Potassium is a mineral in your cells. It helps your nerves and muscles work as they should. The right balance of potassium also keeps your heart beating at a steady rate.
A potassium level that is too high or too low can be dangerous. If your levels are high or low, you may need to change the way you eat.
You can control the amount of potassium you get in your diet by being aware of which foods are low or high in potassium.
When you choose foods from lists like the one below, note the serving size. Otherwise, it can be easy to get too much or too little potassium.
Food (no table salt added)
2 raw or 5 dry
Beans (lima, baked navy)
Beets, raw or cooked
Dried beans and peas
Fish (haddock, perch, salmon)
Milk (fat-free, low-fat, whole, buttermilk)
Nuts (almonds, cashew, hazelnuts, peanuts)
Potato chips, plain, salted
Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin)
Sweet potato, baked
Some foods and drinks may have hidden potassium. Certain herbal or dietary supplements may also have it. Diet or protein drinks and diet bars often have this mineral. It is also in sports drinks. These are meant to replace potassium you lose during exercise.
Food labels do not have to include the amount of potassium, but some do. Even if potassium is not listed, it may still be in that food.
If you're limiting your potassium, do not use a salt substitute or "lite" salt without talking to your doctor first. These often are very high in potassium.
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CitationsU.S. Department of Agriculture, et al. (2015). USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 28. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl. Accessed October 12, 2015.American Dietetic Association (2015). Potassium content of foods. Nutrition Care Manual. https://www.nutritioncaremanual.org/client_ed.cfm?ncm_client_ed_id=153&actionxm=ViewAll. Accessed September 10, 2015.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Current as ofMay 4, 2017
Current as of:
May 4, 2017
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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Last modified on: 8 September 2017