Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is essential to maintain the balance of fluid in your body. Too much salt, though, can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Most Americans consume more salt than their body can use. Foods rich in potassium, including fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, can help purge salt from the body.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends reducing sodium intake and increasing your consumption of potassium-rich foods to help block the effects of salt. Dietary Guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt each day, the equivalent of about one teaspoon. Certain groups of people, including those with high blood pressure or diabetes, may be more susceptible to the effects of sodium and should consume no more than 1,500 mg per day. Foods rich in potassium can also help flush excess salt. Adults are advised to consume 4,700 mg of potassium per day from food sources.
Vegetables and Fruit
Root vegetables, including potatoes and carrots, are an excellent source of potassium. Baked sweet potatoes top the USDA’s list of potassium-rich foods at 694 mg per serving. One baked potato contains 610 mg. Other vegetables and leafy greens like winter squash, celery, beet greens, and spinach are great sources, and tomato paste contains more than 600 mg per serving. Apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupes, and nectarines are all great sources of potassium, offering more than 300 mg per serving, according to the Colorado State University Extension. Dried fruits, including raisins, prunes and dates, are also beneficial. A serving of apples, oranges, peaches, or strawberries usually contains 200 to 300 mg. Orange and grapefruit juices also fall within this range.
White beans are rich in potassium, with half a cup offering almost 600 mg. Soybeans follow closely, with 485 mg per every half cup consumed. Lima beans, lentils, and kidney beans also make the list, offering 350 mg or more per serving.
Meat and Dairy
Yogurt, milk, and buttermilk are included on the USDA’s list of potassium-rich products, with levels ranging from 350 to 579 mg per serving. Chicken, tuna, and clams are also high on the list, with 300 mg or more per serving. Beef and pork make good sources, with between 200 and 300 mg per serving.
Black strap molasses is another source of potassium, with more than 300 mg per two tablespoons. Unsalted nuts offer roughly the same amount in every half-cup, and dill pickles and peanut butter have between 200 and 300 mg.
People with kidney disease or a heart condition should be careful not to consume too much potassium. Patients taking diuretics, or water pills, should also use caution. Consult with your doctor to determine how much potassium is appropriate.