Potassium In Foods: Beneficial Properties And Effects On The Body

Dean Rouseberg Author: Dean Rouseberg Time for reading: ~16 minutes Last Updated: August 27, 2022
Potassium In Foods: Beneficial Properties And Effects On The Body

Potassium is an important trace mineral and electrolyte. It maintains the water-salt balance, contributes to the proper functioning of the heart, and regulates the activity of the central nervous system.

In the article we will tell:

  1. Useful properties of potassium and its effect on the body
  2. How much potassium does a person need
  3. How to determine the lack of potassium
  4. Signs of excess potassium
  5. What foods contain potassium
  6. Foods high in potassium
  7. Rules for preparing foods with potassium
  8. Menu for a healthy heart

Potassium is an important trace mineral and electrolyte. It maintains the water-salt balance, contributes to the proper functioning of the heart, and regulates the activity of the central nervous system.

Deficiency of this trace element leads to various ailments. And first of all, it is recommended to reconsider your diet. From today's article, you will learn what foods contain potassium, how to determine the lack of potassium, how much you need during the day, and how to properly prepare foods with potassium to replenish it in the body.

Useful properties of potassium and its effect on the body

Potassium is one of the electrolytes, i.e. mineral compounds that can conduct electricity when dissolved in water. More than 95% of all potassium is located inside the cells of the body.

Why are electrolytes important?

Electrolytes are essential for transmitting electrical impulses to the heart, maintaining fluid balance in and out of cells, and signaling muscle contractions. When electrolytes are lost, for example, with sweat during exercise, and their losses are not replenished, this can lead to muscle cramps.


Electrolytes always form pairs. Potassium works in close cooperation with sodium, together these two trace elements play a huge role in maintaining the health of every cell in the body:

  • water balance and fluid distribution;

  • acid-base balance;

  • work of muscle and nerve cells;

  • heart work;

  • kidney and adrenal function.

Thus, in the cells of our body there is a pump, which is called the sodium-potassium pump. This pump is powered by chemical energy in the form of ATP and then moves sodium out of the cells, allowing potassium to enter the cell. During each cycle of the pump, three sodium ions leave the cell, and two potassium ions enter it.


The sodium-potassium pump also maintains an electrical charge within the cell, which is especially important for muscle and nerve cells. During the transmission of nerve impulses or muscle contraction, potassium leaves the cell, and sodium takes its place, which leads to a change in electrical charge. It is this change that triggers a nerve impulse or muscle contraction. It is not at all surprising that the lack of potassium first of all affects the work of muscles and nerve cells.

A diet high in sodium and low in potassium makes it difficult for this pump to work.

How much potassium does a person need

In different countries, the average intake of potassium is less than 3000 mg per day, i.e., below the WHO recommendation - it is desirable for adults to receive at least 3510 mg of potassium per day.

For example, the average per capita consumption of potassium by the population of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is 2107 mg. The average intake of potassium by adult men in the Stavropol Territory is close to normal and higher than that of women. Potassium intake by people with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and obesity in the Moscow region was 3144 mg.


The daily requirement for potassium depends on age, physical condition and even where you live. Adult healthy people need 2.5 g of potassium, pregnant women - 3.5 g, athletes - up to 5 grams of potassium daily. The amount of potassium for adolescents is calculated by weight - 20 mg of potassium per 1 kg of body weight.

Potassium rates are calculated for all age categories and are presented in the table below:


Daily rate

Children under 2 years old

400-600 mg

Children from 3 to 5 years old

3000 mg

Children from 6 to 8 years old

3800 mg

Children from 9 to 13 years old

4500 mg

Teenagers under 18

4600 mg


4700 mg

Women during pregnancy and lactation

5 100 mg


4800 mg

The body's daily requirement for potassium increases:

  • in patients with type 1 diabetes, as well as in those who are prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;

  • when taking diuretics;

  • with a low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet: in such cases, fruits, the alkaline composition of which regulates potassium metabolism, are practically not included in the diet;

  • at sports loads: potassium is intensively excreted from the body with sweat.

In most physiological processes, potassium acts as an antagonist to sodium, therefore, to maintain good health, it is necessary that the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet be 1:2 - 1:4.

Unhealthy excess sodium in the body can be neutralized by the introduction of additional amounts of potassium. This is the basis for the treatment of edematous conditions with a diet enriched with potassium.


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The average daily sodium intake is between 2500 and 7500 mg. Most of this amount enters the body in the form of sodium chloride or salt. How much sodium does our body actually need per day? Oddly enough, this is only 200 mg, i.e. 10-30 times less than the average intake.

The lack of one of these elements leads to an excess of the other and, as a result, to a failure in certain body systems.

Thus, the balance of sodium and potassium is much more important than maintaining a specific amount.

How to determine the lack of potassium

Potassium deficiency is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • fatigue, weakness, loss of strength;

  • high blood pressure;

  • muscle weakness, spasms and cramps;

  • cardiac arrhythmia;

  • constipation;

  • tingling and numbness in the arms and legs;

  • puffiness;

  • dizziness.

These symptoms signal a low level of energy stores in the muscles. The fact is that potassium is necessary for the conversion of sugar contained in the blood into glycogen.

Since glycogen is used by the muscles as an energy source, potassium deficiency causes marked fatigue and muscle weakness.

Leg cramps, especially those that wake you up in the middle of the night, can also be linked to low levels of magnesium and calcium.

Insufficient amounts of potassium and magnesium can contribute to the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. Often, just replenishing the body's mineral reserves with equal amounts (250-500 mg) of organic potassium and magnesium salts is enough to restore muscle tone, increase energy levels and increase endurance.

Results can often be seen within a week. If this duo doesn't work on its own, it can still be a useful addition to other types of fatigue.


What can cause potassium deficiency?

In addition to insufficient potassium in the diet:

  • the use of foods that are not saturated with this element;

  • increased excretion of potassium from the body along with urine;

  • hyperfunction of the adrenal cortex and anterior pituitary gland;

  • primary and secondary aldosteronism (an increase in the hormone aldosterone);

  • increased secretion of antidiuretic hormone;

  • active treatment with corticosteroids;

  • drinking large amounts of fluids that do not contain potassium, with vomiting and diarrhea;

  • diabetes;

  • diabetes insipidus;

  • magnesium deficiency;

  • cystic fibrosis;

  • acidosis.

The amount of potassium excreted with sweat can be very significant, especially during long workouts during the heat. Athletes or people who play sports regularly may have a high need for this micronutrient.

Signs of excess potassium

Not only lack, but also too much potassium is dangerous.

Symptoms resemble a trace element deficiency, so it is advisable to take tests

In such cases, the following symptoms occur:

  • increased excitability of the nervous system, irritability, anxiety;

  • sweating;

  • weakness;

  • cardiopsychoneurosis;

  • intestinal colic;

  • frequent urination.

A healthy person should not worry about a possible overdose. Normally, excess trace element is excreted through the kidneys.

If a person is diagnosed with hyperkalemia, he is sent for examination.


The causes of excess potassium are:

  • kidney failure;

  • hemolytic anemia;

  • malignant tumors;

  • dehydration;

  • anaphylactic shock;

  • hypofunction of the adrenal cortex (Addison's disease).

If potassium levels are elevated, it is recommended to limit potassium-rich foods.

What foods contain potassium

All products containing potassium (K) are usually classified based on the concentration of this useful mineral in them:

  • low-potassium (100 mg of the component per 100 g of the product);

  • with an average potassium content (150-200 mg per 100 g);

  • high in potassium (260-400 mg per 100 g);

  • saturated with potassium (more than 400 mg per 100 g).

plant sources of potassium

Plant products are a real storehouse of useful potassium compounds. Among them is a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and berries containing this mineral.

For example, potassium in fruits is perfectly absorbed, since the combination of glucose with insulin is very effective, which promotes the transition of potassium into cells.

Vegetables and fruits are high in potassium and low in sodium.

Potassium content in nuts and seeds:

The product's name

Potassium content in 100g


658 mg


474 mg

Dried acorns

709 mg

pine nut

597 mg

Cashew nuts

553 mg


497 mg


748 mg

Sunflower seeds (seeds)

647 mg


1025 mg


445 mg

The content of potassium in cereals and grain products:

The product's name

Potassium content in 100g

Buckwheat (grain)

325 mg

Buckwheat (prodel)

320 mg

Buckwheat (kernel)

380 mg

Corn grits

147 mg


130 mg


362 mg

Pearl barley

172 mg

Wheat groats

230 mg

Millet groats (polished)

211 mg

Rice groats

100 mg

Barley groats

205 mg

sweet corn

270 mg

Pasta from 1 grade flour

178 mg

Premium flour pasta

123 mg

Buckwheat flour

577 mg

Corn flour

147 mg

oat flour

280 mg

Oat flour (oatmeal)

351 mg

Wheat flour 1 grade

176 mg

Wheat flour 2 grades

251 mg

Premium wheat flour

122 mg

Whole wheat flour

310 mg

Peeled rye flour

600 mg

Rye flour

396 mg

Seeded rye flour

200 mg

rice flour

50 mg

Oats (grain)

421 mg

Oat bran

566 mg

Wheat bran

1260 mg

Wheat (grain, soft variety)

337 mg

Wheat (grain, durum)

325 mg

Rice (grain)

314 mg

Rye (grain)

424 mg

Oat flakes "Hercules"

330 mg

Barley (grain)

453 mg

Potassium content in legumes:

The product's name

Potassium content in 100g

Peas (shelled)

731 mg

Green peas (fresh)

285 mg


1000 mg


968 mg

Soy (grain)

1607 mg

Beans (grain)

1100 mg

Green beans)

260 mg

Lentils (grain)

672 mg

The content of potassium in fruits, berries, dried fruits:

The product's name

Potassium content in 100g


305 mg


485 mg


144 mg

cherry plum

188 mg

A pineapple

321 mg


197 mg


110 mg


348 mg


90 mg


225 mg


256 mg


51 mg


150 mg


184 mg


155 mg

dried pear

872 mg


436 mg


118 mg


208 mg


161 mg


830 mg

Fresh figs

190 mg

Dried figs

710 mg


300 mg


119 mg


260 mg

Dried apricots

1717 mg


163 mg


224 mg


168 mg


155 mg


180 mg


201 mg

Sea ​​buckthorn

193 mg


182 mg


363 mg

dried peach

2043 mg


216 mg

Rowan red

230 mg

Rowan chokeberry

158 mg


214 mg

White currant

270 mg

Red currants

275 mg

Black currant

600 mg

Dried apricots

1781 mg


172 mg


370 mg


200 mg

Sweet cherry

233 mg


51 mg


864 mg

Rose hip

23 mg


278 mg

Dried apples

580 mg

Potassium content in vegetables and herbs:

The product's name

Potassium content in 100g

Basil (green)

295 mg


238 mg


238 mg

Ginger (root)

415 mg


238 mg

White cabbage

300 mg


316 mg

Brussels sprouts

600 mg

kohlrabi cabbage

370 mg

red cabbage

302 mg


238 mg

Savoy cabbage

238 mg


210 mg


568 mg

cilantro (greens)

521 mg

Watercress (greens)

606 mg

Dandelion leaves (green)

397 mg

Green onion (feather)

259 mg


225 mg


175 mg


200 mg

sea ​​kale

970 mg


141 mg


370 mg

Parsnip (root)

529 mg

Sweet pepper (Bulgarian)

163 mg

Parsley (greens)

800 mg

Parsley (root)

342 mg

Tomato (tomato)

290 mg

Rhubarb (greens)

325 mg


255 mg

Black radish

357 mg


238 mg

Leaf lettuce (greens)

220 mg


288 mg

Celery (greens)

430 mg

Celery (root)

393 mg

Asparagus (greens)

196 mg

Jerusalem artichoke

200 mg


204 mg

Dill (greens)

335 mg

Horseradish (root)

579 mg


260 mg

Spinach (greens)

774 mg

Sorrel (greens)

500 mg

Animal products that contain potassium

Do not neglect animal products - they also contain potassium reserves.

Potassium content in meat, fish and seafood:

The product's name

Potassium content in 100g


160 mg

Pink salmon

335 mg

Red granular caviar

90 mg

Pollack caviar

60 mg

Caviar black granular

80 mg


280 mg


320 mg


335 mg

Baltic sprat

380 mg

Caspian sprat

600 mg


220 mg


265 mg

Atlantic salmon (salmon)

420 mg


310 mg


420 mg


290 mg

Meat (lamb)

270 mg

Meat (beef)

326 mg

Meat (turkey)

210 mg

Meat (rabbit)

335 mg

Meat (chicken)

194 mg

Meat (fatty pork)

230 mg

Meat (pork meat)

285 mg

Meat (broiler chickens)

236 mg


335 mg

sea ​​bass

300 mg

river perch

280 mg


280 mg


450 mg

beef liver

277 mg


300 mg

Beef kidneys

237 mg

Cancer river

250 mg


280 mg


210 mg

Fatty herring

310 mg

Low fat herring

31 mg

Salted herring

215 mg


280 mg


240 mg

Horse mackerel

600 mg


280 mg


340 mg


600 mg


230 mg


220 mg


335 mg


260 mg

Potassium content in dairy products and egg products:

The product's name

Potassium content in 100g


145 mg

Chicken egg white

152 mg

Cheese (from cow's milk)

95 mg

Varenets 2.5%

144 mg

Chicken egg yolk

129 mg

Yoghurt 1.5%

152 mg

Yoghurt 3.2%

147 mg


146 mg

Kumis (from mare's milk)

77 mg

Koumiss low-fat (from cow's milk)

146 mg


146 mg

goat milk

204 mg

Curdled milk 2.5%

144 mg


146 mg

Cream 10%

124 mg

Cream 20%

109 mg

Cream 35%

90 mg

Sour cream 10%

124 mg

Sour cream 15%

116 mg

Sour cream 20%

109 mg

Sour cream 25%

100 mg

Sour cream 30%

95 mg

Cheese "Adyghe"

70 mg

Cheese "Dutch" 45%

100 mg

Cheese "Camembert"

75 mg

Cheese "Parmesan"

92 mg

Cheese "Poshekhonsky" 45%

95 mg

Cheese "Roquefort" 50%

110 mg

Cheese "Russian" 50%

88 mg

Sulguni cheese"

100 mg

Chees Feta"

62 mg

Cheese "Cheddar" 50%

116 mg

Cheese "Swiss" 50%

100 mg

Gouda cheese

121 mg

Curd 18% (fatty)

112 mg

Curd 2%

78 mg

Curd 4%

112 mg

Curd 5%

112 mg

Chicken egg

140 mg

quail egg

144 mg

Among all the listed products, we highlight the TOP foods in terms of potassium content, availability, ease of preparation and absorption by the body. Foods containing potassium in large quantities

  1. Potato

    One medium potato contains 900 mg of potassium. Eating just one potato for lunch as a side dish can give you just over 1/5 of your daily potassium intake. For potassium absorption, give preference to baked potatoes.

    Potatoes also contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron and fiber (especially in the skin). When chilled, potato starch nourishes the beneficial intestinal microflora.

  2. Sun-dried tomatoes

    Fresh tomatoes also contain potassium. But much more of it is in dried tomatoes or tomato paste. It is better to cook these products yourself or choose in a store with a good composition - without added sugar and preservatives.


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    A glass of these tomatoes contains 1,800 mg of potassium, which is about 40% of the daily recommended amount.

    In addition, tomatoes contain a lot of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, improve the digestive and immune systems, and are good for the heart.

  3. Beans

    Red and white beans are equally useful for the body. One cup of red beans has 600 mg of it, white - 1,000 mg. Beans are high in fiber, protein and iron. It can be added to soups and salads.

  4. Dried apricots

    The concentration of nutrients contained in fresh apricots increases in dry form. Therefore, 100 grams of dried apricot contains 1.162 mg of potassium.

  5. Prunes

    In addition to potassium (686 mg per ½ cup), prunes contain vitamins B1, B2, C, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

  6. Avocado

    One avocado contains approximately 975 mg of potassium, as well as magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, various vitamins, and healthy fats that are so important for the heart and good skin.


  7. Salmon

    In 100 grams, you can find 420 mg of potassium - this is more than in any other fish. In addition, red fish is rich in omega-3s and vitamin D.

  8. Spinach

    An excellent side dish for fish and meat dishes, as well as a frequent ingredient in the most delicious smoothies, it contains 774 mg of potassium per 100 grams.

  9. Pumpkin

    There are a lot of pumpkin varieties, the amount of potassium depends on it. For example, in 100 grams of cooked acorn pumpkin it is 437 mg, and in winter - 448 mg.

  10. oranges

    In addition to vitamin C and B vitamins, folic acid, oranges also contain potassium. With one glass of juice, you will get about 473 mg of potassium.

Rules for preparing foods with potassium

As you can see, there are a lot of sources of potassium. But it is equally important to know how to properly prepare meals so as to preserve and the body absorbs as much potassium as possible.

The main requirement for vegetables and fruits is freshness and no damage. In withered fruits, potassium is noticeably less. It is best to store them in a dry and cool place.

The amount of nutrients in the finished food is affected by the cooking temperature, interaction with oxygen, and the level of acidity of the dish. Potassium, like most vitamins, is destroyed by strong heating, especially during long cooking. Therefore, it is necessary to cook quickly, trying to reduce the processing temperature as much as possible.


The component does not tolerate cooking and soaking - with this treatment, the mineral quickly passes into water.

After cooking vegetables, most of the potassium is not stored in the pulp, but goes into the broth, which is usually poured out after cooking. Therefore, plant foods rich in potassium and magnesium are best baked or served raw.

For example, stewed spinach has 17% less potassium than fresh spinach. And curly cabbage during cooking loses up to 50% of the valuable element contained in it.

Arterial hypertension (AH) is one of the main risk factors for CVD, stroke and kidney damage and affects about 1 billion people worldwide.

One of the causes of the AH pandemic in Russia is the high consumption of salt and low potassium. The ratio of sodium and potassium in the urine with hypertension exceeds 5.7.

Moderate dietary potassium intake can lead to a decrease in blood pressure (BP) in people with hypertension, especially in the absence of drug therapy, the consumption of large amounts of sodium and / or insufficient potassium (<6000 mg / day).

Increasing potassium intake by 1.64 g may reduce the risk of stroke by 21% (p=0.0007) and overall CVD.

Randomized controlled trials conducted in Europe suggest that potassium intakes greater than 6000 mg/day have a beneficial effect on blood pressure in adults, and less than 6000 mg/day is associated with a higher risk of stroke and other CVDs.

Given that a daily potassium intake of less than 6000 mg is associated with an increased risk of stroke due to elevated blood pressure, the draft norms for the physiological need for energy and nutrients (2020) for the population of the Russian Federation suggest an increase in the recommended intake for potassium from 2500 mg to 6000 mg/day.

The body needs to keep blood potassium levels within a narrow range. Levels that are too high (hyperkalemia) or too low (hypokalemia) can cause serious consequences, such as abnormal heart rhythms or even cardiac arrest.

For a healthy heart, we should consume twice as much potassium as sodium, and even more is better. A high balance is easy to maintain if your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, as most of these foods have a K:Na balance of 100:1 or higher.


Sodium and potassium contents and K:Na balance in common fruits and vegetables.



Potassium (mg)

Sodium (mg)

Potassium:sodium balance


½ piece, medium size




Banana, raw

1 piece medium size




Brussels sprouts, steamed

1/2 cup




Carrots, raw

1/2 cup





1 piece medium size




Potato baked in skin

1 piece medium size





1/2 cup




Spinach, boiled

1/2 cup




Approximate diet for 1 day


  • millet porridge in coconut milk with the addition of dried apricots and almonds;

  • 2 boiled eggs / vegetable salad;

  • rosehip decoction.


  • dried fruits / nuts (no more than 50 g);

  • carrot/orange juice.


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  • pumpkin and potato puree soup;

  • Vegetarian pilaf with quinoa and chickpeas.


  • boiled rabbit or fish meat;

  • vegetable salad;

  • herbal tea.

This menu is for 1 day only. If you feel like eating other meals, you can cook them using foods high in potassium.

Choose vegetables and greens for salads from the most potassium-rich foods from the tables above.

Solving the problem of potassium deficiency is easy enough: for this you need to reduce sodium intake - less salt and reduce the proportion of prepared foods, increase potassium intake - eat more whole plant foods. This will allow you not only to reduce the risk of arterial hypertension, but also to feel and look better.


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