Potassium is an important mineral that plays a vital role in the body. It works as an electrolyte. When dissolved in water, it releases positively charged ions. This property of electrical conduction is vital to many processes in the body such as nerve conduction and maintenance of normal heart rhythm.
An adequate potassium intake for adults is 4,700 mg daily, but the value is different for children and people with kidney problems. Most people in the US do not meet this goal. Lower potassium levels can cause muscle weakness, cramps and cognitive problems like confusion. Your doctor will most probably advise you to eat a potassium-rich diet provided your kidney function is normal. A potassium-rich diet is linked to several health benefits. It may help reduce blood pressure and fluid buildup in the body. It also acts as a preventive measure against brittle bones (osteoporosis) and kidney stones.
Sometimes, the doctor may also advise you to avoid a lot of potassium-rich foods. Your body may retain potassium when you have kidney disease. If your kidneys are not working well, a high potassium level might cause life-threatening heart and nerve problems.
Whether the doctor has advised you to go on a potassium-rich diet or avoid it, it is good to know which foods are high in potassium. Let us have a look at them.
The following food sources are high in potassium and contain more than 200 mg of potassium per 0.5 cup serving.
- Fresh fruits: Bananas, avocados, oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, apricots, honeydew, guava and kiwi.
- Dry fruits: Prunes, raisins and dates.
- Vegetables: Leafy greens, artichokes, cooked spinach, cooked broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, zucchini, pumpkins, parsnips, Swiss chard, beets and beet greens and Brussels sprouts.
- Dairy products (low-fat or fat-free): Milk and yogurt.
- Fish: Tuna, halibut, cod, rockfish and trout.
- Beans or legumes: Kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, soybeans and lentils.
- Other foods: Bran cereal, nuts, molasses, meat, poultry, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta and salt substitutes (read labels).
Which fruits contain a low amount of potassium?
The following foods contain less than 150 mg of potassium per 0.5 cup serving.
- Cabbage (raw)
- Onion (sliced)
Your doctor will usually tell you if you need to improve or reduce your potassium intake. For additional concerns, see a certified nutritionist to get a personalized diet plan.
What causes potassium deficiency?
- Several episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Diarrhea that results from laxative overuse (abuse)
- Excessive sweating
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Certain medications
- Diuretics (causes loss of potassium through frequent urination)
- Diabetic ketoacidosis (a serious complication of diabetes that is caused by severely high blood sugar levels)
- Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland)
- Poor diet (a diet low in potassium) as in cases of anorexia nervosa
- Overactive adrenal gland
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Primary aldosteronism
- Kidney disease
- Colon villous polyps (noncancerous extra growths in the colon)
- Liddle syndrome (a rare hereditary disorder that often begins in childhood and causes an increase in blood pressure)
- Bartter syndrome (a rare genetic disorder in which a defective kidney causes salt and potassium imbalance)
- Gitelman syndrome (a rare genetic kidney disorder that causes an imbalance of ions in the body)
- Post-surgical electrolyte disturbance
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