Quick – name a food high in the mineral potassium. You said bananas didn’t you. Yes, bananas are famously known to be a very good source of this all-important nutrient. Just about any patient who has ever had a low potassium level will be told by their doctor to eat more bananas.
Now there is nothing wrong with bananas as a go-to food for your potassium fix. But what if you don’t really like bananas that well or you get tired of eating them. Or what if you find out there are many other very good and nutritious foods that actually contain more potassium than a banana?
The versatility of potassium in the human body
First, some background on why potassium is such a valuable mineral. It is the third most abundant mineral found in the human body behind phosphorus and calcium (the most abundant). This vital nutrient has many roles from controlling blood pressure, ensuring proper functioning of all cells, tissues, and organs, to conducting electricity in the body, crucial for heart function and it is also an electrolyte. It is also necessary for its’ pivotal role in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, making it important for normal digestive and muscular function.
The many hats this hard-working mineral wears is why doctors get nervous when a person’s potassium levels are too low or even too high – abnormal potassium levels can result in muscle cramps or weakness, nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, dehydration, low blood pressure, confusion, irritability, paralysis, and changes in heart rhythm.
7 foods besides bananas high in potassium
Here is a listing of 7 common foods that are also very good to excellent sources of potassium besides bananas. Each day, the Recommended Dietary Allowance suggests 4700 milligrams (mg) of potassium from age 14 on up – a medium banana contains 422 mg. The more foods each of us are aware of packed with potassium, the more choices we can choose from other than just bananas.
Best known for its’ heart healthy monounsaturated fat and providing us with the main ingredient for fantastic guacamole, one-half cup of an avocado provides 558 mg of potassium. Besides guacamole, avocados can be used as a much healthier substitute spread for butter or mayonnaise on toast or a sandwich, top a salad with slices of it or use it for topping an omelet.
2. Sweet potato
Brimming with beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, this tuber contains 475 mg of potassium in one-half cup of a baked sweet potato. Add a dollop of almond butter and cinnamon and enjoy this starchy vegetables nutritional goodness.
Not to be overlooked, edamame is an immature or young soybean that can be enjoyed as a side dish for a meal or as a nutrient-rich snack. One cup provides a whopping 676 mg of potassium. Edamame is also an excellent source of protein (18 grams) and fiber (8 grams) in this same one cup serving.
4. White beans
Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat the more potassium you’ll get. Besides being a good source of calcium and iron, white beans are an excellent source of potassium as a one cup serving is loaded with 1,004 mg. Take advantage of beans versatility by adding them to soups, salads, or combined with vegetables such as broccoli or squash.
Milk is not just for bone-building calcium. One cup of this nutritious beverage contains approximately 380 mg of potassium, slightly less than a banana. But there is a type of milk called a2 milk that is found in specialty stores. A2 milk is a natural milk coming from selected cows that naturally produce only the A2 protein and it contains up to 510 mg of potassium in one cup. Most cows contain a1 protein which for some people can result in digestive discomfort. Drinking a2 milk may be a good alternative for people with milk sensitivities.
The arils of pomegranate, those crunchy, fiber-filled seed pods, rival bananas as a powerhouse of potassium providing 410 mg per cup. Since pomegranates are available only from October through January, opt the rest of the year for drinking pomegranate juice which actually contains even more potassium of 600 mg per cup.
7. Tomato puree
Well-known for containing the prostate cancer fighting phytochemical called lycopene, tomatoes contain 427 mg of potassium in one cup. But when tomatoes are cooked, the potassium increases to 549 mg in one-half cup of tomato puree. Tomato purees are excellent for adding to pasta, spaghetti squash or used in a chicken parmesan recipe.