10 Best Sources of Potassium Reviewed
While there’s more food options available on the market than ever before, plenty of people still struggle to get enough nutritional value out of their diets. Potassium in particular is lacking among Americans, with less than 2% of adults in the United States getting the recommended amount of daily potassium. Low-potassium intake can make us vulnerable to things like hypertension and hypokalemia, as well as put us at higher risk for strokes. The truth is, a good portion of runners probably also fall into that category and could use a change of focus when it comes to dietary needs.
Luckily, there are plenty of easy to find foods you can stock up on that are rich in potassium and taste great that will get you back on track–figuratively and literally! We’ve compiled a list of these best sources of potassium just for you, along with the reasons we’ve included them, helpful advice, and FAQs so you can get the most out of your meals.
10 Best Sources of Potassium
A great source of vitamin A and B vitamins, the 950 mg of potassium per cup is almost just a nice bonus. Another great energy providing food that may lead you to ditch your granola bars in favor of whole foods.
Taste and Practicality
They are called sweet potatoes for a reason. The best of both sweet and potato worlds they can be made into fries, put in a stir fry or just eaten whole. They are easy to prepare and taste great.
A bit pricier then other varieties of potatoes, they also contain many nutrients that make the price difference reasonable. If you are on a tight budget though consider russet potatoes as an alternative.
Each serving of tomato paste (6oz) has over 1,700 mg of potassium. That may sound like a lot, but typically recipes use maybe one or two ounces of tomato paste. Still, if you use it to cook frequently it can become a great source of not only potassium but fiber, protein, and vitamins.
Taste and Practicality
It’s pretty basic, but tomato paste can easily add a hearty flavor and some volume to many dishes. You can thicken up some basic spaghetti, flavor a chili, bulk up a soup, or fill out a sauce by adding tomato paste. There are also lots of ways to store or save tomato paste. It doesn’t take a ton of preparation or skill to use, but it can’t really be eaten by itself either.
A can of tomato paste can cost less than a dollar and is easy to find in most grocery or dollar stores. It’s super versatile and can help pad out a huge variety of recipes, making it an inexpensive and valuable source of potassium.
For every half cup of white beans you’ll be getting 595mg of potassium. These are also a great source of fiber and protein, especially if you’re on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Taste and Practicality
Since “white beans” covers so many different types of beans there are just as many different flavors and shapes to choose from. Marrow beans are a good filler for soups because of their rich, bacon-like taste, while kidney beans are tender and make good additions to salads. The ways to prepare white beans are absolutely endless: you can eat them hot, cold, mashed, stewed, pureed, boiled, fried…. You get the idea.
The cost of white beans varies depending on the type of bean and whether they are dried or canned, but they are generally pretty affordable. You could easily find them at most grocery or dollar stores, and depending on where you shop you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. These are a must have for your pantry at home and are a great nutritional choice.
With 465mg of potassium and many other vitamins and minerals, spinach is a low calorie food that has a place in everyone’s diet.
Not everyone will like spinach but throw it in a smoothie with some banana and you will forget it is there and still get the benefit of the added minerals and phytochemicals.
Cost or Value
Buying an extra bag of spinach every week isn’t going to send anyone to the poor house and is extremely nutrient dense.
Halibut has the most potassium content with about 3oz having nearly 500mg of potassium. All of the other fish listed have at least 375mg of potassium per 3oz. This really adds up when you consider that one serving of uncooked fish is about 8oz! Plus fish has nutrients like omega-3, vitamin D, and can be very beneficial for your health.
Taste and Practicality
The fish we’ve listed all have different qualities and taste and can be prepared in plenty of different ways. They can be bought fresh, frozen, or canned and are great as dinner entrees or as a way to pad out a quick lunch.
Because of the variety of different ways fish can be bought, this is a really diverse food when it comes to cost. Yellowfin tuna can cost less than 2$ per can while a package of frozen cod can be as low as 5$. Most grocery stores carry canned fish and many have departments that will offer fresh fish. Fish is a very versatile and valuable option for those trying to get more potassium in their diet.
One cup of beets is 442mg of potassium is nice but the beets real advantage for runners are the presence of nitrates which improve blood flow in the body and can directly improve cardiovascular endurance. Consider adding beets to your pre-race meal.
Taste and Practicality
Beets can be a bit of a mess in the kitchen, but they're versatile. They can even be microwaved!
Not the cheapest food on this list, but if the nitrate performance enhancing benefits beets offer is worth it to you, then they are worth trying.
Very low in calories and high in many important nutrients Broccoli requires some cooking experience in order to prepare properly
288mg of potassium per cup is nothing to scoff at, but remember broccoli is also a great source of vitamin c, fiber, and many b vitamins that are important for energy metabolism.
Taste and Practicality
When eaten raw, broccoli isn’t very palatable and is very bitter, but when it is properly cooked or included in a stir fry, it can be delicious. It does require more preparation then a banana, but it is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.
Brocolli is very inexpensive and like everything on this list, you can even order it on Amazon and have it shipped directly to you.
Very low in calories and high in many important nutrients
Broccoli requires some cooking experience in order to prepare properly
With 240 mg of potassium and 17 grams of protein, Greek Yogurt isn’t the most potassium rich food on this list, but it is the only one that has probiotics which support digestive health.
Taste and Practicality
Greek Yogurt requires no preparation and and is very easily digested by your body. It is a great option for runners who want to include it in their smoothie before their morning run. Some people may not like the taste but to others it can be as enjoyable as eating ice cream!
Although more expensive than regular yogurt, Greek Yogurt is a very nutrient dense and practical way to get more potassium in your diet.
Just one banana has 422mg of potassium. It is an excellent source of quickly digesting carbohydrates that will give you the energy you need to train.
Taste and Practicality
Nothing is more practical than a banana. Throw one in your gym bag and enjoy the sweet wholesome taste instead of the candy bar you have been taking to work
Sometimes referred to as the "poor man’s fruit", bananas are an unbeatable value
One cup of skim milk has 382mg of potassium. It also contains calcium and plenty of protein.
Taste and Practicality
There’s a reason milk is a basic grocery staple that disappears when blizzards roll into town. It is an extremely practical and basic food that is extremely practical. Some may complain about the taste of skim milk higher fat milks are also good sources of potassium.
Also available on Amazon, milk is inexpensive and easy to get a hold of.
Our Criteria and Rank for the Best Sources of Potassium for Runners
These foods are rated based on their potassium content and how practical they are to incorporate into your diet. Keep in mind that high potassium diets are not for everyone and you should consult with a dietitian or a doctor before making any drastic changes in your diet.
No matter what foods you choose to include in your diet, be sure to include a variety of foods. Potassium is important for everyone’s health and not just runners, and there are many more sources that are not on this list. Just remember, if it grew out of the ground and is not packaged or processed, then it will have potassium.
Potassium is key to a healthy diet as well and absolutely imperative to maintaining a properly functioning body. Without potassium, our muscles become easily fatigued, our hearts won’t regulate our blood pressure as well, and our nervous system doesn’t recover as easily. Most of our body’s potassium is stored in our cells and is critical to how they function. The fastest and best way to replenish potassium stores and maintain a healthy balance in our bodies is through a well balanced diet full of foods like the ones included on our list. Keep in mind that high potassium diets are not for everyone and you should consult with a dietitian or a doctor before making any drastic changes in your diet.
Overall Potassium Content and Nutrition
Our list primarily focuses on foods that had the highest percentage of your daily potassium needs in each serving. For a food to be considered an “excellent source” of nutrients it must meet 10 to 15% of your daily nutritional needs. Each of the foods on the list is at least considered a “good source” of potassium, while some of them meet the 20% value set by DV per RACC standards (Daily Value per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed standards). Knowing how to read your food labels can help you better understand what you’re eating and if you’re getting adequate nutrients.
Aside from just being an adequate source of potassium, we wanted to take into consideration that the nutritional content of the foods on our list should be beneficial for runners and athletes specifically. Most of the foods on our list were chosen because they have other nutritional value besides potassium. Protein rich foods will help your muscles recover quicker and will combat some of the hunger that comes with tough training. Other nutrients like fats can help with hormone functioning which can be important for runners who might be more prone to stress fractures or amenorrhea, for protecting the body’s internal organs, for fighting fatigue and poor mental functioning, and for stronger nails and shiny hair. Additional vitamins and minerals in leafy greens and animal products will help the body put the nutrients to good use and help with muscle contraction and relaxation. These can include iron, magnesium, calcium, sodium choride, and vitamins D, C, B, and E. Fiber is great for runners as well, with water soluble fiber in fruits and veggies like the ones on our list keeping cholesterol low and controlling blood-sugar levels (which is crucial in helping keep you from bonking out early on your run!). Insoluble fibers like the ones found in whole grains help with digestive health.
Taste and Practicality
As runners, we put our bodies and our minds through a lot. We take care to enrich our lives the best we can, managing to balance work, family, social lives, and workouts each day. Trying to balance our diets shouldn’t feel like a chore on top of everything else we do, so we tried to choose foods that are easy and versatile when it comes to preparation, and that fill a spectrum of great tastes.
Some of the sweeter options like bananas and Greek yogurt can work great as a snack, a sweet balance to your salty dish, or even as a dessert. Other foods that make the list can easily be sweetened up if that’s more your style — try adding a mix of cinnamon sugar to your sweet potatoes (and if you are really in a festive mood throw a couple of marshmallows on top). Other foods that made our list are best served savory or blend well with any meal plans you might have. Tomato paste is a high-potassium food that is easy to incorporate into lots of recipes and veggies like spinach and broccoli make great sides. You can even eat the veggies and some of the other options on our list without any preparation, making for great snacks and to-go foods that you can pack in your meal prep bag.
Most of the foods on our list are fairly cheap, though some might be a bit pricier depending on where you live and where you grocery shop. For example, bananas are known as the “poor man’s fruit” because of how economical they are – a whole pound will cost you just cents, so buying them can go a long way (though they do ripen and subsequently spoil rather quickly). However, the value of a food goes beyond just price.
Value is added to foods that can be prepared using a variety of cooking methods. Overall, you will end up getting more for your money if you can buy a couple bushels, packages, or servings of a food and have the option to bake them, roast or toast them, stew them, grill them, sauté them, or treat yourself to some pan or deep fried deliciousness for a special occasion! Variety is key to adding value, so the more meals and snack options a food can be used in, the better. Value is also added if a food is raised, caught, or grown in a particular way – think fresh, local, and even organically raised fruits and veggies. In some instances, this might raise the price, but adds to the overall healthful value of the food.
Other Important Factors to Consider
Where You Live and Accessibility
They say it’s all about location, and this applies to food accessibility as well. Finding foods on our list might be more difficult depending on where you live, how fresh the food in your area is, and how expensive it is to grocery shop there. Some people struggle with finding affordable food because of food deserts and not everyone can afford foods that aren’t processed. We tried to include foods on our list that can be purchased canned or frozen for cheap.
Potassium deficiency is a serious issue, especially for runners and athletes. More formally known as “hypokalemia,” potassium deficiency is often characterized by a lack of energy and general fatigue or weakness, muscle cramps, constipation, and an irregular heartbeat. These symptoms are generally seen in those who have potassium levels around 3 – 3.5 mmol/L. It’s important to be aware of your potassium levels so that if you have a deficiency you are changing your diet with the help of your doctor to include potassium-rich foods like the ones on our list, as well as choosing supplements that are right for you if necessary. It’s also important to be aware of your potassium levels so that if you have too much potassium you’re not overloading on something your body doesn’t need!
Special Diets and Food Allergies
The foods on our list can all be classified as being apart of a healthy diet – all provide multiple nutritional benefits and can easily fit into most specialty diets, including Whole 30, the Paleo diet, ketogenic diets, etc. Most are fruits and vegetables, or animal sources, and fit well into a holistically health lifestyle. If you’re worried about getting adequate potassium in on one of these diets, don’t be!
We also tried to choose foods that had less risk of common food allergy issues, but if you are unaware of any food allergies you might have, we encourage you to go get tested.
Risk of Kidney Stones
The kidneys are the body’s main organ when it comes to controlling potassium levels in the blood, and serve to remove excess potassium through urinary excretion when levels get too high. However, potassium (specifically potassium citrate) plays a key role in helping break down deposits of calcium that build up in the kidneys, often leading to painful kidney stones. If you have a personal or family history of developing kidney stones, upping your potassium intake might help circulate out some of that excess calcium.
Q: What exactly is potassium?
A: Technically, potassium falls into two categories: it is both a mineral consumed through foods and an electrolyte produced within the body. Electrolytes are positively charged ions that help regulate several bodily functions including blood pressure, digestion, heart rate and normal heart functioning, muscle contractions, and functions of the nervous system. Other common electrolytes include sodium, chloride, magnesium, bicarbonate, and calcium. For athletes, electrolytes play a critical role in supplying oxygen to the blood, and thus to the muscles (which ultimately provides energy for the body to run, jump, lift weights, etc. off of).
Q: What is an electrolyte imbalance?
A: An electrolyte imbalance is when one of the types of electrolytes present in the body’s blood cells are either too high or too low. When this happens, the individual may experience a number of symptoms, including an irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness or general fatigue, notable changes in blood pressure, and problems within the nervous system
Q: What are some of the benefits of consuming potassium?
A: Potassium offers many health benefits. Some of these include stimulate cognitive and neural activity and increasing overall brain functioning and awareness, stabilizing blood sugar (which is especially important for those with diabetes), reducing muscle disorders and helping muscle contractions and reactions to quicken and become more efficient, enhancing bone health by helping the body’s absorption of calcium, aiding in protein synthesis which may ultimately build muscle and boost the metabolism, regulate water and fluid levels, and regulating hormones which ultimately may lead to decreased stress and anxiety.
Q: What are the runner-ups? What other foods might be good sources of potassium?
A: Following a similar trend that already exists within our list, dark and leafy greens tend to be high in potassium so some other options not listed here are Swiss chard and Bok choy. Legumes are also excellent sources of potassium: Lima beans, soybeans, and pinto beans just to name a few. Regular potatoes are also known for their potassium levels.
Q: Can you have too MUCH potassium in your blood?
A: Yes. Having too much potassium in your blood is a condition known as hyperkalemia. This typically occurs when the kidneys, the main organ for regulating potassium levels, are not properly removing excess potassium out of the body. This is mostly caused by medications that have this effect on the kidneys, and include drugs like diuretics, some blood pressure medications, and antibiotics (in particular, penicillin). When potassium remains in the kidneys, the symptoms can be serious. The symptom of highest concern is a dangerous change in heart rhythm. If you experience symptoms of possible hyperkalemia due to complications with your medicine, stop the use of the drug immediately and talk to your doctor.
Here are a bunch of sources that we used while we conducted our research:
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