Did you know that adding more potassium to your diet might help reduce your risk of high blood pressure?
Potassium is an important nutrient. The National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP) recommends that people who do not suffer from hypertension consume at least 3,500 milligrams of dietary potassium daily, as part of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, with foods containing high amounts of saturated fats and simple sugars kept to a minimum.
However, diets rich in potassium have also been shown to help control high blood pressure, thereby lowering your risk of having a stroke or heart attack. The DASH diet, which is designed to help people lower their blood pressure through diet, was developed by the NHLBI. The DASH diet is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. This diet recommends that people with or at risk for high blood pressure consume at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily. The National Academy of Science has also recommended an intake of 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily to help achieve and maintain a healthy blood pressure. Most Americans, about 95%, do not consume the recommended amount.
Which foods contain high amounts of potassium?
Almost all fruits, vegetables and dairy products contain some amount of potassium. A number of foods, however, have much higher levels of potassium, according to the USDA. Some of the foods containing the highest amounts of potassium include:
Foods High in Potassium
|Food ||Serving Size ||Potassium (mg) |
|Quaker Take Heart Instant Oatmeal ||1 packet (45g) ||350 mg |
|Dried apricots ||10 halves ||407 mg |
|Raw avocados ||1 ounce ||180 mg |
|Raw bananas ||1 cup ||594 mg |
|Cooked beets ||1 cup ||519 mg |
|Cooked Brussels sprouts ||1 cup ||504 mg |
|Cantaloupe ||1 cup ||494 mg |
|Dried dates ||5 dates ||271 mg |
|Dried figs ||2 figs ||271 mg |
|Raw kiwi fruit ||1 medium ||252 mg |
|Lima beans ||1 cup ||955 mg |
|Honeydew melons ||1 cup ||461 mg |
|Fat-free or skim milk ||1 cup ||407 mg |
|Nectarines ||1 nectarine ||288 mg |
|Orange juice ||1 cup ||496 mg |
|Fresh pears ||1 pear ||208 mg |
|Dry roasted peanuts ||1 ounce ||187 mg |
|Baked potato with skin ||1 potato ||1081 mg |
|Prune juice ||1 cup ||707 mg |
|Dried prunes ||1 cup ||828 mg |
|Raisins ||1 cup ||1089 mg |
|Cooked spinach ||1 cup ||837 mg |
|Tomato products ||1 cup ||909 mg |
|Winter squash ||1 cup ||896 mg |
|Plain yogurt ||8 ounces ||579 mg |
There are other foods that are also moderately high in potassium, but try to avoid them because they also contain high levels of sodium, which contributes to high blood pressure. These foods include canned tomato juice, raw clams, sardines, and frozen or canned vegetables with added salt. It is generally a good idea to check the sodium content of any canned or frozen vegetables before purchasing them.
High blood pressure is a major health concern in the United States. While there are medications that can help control high blood pressure, there are many things you can do at home to help, such as eating a healthy diet, including foods rich in potassium, and engaging in regular physical exercise. Work with your physician to develop a diet and exercise program that can help get your high blood pressure under control or prevent it from getting out of control in the first place.