Before we list some foods rich in potassium, and suggest some potassium recipes, here's what you need to know about the mineral: Potassium works with sodium (also a mineral) to balance the fluids and electrolyte levels in your body. And among other things, steady fluid levels help to regulate your heartbeat. The mineral may also protect against heart disease by helping to keep your blood pressure at normal levels. In the 1997 study called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, volunteers who ingested 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium per day through a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, plus some fish, poultry, nuts, and beans, lowered their blood pressure in two weeks. Since potassium can act as a diuretic, causing fluid to leave your body, it decreases the pressure forced through the cardiovascular system.
Although we should get 4,700 mg of potassium a day, most people don’t consume enough foods rich in potassium to get nearly that amount. Along with increasing our potassium intake, most of us also need to cut our sodium levels (a good way is to limit or cut out packaged foods) to keep a proper balance between the two minerals in our bodies. Foods rich in potassium (other than bananas, which contain 451 mg per serving) include potatoes (903 mg in a baked potato with skin), spinach (419 mg per ½ cup cooked spinach) and apricots (482 mg in 10 dried apricot halves). Want more choices? Try avocados, low-fat yogurt, lentils, tomato juice, baby limas, and kidney beans. Add these foods to your diet whenever you can. The Rodale Recipe Finder offers thousands of ways to get more potassium; here are some of our favorite potassium recipes.
#1: Banana Pecan Pancakes. Start the day with this potassium recipe, and you'll get a delicious jump on your daily quota. Serve with a glass of orange juice for an additional hit of potassium.
#2: Citrus Avocado Salad. You can do a lot more with avocado than make guacamole (and one day we'll prove that with a list of avocado recipes). For now, try this refreshing and light salad, which is rich in both potassium and vitamin C.
#3: Strawberry Kiwi Smoothies. Whip up this nutritious smoothie as a postworkout reward, which is just when your potassium levels could use a boost. You'll like it so much, you might even get hooked on smoothies.
#4: Grilled Apricot Chicken Skewers. Apricots provide the potassium in this protein-rich dish. A side of steamed or sautéed spinach boosts the potassium benefits even more.
#5: Saffron-Scented Potato Gratin. For a hearty dish that's both familiar and new, try this flavorful, autumn-hued take on potato gratin. Other potato side dish ideas: baked potatoes topped with Greek yogurt and chopped chives, or Greek-Style Roasted New Potatoes.