Dietary Potassium

A diet rich in potassium is a healthy choice for most normal people and those with high blood pressure. Indeed, a high potassium diet is part of the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet plan. This was evaluated and found to be successful in lowering BP in an NIH-backed trial. Therefore, a high intake of dietary potassium is advisable unless you have a problem that requires a reduced potassium intake.

On the other hand, it may be necessary to restrict the potassium in your diet, especially if your blood tests show that you have a high level of potassium in your serum. This can occur in patients with chronic kidney disease, especially when they approach end stage renal disease (need for hemodialysis or transplant). It also may be needed in some patients taking drugs such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (e.g. Lisinopril), angiotensin receptor blockers (e.g. Candesartan), or certain diuretics which retain potassium in the body (e.g. amiloride, triamaterene, spironolactone, or eplerenone) and in some individuals for no very clear reason. A potassiumrestricted diet should only be followed after discussion with your physician.

Foods rich in potassium are shown in the accompanying table. Those within especially high potassium content are marked with an asterisk. These asterisks-marked foods should be avoided or taken in very restricted amounts in order to achieve a low potassium intake. Eggs, fresh milk, and many cheeses are quite low in potassium.

Food rich in potassium

  • Many fruits (especially dried or canned) including apricots, avocados, bananas, melons, dates, grapes, grapefruits, oranges, pineapple, prunes, raisins
  • Many vegetables, including artichokes, beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chickpeas, kale, leeks, lentils, maize, mushrooms, parsnips, peas, dried peas, potato chips, potatoes, pumpkin, soybeans, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tomato juice
  • All nuts and seeds
  • Chocolate, cocoa, molasses, marzipan
  • Most meats and fish, especially poultry, salmon, sardines, food especially rich in potassium

For further information and research, please see the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (Released 1/31/11) at: