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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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« Supporting the Spleen with Chinese Nutrition Therapy | Main | Red Marionette giveaway winners! »
Wednesday
Nov172010

Beyond Bananas: High Potassium Foods

Need potassium? How about some beet greens?

I recently had a conversation with my brother about an unfortunate leg cramping incident he experienced while completing the physical agility test for the fire fighter position he is applying for. One factor he blamed was a lack of potassium, since he forgot his banana at home that morning.  Bummer! BANANA FAIL. 

I understood the dilemma caused by a missing banana. In fact, I've been having wild banana cravings (highly unusual for me), which I attribute to my body telling me I have a potassium deficiency from all these antibiotics I've been taking. Since I'm just a wee bit allergic to bananas and am also sensitive to sugar, I can't eat a whole load of them. So, I've been researching other high potassium foods, and have been alarmed to discover that there are loads of foods that pack a mean potassium punch!  I've been hitting the potassium pretty hard the last few weeks, and feel less banana-cravy now.

After his hearing his tale and falling back on my experience,I replied with the following: "Dude, there are lots of foods higher in potassium than bananas."  Then I insisted on sending him a potassium-packed care package, which will be going in the mail tomorrow. 

Know-it-all big sisters like me must be such a pain in the a**. 

Why Potassium Rocks

Potassium is important.  According to The World's Healthiest Foods, potassium helps your muscles and nerves do their job, and can help lower your risk of high blood pressure. Potassium and sodium work hand-in-hand to regulate proper electrolyte and acid-base levels, which is key in maintaining proper heart health. Potassium deficiency can occur with long-term antibiotic use (like with long-term treatment for Lyme Disease or other chronic infections).  Individuals that take part in intense exercise regimens require a lot of potassium, as do many individuals that suffer from chronic diarrhea, heart problems, fatigue, muscle weakness, or require the frequent use of diuretics. Additionally, if you feel confused, irritable, or spacey, you may just need a shot of potassium!  One more cool fact: eating ample quantities of potassium allows for better absorption and retention of calcium.  

Thankfully, those who need to increase their potassium can find adequate potassium in certain foods; in most cases, additional dietary supplements are not needed. 

High Potassium Foods

Here is a list of foods that contain a high amount of potassium. Measurement of potassium in milligrams and the quantity of food is listed. 

Daily Recommended Potassium (K): 3,500-4,700 mg  Too much: 18,000 mg

  • 1,309 mg - Beet Greens (1 cup)
  • 1,189 mg - White Beans (1 cup)
  • 1,081 mg - Baked Potato with skin (1 medium)
  • 960 mg - Swiss Chard (1 cup, cooked)
  • 955 mg - Lima Beans (1 cup)
  • 896 mg - Winter Squash, ecooked (1 cup)
  • 886 mg - Soybeans, cooked (1 cup)
  • 839 mg - Spinach (1 cup)
  • 814 mg - Dried Apricots (10)
  • 784 mg - Kelp (Kombu) seaweed (7 grams)
  • 731 mg - Lentils (1 cup)
  • 713 mg - Kidney Beans (1 cup)
  • 709 mg - Split Peas, cooked (1 cup)
  • 707 mg - Prune juice (1 cup)
  • 690 mg - Black Eyed Peas (1 cup)
  • 689 mg - Carrot juice (1 cup)
  • 653 mg - Halibut, baked or broiled (4 oz)
  • 645 mg - Yellowfin Tuna, baked or broiled (4 oz)
  • 644 mg - Jerusalem Artichokes (1 cup)
  • 635 mg - Crimini Mushrooms (5 oz)
  • 595 mg - Artichoke (1 cup)
  • 591 mg - Snapper, baked or broiled (4 oz)
  • 586 mg - Cod, baked or broiled (4 oz)
  • 573 mg - Parsnips (1 cup)
  • 547 mg - Dulse seaweed (7 grams, about 1/3 cup)
  • 544 mg - Raisins (1/2 cup)
  • 542 mg - Dates (10)
  • 542 mg - Figs, dried or fresh (4)
  • 540 mg - Avocado (3 oz)
  • 535 mg - Alaria seaweed (7 grams)
  • 531 mg - Yogurt (cow or goat, not non-dairy varieties) (8 oz)
  • 518 mg - Beets (1 cup cooked)
  • 508 mg - Sweet Potatoes (1 medium, with skin)
  • 504 mg - Brussels Sprouts (1 cup)
  • 498 mg - Molasses (1 Tbsp)
  • 494 mg - Melon/cantaloupe (1 cup)
  • 477 mg - Chickpeas/Garbanzos (1 cup)
  • 467 mg - Bananas (1 medium)
  • 456 mg - Broccoli (1 cup)

Other foods that are very good and good sources of potassium include romaine lettuce, celery, fennel, mustard greens, tomatoes, turnip greens, collard greens, summer squash, eggplant, green beans, kale, carrots, turmeric, asparagus, papaya, bell peppers, ginger root, strawberries, onions, watermelon, cabbage, prunes, raspberries, scallops, and grapes.  

parsnips and broccoli pack a potassium punch!

Easy Ways to Pack in the Potassium

  • Add yogurt, banana, melon, or avocado to your smoothies. Avocado, melon, and banana can be sliced and frozen, and add a wonderful creamy consistency and cold temperature once blended.
  • Add sliced roasted or raw grated beets, sliced avocado, or beans or lentils to salads.
  • Get a mixture of greens in your salads - romaine, spinach, or finely chopped dark leafy greens
  • Add molasses to tea or coffee, or mix half-n-half with maple syrup or agave nectar to use on pancakes.
  • Make a big batch of hummus to use through the week with raw veggies, on sandwiches, or with salads.
  • Snack on dried apricots, figs, dates, or raisins mixed with raw nuts or seeds for a healthy balanced treat on-the-go.
  • Forgo starchy sides of rice or quinoa for a side of roasted parsnips, baked winter squash, or roasted jerusalem artichoke
  • Afternoon tummy grumbles? How about snacking on a baked sweet potato or regular potato? You can bake them in advance, or cheat and bake in the microwave in a matter of minutes (if you use a microwave).
  • Whip up a batch of sauteed greens to eat with dinner - they go with anything!  Beet greens can be prepared just like sauteed spinach, chard, kale, or other dark leafies.
  • Add greens to soups and stews. 
  • Use mashed banana in place of eggs in baking.
  • Add dulse to salads, sauteed vegetables, or pan toast it and eat as a snack. (other dulse recipe ideas here)
  • Add kelp/kombu to the pot when cooking beans or when making soup stock. (other kombu recipes here)
  • Use alaria in miso soup or other soups - it is the perfect soup seaweed (alaria recipe ideas here)

 my Second Summer Soup with Pistou is loaded with Potassium

spinach and dandelion greens with pinenuts is full of the good stuff. 

Potassium-Packed Recipes

Here is a selection of a few of my highest-potassium recipes that are easy to make and totally delicious. 

I also have some awesome potassium-packed recipes in my recently published A Year to Eat Freely: 2011 Allergy-Friendly Recipe Calendar. TAsty dishes like Sweet Potato Felafel, No-Bake Sweet Potato Pie, Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts and Apples with Seed Brittle, Second Summer Soup with Pistou, and more!  Did I mention the No-Bake Sweet Potato Pie?  Just look at all this mouth-watering potassium...

 

No-Bake Sweet Potato Pie is a delicious way to load up on potassium. And you can only get the recipe from my recipe calendar!

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (6)

Thank you for posting this Kim!
I have a friend in France who's been struggling with his body's potassium levels for years.
I read that apple cider vinegar is alaso a good source of potassium (I have a few books on the topic).

November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlchemille

Yum yum and more yum! I love finding out more sources for different nutrients that I may not have heard of. Beet greens - who knew they were number one! I'll have to eat more of them, which is a good thing, because I love me some beet greens. Thanks for always reminding me that the best sources for vitamins and minerals are always real foods :-)

November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterA-K

@JENNFER - thanks for the tip on apple cider vinegar, i want to do more reading about that! I hope your friend finds this information helpful. xoxo

@A-K - Thank you! I know, I was shocked about the beet greens too - it is sad that so many beets come without them, isn't it? And BTW, I'm working on a non-dairy calcium-rich food post that I think you'll love!

November 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

According to http://nutritiondata.self.com (which has the most thorough nutrition breakdown of any site I've seen), ACV has 174 mg of potassium per CUP. So, you'd have to use an awful lot of ACV to get any worthwhile potassium out of it.

I second your suggestion, Kim, of adding greens to soup. Virtually every soup I make now, just as it's about done cooking, I add LOTS of slivered/chiffonaded (or however you'd say it) greens. My favorite is red swiss chard.

AND, I'm VERY MUCH looking forward to your dairy-free calcium post!! Woo hoo!!

Also, totally off topic, but spurred on by your recent rutabaga post, I added some shredded rutabaga to some veggie-meat pasta sauce I made on Monday. It worked really well!! As I was preparing it, I gave slices of raw rutabaga to my two girls, ages 2 & 4, and THEY LOVED IT!! Going grocery shopping tonight, and I'm definitely picking up some more rutabaga. (Oooh, just checked, and there are 337 mg of potassium in a 100g serving of rutabaga, which is really not much rutabaga at all!)

November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Joy

I went through the banana craving phase, too! Towards the end of our Lyme treatment my sister and I were both craving potassium like woah. We only found out that's what it was when one of her blood tests came back with low potassium. We were piling on the potatoes, spinach, hummus, avocado, and yogurt and it totally worked.

Now that I can eat more fruits, I try to get a Larabar or some other form of dates in a couple times a week. And I pretty much rely on a cup of yogurt every morning, a romaine/spinach salad every night, and 5 lb bags of russet or sweet potatoes to get me through life. :)

Also... totally intrigued by the sweet potato pie and can't believe I didn't see it earlier!

November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim Trick

Oh, I'm so glad that you highlighted this...I've been curious about the benefits of potassium, and the symptoms of a deficiency ring quite familiar to me. I wonder if that's one of the reasons that I feel so awesome after eating chard and brussel sprouts! Thanks for taking the time to lay it out for us!

November 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKRIS @ GLOW
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo