7 Foods Higher in Potassium Than Bananas —and Why Nutrition Experts Want You to Eat More of Them
According to a registered dietitian, that banana-a-day habit won’t quite cut it. Here are some delicious ways to pack more potassium into your diet.
Potassium: We know we need it, but more likely than not, we don't really know what it is.
Simply stated, potassium is a mineral that's classified as an electrolyte, because it's highly reactive in water (to better understand electrolytes, see our guide here). When it's dissolved in water, potassium produces ions that are positively charged, and its ability to conduct electricity is what makes it an integral part of our body's ability to properly function. Despite our lack of knowledge about potassium, its importance cannot be emphasized enough.
"Potassium helps with many processes in the body, including water regulation in and out of the cells, sending nerve signals, and controlling muscle contractions," explains Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, and founder of Real Nutrition. "It also has been shown to help decrease high blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke, and prevent kidney stones and osteoporosis. This is because it helps to prevent calcium from leaching out of the bones."
Everyone always thinks of bananas when trying to consume adequate potassium, however, a single banana contains just 9 percent of your daily potassium requirement. "There are so many other whole foods that are abundant with potassium," explains Shapiro. Read on for the nutrition expert's favorite potassium-rich foods.
Avocados are full of fiber and heart-healthy fats, and half of an avocado contains 10 percent of your daily potassium needs—which is already more than a banana. “Not to mention the texture and flavor they add to any dish,” Shapiro adds.
According to Shapiro, sweet potatoes pack tons of vitamin A for eye and skin health, plus they’re filled with heart-healthy fiber. “One medium sweet potato contains 12 percent of your daily potassium needs. Pair one with some lean protein and you'll feel satisfied for hours.”
Spinach is low in calories, high in fiber, and packed with folic acid. “It’s also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin to support eye health,” Shapiro adds. “And 3 cups of spinach—which, by the way, cooks down to nothing—contains a whopping 12 percent of your daily potassium needs.” Mild in flavor, spinach can easily be added to your salads or soups for a balanced and healthy meal.
According to Shapiro, watermelon is loaded with antioxidants that reduce the risk for certain cancers. Additionally, 1/8 of a watermelon contains 14 percent of your daily potassium needs along with vitamin A, Vitamin C (hello, glowing skin), and fiber.
Beans—think white, black, or soy—are not just rich in plant-based protein and fiber, but a one-cup serving also contains between 14 to 18 percent of your potassium needs. “Beans are incredibly versatile, too. They can easily be added to your salad or soup, or you can sprinkle them on tacos and eggs,” Shapiro adds.
Dried apricots are a delicious snack that contains about 10 percent of your daily requirements for potassium. “I love these paired with nuts in a trail mix—perfect when you are on the go or craving something sweet that doesn’t contain added sugar,” says Shapiro.