Your Blood Pressure: Understanding Potassium

Potassium is a key mineral that the body relies on heavily to function properly. It helps to lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt. Your kidneys help to control your blood pressure by controlling the amount of fluid stored in your body.
Kale salad with goat cheese and roasted purple, red, and yellow beets

How Does it Work?

The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine. Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps further lower blood pressure.
Increasing potassium through diet is recommended in adults with blood pressure above 120/80 who are otherwise healthy.
Potassium can be harmful in patients with kidney disease, any condition that affects how the body handles potassium, or those who take certain medications. The decision of whether to take excess potassium should be discussed with your doctor. The DASH Diet eating plan is designed to be rich in potassium, with a target of 4,700 mg potassium daily, to enhance the effects of reducing sodium on blood pressure. The following are examples of potassium-rich foods.


Food Potassium (mg)
Potato, 1 small 738
Plain yogurt, nonfat or low-fat, 8 ounces 530–570
Sweet potato, 1 medium 542
Orange juice, fresh, 1 cup 496
Lima beans, ½ cup 478
Soybeans, cooked, ½ cup 443
Banana, 1 medium 422
Fish (cod, halibut, rockfish, trout, tuna), 3 ounces 200–400
Tomato sauce, ½ cup 405
Prunes, stewed, ½ cup 398
Skim milk, 1 cup 382
Apricots, ¼ cup 378
Pinto beans, cooked, ½ cup 373
Pork tenderloin, 3 ounces 371
Lentils, cooked, ½ cup 365
Kidney beans, cooked, ½ cup 360
Split peas, cooked, ½ cup 360
Brussel Sprouts, roasted, 1 cup 342

Potassium is Only Part of It

Potassium is not the only component in managing your heart health: Even though potassium can lessen the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium, eating more potassium should be combined with your efforts to break up with that excess salt and develop other healthy eating and lifestyle habits. If you smoke, ask your doctor about strategies to stop. If you aren't active, try to find activities that you can do daily, incorporating them in your regular daily routine, like you do when brushing your teeth or showering.

Is it possible to have too much potassium?

Too much potassium can be harmful in people with kidney disorders. As kidneys become less able to remove potassium from your blood, too much potassium may build up. Often, like high blood pressure, there aren’t many symptoms of high potassium (hyperkalemia). Feeling sick to your stomach, a low, weak or irregular pulse and fainting may occur with high levels of potassium. Consult with a healthcare professional before taking any over-the-counter potassium supplement. You should also ask your doctor before trying salt substitutes, which can raise potassium in people with certain health conditions and those taking ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure.

September 21, 2018 | Categories: Basic, Blood Pressure, Hypertension, Hypertension Basic, Nutrition, Nutrition & Hypertension | Comments Off