It is estimated that 80% of Americans eat too much sodium and salt. Food With No Potassium While there are a number of reasons for this, one of the most significant factors is that potassium intake is often inadequate. Potassium helps to regulate fluid balance in your body and keeps blood pressure at an optimal level by working with sodium.
Food With Less or No Potassium
The following table list foods which are low in potassium. A portion is ½ cup unless otherwise noted. Eating more than 1 portion can make a lower potassium food into a higher potassium food.
|Apple (1 medium)||Alfalfa sprouts||Rice|
|Apple Juice||Asparagus (6 spears raw)||Noodles|
|Applesauce||Beans, green or wax|
Broccoli (raw or cooked from frozen)
|Apricots, canned in juice||Cabbage, green and red|
|Bread and bread products (Not Whole Grains)|
|Blackberries||Cauliflower||Cake: angel, yellow|
|Blueberries||Celery (1 stalk)||Coffee: limit to 8 ounces|
|Cherries||Corn, fresh (½ ear) frozen (½ cup)||Pies without chocolate or high potassium fruit|
|Cranberries||Cucumber||Cookies without nuts or chocolate|
|Fruit Cocktail||Eggplant||Tea: limit to 16 ounces|
|Grapefruit (½ whole)||Mixed Vegetables|
|Mandarin Oranges||White Mushrooms, raw (½ cup)|
|Peaches, fresh (1 small)|
canned (½ cup)
|Pears, fresh (1 small)|
canned (½ cup)
|Plums (1 whole)||Radish|
|Strawberries||Water Chestnuts, canned|
|Tangerine (1 whole)||Watercress|
|Watermelon (limit to 1 cup)||Yellow Squash|
Low-Potassium Diet: What to Know
Every time you eat a banana or a baked potato with the skin on (not just the tasty buttered insides), you’re getting potassium. This essential mineral keeps your muscles healthy and your heartbeat and blood pressure steady.
If you have a heart or kidney condition, though, your doctor may recommend a low-potassium diet. Your kidneys are responsible for keeping a healthy amount of potassium in your body. If they’re not working right, you may get too much or too little.
If you have too much potassium in your blood, it can cause cardiac arrest — when your heart suddenly stops beating.
If you have too little potassium in your blood, it can cause an irregular heartbeat. Your muscles may also feel weak.
Most foods have potassium. To keep your levels low, avoid or eat less than a half-cup a day of these high-potassium foods:
- Dried fruit
- Honeydew melon
- Oranges and orange juice
- Pomegranate and pomegranate juice
- Prunes and prune juice
- Acorn squash, butternut squash, Hubbard squash
- Baked beans, black beans, refried beans
- Broccoli (cooked)
- Brussels sprouts
- Onions (fried)
- Potatoes (white and sweet)
- Spinach (cooked)
- Tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste
- Vegetable juice
Other high-potassium foods:
- Bran products
- Creamed soups
- French fries
- Ice cream
- Milk (buttermilk, chocolate, eggnog evaporated, malted, soy and milkshakes)
- Peanut butter
- Potato chips
- Salt substitutes
The list of high-potassium foods may feel a bit overwhelming, but remember, for every high-potassium food to avoid, there’s at least one low-potassium food to enjoy.
The recommended serving size for these low-potassium foods is 1/2 cup. You don’t want to overdo it. Too much of a low-potassium food makes it a high-potassium food.
- Apples (plus apple juice and applesauce)
- Fruit cocktail
- Grapes and grape juice
- Mandarin oranges
- Pineapple and pineapple juice
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Asparagus (6 raw spears)
- Broccoli (raw or cooked from frozen)
- Carrots (cooked)
- Celery (1 stalk)
- Corn (half an ear if it’s on the cob)
- Green beans or wax beans
- White mushrooms (raw)
People with chronic kidney disease need to limit the amount of potassium they consume because their kidneys cannot process potassium properly, causing it to build up in the blood.Medications used to treat kidney disease can also raise potassium levels. One the best ways to manage potassium levels is by making dietary changes. This may mean avoiding high-potassium foods and replacing them with low-potassium alternatives.
According to a report published in Medical News Today, people with chronic kidney disease or CKD should avoid or limit foods that are high in potassium.High-potassium levels can cause serious symptoms, including an irregular heartbeat and muscle cramping. Low-potassium levels can cause muscles to become weak.
A doctor or dietitian can help explain the right amount of potassium to consume for each person’s unique situation.Some high-potassium foods that people with CKD should limit or avoid include: nuts; beans and legumes; potatoes; bananas; most dairy products; avocados; salty foods; fast foods; processed meats, such as luncheon meats and hot dogs; bran and whole grains; spinach; cantaloupe and honeydew; tomatoes; and vegetable juices.
Dietary restrictions can help prevent further damage to the kidneys in those with CKD.Apples are a popular low-potassium snack. Low-potassium foods are a safer option for people with CKD. According to the American Kidney Foundation, a potassium-restricted diet allows for 2,000 milligrams of potassium daily.
However, a doctor or dietitian is in the best position to advise a person on their individual needs.There are plenty of foods that are low in potassium. For these foods, a half cup is the recommended serving size.
Eating more than one serving can turn a low potassium option into a high potassium snack, so it is essential to stay within the recommended guidelines.Low-potassium foods include: apples, apple juice, and applesauce; most berries, including blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries; grapes and grape juice; pineapple and pineapple juice; watermelon; asparagus; broccoli; carrots; kale; cabbage; cucumbers; white rice, noodles, and bread (not whole grain); and zucchini and yellow squash.
People should not cut out potassium entirely, as it is an essential nutrient that helps manage many of the body’s functions. Potassium has many essential roles in the body, including: helping the muscles contract; maintaining electrolyte balance; regulating blood pressure; keeping the heart functioning correctly; aiding in waste removal; promoting cell growth and health; delivering oxygen to the brain; and stabilizing the metabolic process.
Potassium is an essential mineral that is needed by all tissues in the body. It is sometimes referred to as an electrolyte because it carries a small electrical charge that activates various cell and nerve functions. Potassium is found naturally in many foods and as a supplement. Its main role in the body is to help maintain normal levels of fluid inside our cells. Sodium, its counterpart, maintains normal fluid levels outside of cells. Potassium also helps muscles to contract and supports normal blood pressure.
The U.S. Dietary Reference Intakes state that there is not enough evidence to establish a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for potassium. However, the National Academy of Medicine has established an Adequate Intake (AI) for potassium.
- For women 14-18 years of age, the AI is 2,300 mg daily; for women 19+, 2,600 mg. For pregnant and lactating women, the AI ranges from 2,500-2,900 depending on age.
- For men 14-18 years of age, the AI is 3,000 mg; for men 19+, 3,400 mg.
It is estimated that the average daily intake of potassium in adults is about 2,320 mg for women and 3,016 mg for men.
Potassium and Health
The functions of sodium and potassium in the body are closely related and often studied together.
The interplay of potassium and sodium
Potassium and sodium are closely interconnected but have opposite effects in the body. Both are essential nutrients that play key roles in maintaining physiological balance, and both have been linked to the risk of chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. High salt intake increases blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, while high potassium intake can help relax blood vessels and excrete sodium while decreasing blood pressure. Our bodies need far more potassium than sodium each day, but the typical U.S. diet is just the opposite: Americans average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, about 75% of which comes from processed foods, while only getting about 2,900 milligrams of potassium each day.
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that:
- People who ate high-sodium, low-potassium diets had a higher risk of dying from a heart attack or any cause. In this study, people with the highest sodium intakes had a 20% higher risk of death from any cause than people with the lowest sodium intakes. People with the highest potassium intakes had a 20% lower risk of dying than people with the lowest intakes. But what may be even more important for health is the relationship of sodium to potassium in the diet. People with the highest ratio of sodium to potassium in their diets had double the risk of dying of a heart attack than people with the lowest ratio, and they had a 50% higher risk of death from any cause.
- People can make a key dietary change to help lower their risk: Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, which are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium, but eat less bread, cheese, processed meat, and other processed foods that are high in sodium and low in potassium.
Is there any research behind Acid-Alkaline Diet claims?
You may have heard of an acid-alkaline diet promoted for weight loss or cancer prevention. It became popular when authors claimed that eating certain “alkaline” foods could counterbalance the effects of a high “acidic” diet that might otherwise lead to various chronic diseases. Most health experts rejected these claims because it is nearly impossible to dramatically change the pH of blood in healthy people through diet alone. The body tightly regulates the pH level in blood to about 7.4, because swinging to either extreme of too acid or alkaline can be life-threatening.
However, there is some truth that the metabolism of certain foods can create bicarbonates, which neutralizes acids in the body. Potassium-rich foods that have an alkalizing effect include fruits, vegetables, almonds, and lentils. One theory suggests that a long-term high intake of protein foods such as meats, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs, as well as cereal grains may create a condition called low-grade metabolic acidosis due to their high sulfate and phosphate content. This occurs particularly if the diet does not contain enough counterbalancing potassium-rich foods. The condition is sometimes referred to as the ‘‘acid-ash hypothesis,’’ which may cause a very slight drop in blood pH, though still falling within a normal range. Theories suggest that even a small change such as this may increase one’s risk of developing conditions like kidney stones and bone loss.
BOTTOM LINE: Although theories in this area are compelling, the evidence is still inconsistent and it has not been shown in controlled trials that diet can significantly change blood pH in healthy people. Therefore it is too early to make specific recommendations based on this theory.
Potassium is widely available in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens, beans, nuts, dairy foods, and starchy vegetables like winter squash are rich sources.
- Dried fruits (raisins, apricots)
- Beans, lentils
- Winter squash (acorn, butternut)
- Spinach, broccoli
- Beet greens
- Oranges, orange juice
- Coconut water
- Dairy and plant milks (soy, almond)
- Cashews, almonds
Signs of Deficiency and Toxicity
The kidneys work to maintain normal blood levels of potassium by flushing out excess amounts through urine. Potassium can also be lost through stool and sweat. At least 400-800 mg daily from food is needed because of normal daily losses. Any conditions that increase fluid losses beyond normal such as vomiting, diarrhea, and certain medications like diuretics can lead to a deficiency, called hypokalemia. Hypokalemia is most common in hospitalized patients who are taking medications that cause the body to excrete too much potassium. It is also seen in people with inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis) that may cause diarrhea and malabsorption of nutrients.
It is rare for a potassium deficiency to be caused by too low a food intake alone because it is found in so many foods; however an inadequate intake combined with heavy sweating, diuretic use, laxative abuse, or severe nausea and vomiting can quickly lead to hypokalemia. Another reason is a deficiency of magnesium, as the kidneys need magnesium to help reabsorb potassium and maintain normal levels in cells.
- Muscle cramps or weakness
- Muscle paralysis and irregular heart rate (with severe hypokalemia)
Too much potassium in the blood is called hyperkalemia. In healthy people the kidneys will efficiently remove extra potassium, mainly through the urine. However, certain situations can lead to hyperkalemia: advanced kidney disease, taking medications that hold onto potassium in the body (including NSAIDs), or people who have compromised kidneys who eat a high-potassium diet (more than 4,700 mg daily) or use potassium-based salt substitutes. Symptoms of hyperkalemia:
- Weakness, fatigue
- Nausea, vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations, irregular heart rate
Did You Know?
- The chemical symbol for potassium is “K,” not to be confused with vitamin K.
- Salt substitutes are sometimes made from potassium chloride, which replaces some or all of the sodium chloride in table salt. Although those on salt-restricted diets may benefit from its much lower sodium content, potassium salt has a bitter aftertaste when heated so it is not recommended for cooking. Check with your doctor before trying a potassium salt, because extra potassium can be dangerous for people who have trouble eliminating excess amounts or who are taking medications that can increase potassium levels in the bloodstream.
15 Foods That Are High in Potassium
Potassium is an essential mineral, necessary for your body to function. It is an electrolyte, which means it has a small electrical charge that helps activate your heart, kidneys, muscles and nerves.Here is an overview of what you need to know about potassium, and some high potassium food choices to make sure you get enough in your diet.
How potassium works and why your body needs it
Potassium is a workhorse when it comes to keeping you going. It helps regulate the electrical signals that control your heartbeat, trigger your muscles to contract, and activate your nerve cells.
Potassium helps deliver nutrients to your cells and remove waste products. It is also involved in maintaining the volume of blood and fluid in your body, which affects your blood pressure.
The daily recommended intake of potassium includes:
- 3,400 milligrams (mg) for adult males
- 2,600 mg for adult females
- 200–300 mg more potassium during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Potassium is found in many foods, but some of it can be lost during cooking. Many U.S. adults don’t get enough potassium in their diet, falling short by as much as 1000 mg a day.
Here is a list of some high potassium foods, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes foods with over 200 mg of potassium per serving. Consider adding some of these foods to your diet if your potassium intake is low or your blood potassium level is too low:
Potatoes are a great source of potassium. A baked potato contains 925 mg of potassium. French fried potatoes have 470 mg of potassium in a 3 oz serving, along with plenty of fat and calories. An ounce of potato chips provides 465 mg of potassium.
2. Yams and sweet potatoes
Yams are a potassium superfood, with about 911 mg per cup. Sweet potatoes are different from yams and not related to what we usually consider potatoes. They are also a good source, with about 572 mg of potassium per cup.
Both yams and sweet potatoes are root vegetables. Yams are browner, bigger, and part of the lily family. Sweet potatoes are redder and in the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes do indeed tend to be sweeter than yams.
Many people think of bananas when they think of potassium-rich food. A medium banana has about 422 mg of potassium. Bananas are a popular fruit for athletes. They are an easy and quick way to replenish the potassium the body loses during intense exertion.
4. Yogurt and dairy products
Yogurt is the best source of potassium in the dairy aisle, with about 625 mg in an 8 oz serving of plain, nonfat yogurt. An 8 oz glass of whole cow’s milk provides 366 mg of potassium, even if it’s low fat milk.
Some cheeses, including ricotta and cottage cheese, are high in potassium. Not all cheeses are created equal though — goat cheese is a low potassium food.
A 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream has about 131 mg of potassium.
5. Oranges and orange juice
One orange contains 240 mg of potassium, so it counts as a high potassium food. However, orange juice is a more concentrated source of potassium, with 450 mg per 8 oz glass.
Not all fruits are high in potassium. Apples, for instance, don’t contain much potassium and berries are not a good source either. On the other hand, dried fruits like prunes and raisins are good sources of potassium. Fresh cantaloupe is also high in potassium.
6. Legumes and beans
Many vegans and vegetarians rely on legumes like lentils, lima, navy, and kidney beans to get the protein they need. Legumes also provide a good amount of potassium.
White beans are the highest in potassium, with 600 mg in a half cup. Other legumes like lima beans, pinto beans, navy beans and lentils contain about 300 to 350 mg in a half cup serving.
7. Winter squash
Winter squash with dark orange flesh, such as acorn squash, contains a good amount of potassium. They provide almost 900 mg of potassium per cup. Butternut squash has about 600 mg, which is still high. Yellow squash and zucchini, by contrast, are low potassium foods.
8. Spinach and other leafy greens
Just a half cup of cooked spinach contains about 420 mg of potassium. Whether baby or mature, raw spinach has about 167 mg per cup. Swiss chard, bok choy, beet greens, and fennel are also high in potassium.
Kale, while full of other nutrients, contains less potassium than these other dark leafy greens. Raw kale has about 73 mg per cup.
9. Salt substitutes
Many people with kidney or heart disease use salt substitutes to cut down on the amount of sodium in their diets. These substitutes contain potassium chloride. What they lack in sodium they make up for in potassium, with 800 mg per 1/4 teaspoon.
10. Tomato paste
If you are making pasta sauce or chili, tomato paste is a great way to increase the potassium in your diet. 1 cup contains 1220 mg. Even if your dish contains about a quarter cup of tomato paste, you are still getting more than 300 mg in a serving.
Avocados are an excellent way to add potassium to your diet. 1 cup of sliced avocado contains 708 mg of potassium. A medium-sized whole avocado has about 1000 mg.
12. Bamboo shoots
If you like traditional Asian dishes, add some bamboo shoots to boost your potassium intake. A half cup has about 400 mg of potassium. Another common ingredient in some Asian dishes are water chestnuts. They have about 360 mg of potassium.
13. Fufu and beet greens
Fufu is a typical West African or Caribbean dish made of pounded yams, plantains, or cassava. These starches are all very high in potassium. A cup of fufu, which is usually served as a ball and dipped in a sauce, can contain over 1000 mg of potassium.
Beet greens are another food with more than 1000 mg of potassium per serving. They contain about 1309 mg per cup.
14. Clams and tuna
When it comes to protein from seafood, clams are the best source of potassium with 534 mg in just 3 oz. If you are not a fan of clams, skipjack tuna has 444 mg in 3 oz. Salmon, one of the most popular fish, is often lower in potassium. However this varies depending on the type.
15. Chicken and beef
These proteins are considered high in potassium, though there are more efficient ways to get enough potassium in your diet. A 3 oz serving of chicken breast has an estimated 332 mg of potassium. Beef, while popular, has just under 300 mg per serving.
What to know about sport drinks
Some sports drinks are marketed as being formulated to replenish electrolytes, including potassium. However, a typical 12 oz bottle of sports drink contains less than 50 mg of potassium. Make sure you stay informed and read labels. There may be better options to manage potassium levels.
Can too much potassium be harmful?
Potassium keeps our bodies functioning, but too much potassium can be harmful.
People with healthy kidneys will eliminate excess potassium through urination.
People with kidney disease or another chronic disease like diabetes, liver, or heart disease may not be able to get rid of excess potassium. Certain medications such as ACE inhibitors, which are used to lower blood pressure or treat heart ailments, can also affect potassium levels.
A blood potassium level higher than 5.0 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) is usually considered high. However, different labs use slightly different measures.
Potassium over 6.0 mmol/L is considered hyperkalemia and needs immediate medical attention. Some cases may require emergency treatment. Hyperkalemia can leave you short of breath, cause your heart to beat irregularly, and even lead to a heart attack.
Tips for reducing potassium in your diet
Here are some ways you can lower your potassium levels:
- Replace potatoes with starches like white bread, pasta, or white rice.
- Eat low potassium fruits like apples, berries, and grapes.
- Drink water instead of fluids that contain potassium, such as sports drinks.
- Limit your coffee intake, which can add up to 116 mg of potassium per cup.
- Try cranberry juice instead of orange juice.
- Avoid dishes made with pumpkin, such as pie and bread.
- Eat yellow squash and zucchini rather than sweet potatoes, yams, or winter squashes.
- Use romaine, butter, or iceberg lettuce in place of darker greens like spinach, Swiss chard, or beet greens.
Talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet. They may offer specific recommendations to help safely manage your potassium levels.
Potassium is an essential mineral that supports many of your vital functions. Many people in the U.S. don’t get enough potassium in their diets. Too much potassium can seriously affect the heart in people with certain chronic conditions. These include kidney disease or people on certain medications.
If your doctor finds your potassium is too low, eating certain foods can help to raise your levels. Foods high in potassium include potatoes, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and bananas, among others.
If your potassium level is too high, swap high-potassium foods for lower-potassium alternatives. Substitute white foods like rice and pasta for root vegetables, and stick to fruits like apples and berries. Use light green lettuces for salads instead of spinach or kale. Follow your doctor’s advice for maintaining a healthy potassium level.