medium – 288 mg
Dates, dried – 5 – 271 mg
Figs, dried – 2 – 271 mg
Kiwi, raw – 1 medium – 252 mg
Oranges – 1 medium – 237 mg
Pears, fresh – 1 medium – 208 mg
Peanuts dry roasted, unsalted – 1/4 cup – 187 mg

P.S. If you’ve been told to follow a low potassium diet for medical reasons, check out Andrea Giancoli’s post from her blog the Family Fork.

photo courtesy of National Cancer Institute
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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