Potassium is an electrolyte that is essential for healthy functioning of the heart, kidneys, muscle and nervous systems. The best foods for potassium are the ones with the highest potassium content balanced with low sodium, saturated or trans fat and calories. It is recommended that you eat around 4,700 mg of potassium per day, ideally balanced with a sodium intake of around 1,000 mg per day depending on your current health requirements.
Bananas have the most potassium at 357 mg per 100 grams of fruit, followed by cantaloupe with 350 mg, kiwi with 330 mg, then apricot and blackberry with 300 mg each. Fresh fruit is a better choice than dried fruit when trying to add potassium to your diet because dried fruit has a very high sugar content. This makes the nutritional value of dried fruit lower, unless calories are not a concern.
Boiling vegetables usually reduces the amount of nutrition available. For example, raw beets have 325 mg potassium per 100 g serving, but boiled they have about 305 mg. A better alternative is roasting, grilling, or sauteing. Beet greens are very rich in potassium--a 100 g serving of raw beet greens has 725 mg potassium, but boiled with no salt they have 909 mg of potassium--an exception to the no boiling rule. Potatoes and sweet potatoes also have high levels of potassium, 573 mg and 475 mg per 100 g serving, but the skin contains most of the nutrients. Raw spinach is also high in potassium with 558 mg per 100 g serving. Uncooked carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower have 320 mg, 316 mg and 303 mg respectively.
Fish and Seafood
Fish are a good source of potassium that also have fairly low sodium, calories and cholesterol in addition to the beneficial omega-3 fats. These measurements are taken for fresh fish cooked over dry heat, in 100 g servings. Potassium levels vary quite a bit depending on the specific type of fish. For example, farmed Atlantic salmon have only 384 mg/100 g serving, while wild Atlantic salmon have 628 mg, sockeye has 375 mg, Chinook has 505 mg, farmed coho has 460 mg, wild coho has 434 mg and pink salmon has 414 mg. Fish should be eaten with consideration and in moderation as it can also have high levels of mercury, with certain types at higher risk.
Steamed clams are very high in potassium, with 628 mg potassium per 100 g serving. This is followed by halibut, 576 mg; yellowfin tuna, 569 mg; king mackerel, 558 mg; Pacific mackerel, 521 mg; rockfish, 520 mg; Pacific cod, 517 mg and steamed scallops, 476 mg.
For a healthy diet, red meats should be eaten sparingly, and low fat cuts are best. Fruits, vegetables and fish are better sources of potassium. Pork has the highest amounts of potassium, ranging between 350 to 400 mg per 100 g serving of most pork chop and loins, broiled. Lamb has between 300 to 350 mg per 100 g serving, roasted or braised. Chicken is usually between 200 to 300 mg of potassium per 100 g serving, depending on how it is cooked. Beef varies from about 230 to about 250 mg per 100 g serving.
Other excellent sources of potassium are beans. This does not include canned beans, as the canning process leaches nutrients. The nutrient values are for 100 g servings of beans boiled without salt. White beans have the most potassium with 561 mg, then lima and pink beans with 508 mg, followed by pinto beans with 436 mg and kidney beans with 403 mg potassium.
Nuts are also a good source of potassium but can be high in fat. These nutrient values are for dry roasted without salt, 100 g servings. Pistachios are highest with 1042 mg, followed by almonds with 746 mg, then hazel nuts which have 680 mg, Brazil nuts, 659 mg, peanuts, 658 mg, pine nuts, 597 mg, cashews, 565 mg, walnuts, 441 mg and pecans, 424 mg.
Chocolate also has a high potassium content, but should be eaten sparingly because of the fat and sugar. The darker the chocolate, the higher the potassium content. 100 grams of 45-59 percent dark chocolate has 559 mg of potassium, 60 percent dark chocolate has 567 mg, and 70 to 85 percent dark chocolate has 715 mg and around 43 g of fat.
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