This stuff is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Did you know that while bananas are the most widely known source of potassium, they aren’t actually the best way to get your daily dose of this vital nutrient. We’re here to break down potassium and its benefits, plus share some unexpected sources to make it easier for you to get your daily dose. How a-peel-ing!
All About Potassium
Potassium is one of the essential macrominerals needed for the human body to properly function. Potassium helps to regulate fluid in the body, lowers risk of stroke, and maintains electrical activity of the heart; it also prevents kidney stones, lowers blood pressure, and helps bones remain strong and intact.
The recommended intake of potassium for the average adult is 4,700 milligrams each day. Having a low potassium count is called hypokalemia, and it’s a condition that can include symptoms such as weakness, constipation, muscle cramps, and fatigue. An elevated potassium level is called hyperkalemia, and can be caused by acute and chronic kidney failure. If you have hyperkalemia, symptoms such as paralysis, nausea, muscle fatigue, and abnormal heart rhythms can occur.
Banana Break Down
Besides being one of the most popular fruits in the world, bananas are an excellent source of potassium and other nutrients. One medium-sized banana, about seven inches long, contains about 422 milligrams of potassium and three grams of dietary fiber. Consumption of this yellow snack has been linked to lower blood pressure, decreased risk of cancer, improved heart health, lowered risk of asthma, and better digestive health. However, there are some surprising sources that contain even more potassium than a banana. Read on for more in depth ways to consume the ideal amount of this vital nutrient.
Our Ultimate Potassium List
1. Acorn Squash
This wonderful winter squash totally knocks bananas out of the park when it comes to potassium intake. Just one squash contains 1,496 milligrams of potassium, while one cup offers an impressive 486 milligrams. We can’t wait to cook with this nutritional powerhouse next fall and winter!
The next food on our potassium list is the pretty papaya. Just one large fruit contains a shocking 1,421 milligrams of potassium. That’s more than three times the amount in one banana! Along with its high potassium content, papayas are also full of vitamin C.
Plantains are the starchier, less-sweet sibling of bananas, so it’s not shocking that this tropical treat earns a place on our list. One fruit contains roughly 1,315 milligrams of potassium — which is much more than their banana relatives.
4. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is widely known as one of the most nutritious vegetables in existence. Included in this impressive, nutrient-dense profile is calcium, iron, magnesium, and, you guessed it, a large amount of potassium per serving. One cooked cup of chard contains roughly 961 milligrams of potassium.
Spinach is the mildest and perhaps the most palatable of the leafy salad greens. Extra bonus? One cup of cooked spinach contains a shocking 839 milligrams of potassium. That’s nearly double the amount found in a banana! Instead of using iceberg lettuce, load up on spinach when you make your next salad — it’ll take care of all your potassium needs, sans-banana.
The millenial staple avocado is another great source of potassium. One medium-sized avocado, pitted and skinned, contains about 690 milligrams or the essential nutrient. Looks like avocado toast, spread, and chips should be in our culinary future!
7. Baked Potato
The humble baked potato is another excellent way to get the recommended daily intake of potassium. Just one potato has 610 milligrams of this vital mineral. And because baked potatoes are so versatile, it’s easy to get your daily dose of potassium while adding your favorite toppings to make this dish to your taste.
8. White Beans
A vegan staple, beans are packed with important vitamins and minerals. For example, simple white kidney beans, also referred to as cannellini beans, contain 541 milligrams of potassium per cup. That’s over 100 milligrams more than bananas offer, despite their high-potassium reputation.
9. Dried Apricots
Dried apricots are a great addition to trail mix, and happen to be high in potassium. A handful of these dried pretties (which comes out to be about five), contains 520 milligrams of potassium per serving, which is about 100 more per serving than a banana. Looks like we have a new favorite snack!
One cup of beets contains an impressive 442 milligrams of potassium, and is a highly versatile vegetable in terms of how it can be prepared and what dishes it can be added to. These red veggies can even be baked into beet chips! For added convenience, check out our list of ways to cook beets so you can absorb the healthy benefits with ease.
11. Sweet Potatoes
A medium sweet potato, about five inches long, contains 438 milligrams of potassium. As with beets, there are numerous ways to prepare this healthy starch to get even more potassium into your daily diet — don’t forget to eat the skin.
Overall, it’s vital to consume enough potassium each day so your body can properly function. As previously stated, the recommended amount of potassium for an adult is about 4,700 milligrams per day. And with your newfound knowledge on foods high in potassium, you no longer have to resign yourself to eating bananas every single day, which can get a bit boring. Mix it up a bit with some of these high-potassium foods.