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Potassium: Why you need it, and where to get it

Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that's well known to reduce blood pressure.

Because high blood pressure significantly raises the risk for kidney disease and cardiovascular disease such as stroke, coronary heart disease and heart failure, adequate intakes of potassium are associated with their reduced occurrence.

Research also points to potassium's supportive role in bone mineral density, blood sugar control, insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes. The electrolyte is involved with proper muscle contraction and nerve function.

How Much Potassium Do You Need?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends:

  • 2,800mg/day for non-pregnant/lactating women 19 years and older

  • 2,800-2,900mg/day for women 19 years and older who are pregnant or lactating

  • 3,400mg/day for men 19 years and older

American women and men are not meeting those recommendations though, and instead are consuming on average about 2,600mg/day.

Consequences of Insufficient Potassium Intake

Low potassium intake can cause sodium retention and efflux of calcium from bone. Over time, these circumstances increase the risk for development of high blood pressure, insulin resistance, osteopenia and osteoporosis, and kidney stones.

Food Sources of Potassium

Fruits, vegetables, and animal proteins including dairy milk and yogurt are among the best natural sources of potassium.

High Potassium Foods: >500mg

  • Beet Greens (1 cup) - 1,300mg

  • Potato (1 medium) - 925mg

  • Lentils (1 cup cooked) – 730mg

  • Avocado (1 medium) - 690mg

  • Edamame (1 cup) - 675mg

  • Winter Squash (1 cup) - 580mg

  • Sweet Potato (1 medium) - 540mg

Medium Potassium Foods: 300-499

  • Salmon (3.5oz) – 470mg

  • Broccoli (1 cup cooked) – 440mg

  • Banana (1 medium) – 420mg

  • Pork Tenderloin (3.5oz roasted) – 420mg

  • Garbanzo Beans (1 cup) – 415mg

  • Tomatoes (1 medium, 1 cup whole cherry, 1 cup chopped) – 300-425mg

  • Asparagus (1 cup cooked) – 400mg

  • Yogurt (¾ -1 cup) – about 300mg

  • Carrots (1 cup) – 365mg

  • Chicken Breast (1 cup chopped) – 360mg

  • Milk (1 cup) – 360mg

  • Spinach, raw (2 cups) – 330mg

  • Hemp Hearts (3 Tbsp) – 330mg

  • Sirloin Beef (3.5oz) – 325mg

  • Oranges (1 cup) – 320mg

  • Red Sweet Peppers (1 cup, chopped) – 315mg

  • Sweet Cherries (1 cup) – 305mg

  • Kale (1 cup raw) – 300mg

  • Prunes (1 oz) – 300mg

Are you eating these foods and meeting your daily needs for dietary potassium every day?


The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website. If you're interested in making dietary changes, guidance from a nutrition expert is highly advised. Please review our Nutrition & Wellness Services here:

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