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Foods & Snacks High in Potassium

By Lori Newell

The body needs potassium, an element that plays a role in regulating metabolism and keeping the acids and bases in the body in balance. It must be present to metabolize protein and carbohydrates, it aids in muscle contractions and it regulates the electrical activity of the heart. Too little potassium can come from certain diseases, too much salt consumption or as a side effect of medication, and it can lead to various health problems. The good news is that there are many foods and snacks high in potassium.

Fruits and Vegetables

To help meet daily potassium needs, it is important to eat a variety of foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Good sources include bananas, avocados, spinach, cantaloupes, tomatoes, grapefruit, oranges, dried apricots, prunes and prune juice, honeydew melons and potatoes. Since potassium is high in many foods, it should be easy to get enough through diet, states the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Supplements should only be taken under a doctor's advice and supervision. As essential as potassium is to the body, too much can cause a variety of health problems.

Almonds and Sunflower Seeds

Current daily potassium recommendations for infants up to 1 year is between 400 and 700 milligrams; children age 1 to 19 need 1,000 to 4,500 mg; and adults should consume about 4,700, claims the Linus Pauling Institute's Micronutrient Information Center. These are just general guidelines, and a doctor or registered dietitian can determine actual daily needs based on age, gender and general overall health.

To help meet these needs along with fruits and vegetables, it helps to snack on almonds and sunflower seeds, which have around 200 to 240 mg per serving. Molasses can be added to foods or tea, as one teaspoon has almost 300 mg.

Fish and Beans

Many Americans do not consume enough potassium, which can cause problems with blood pressure, warns the American Dietetic Association. Eating too much salt can cause an increase in blood pressure. However, eating enough potassium can balance this and bring blood pressure numbers down.

On average, male adults are consuming only about 3,200 milligrams daily, and females only 2,400 milligrams a day. To increase potassium intake, try adding foods such as cod and halibut into the diet, as well as white beans and kidney beans.

Dairy and Soy Products

Many dairy products also contain potassium. Low-fat yogurt, milk and their soy alternatives can be added during the day to boost potassium intake. The goal is to learn to read food labels and find a variety of foods low in fat and salt but high in potassium.

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