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Quick Facts

P O T A S S I U M


What is potassium?

Potassium is a mineral which appears in abundance in all living plant and animal cells. The human body uses it to promote regular heartbeat, help build muscles, help contract muscles, regulate blood pressure, and control the water balance in body tissues and cells.


In what foods is it found?

Potassium is found in highest amounts in fresh, unprocessed food. Although bananas have a reputation as good potassium sources, they contain only 400 mg of potassium each. In comparison, 1 cup of lima beans has 1,000 mg of potassium, and 1 baked potato has 900 mg. Even a glass of fresh orange juice has more potassium than a banana, coming in at 500 mg of potassium per cup.


If you don't eat enough potassium, what happens?

Nutritionists say you should eat at least 2,000 mg of potassium daily; the average American diet easily provides between 2,000 and 6,000 mg of potassium each day. If for some reason you weren't getting enough potassium, your skin would become dry, and you'd experience depression, fatigue, and slow reflexes. Extreme potassium deficiency leads to hypertension and congestive heart failure.

However, most people have no trouble eating adequate amounts of potassium. People with chronic diseases such as diabetes, and people on diuretics or laxatives, may suffer from potassium deficiency, as may people with renal disease.


Is it possible to consume too much potassium?

People with renal failure may retain too much potassium in their blood; this disorder, known as hyperkalemia, is treatable.

However, for most people, if you only eat potassium in food, you cannot get too much of it. Even taking potassium supplements won't kill you; taking too many will only cause nausea and vomiting. However, large amounts of potassium injections, which bypass the stomach and intestines, may trigger irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest, and can lead to death.



Some meats high in potassium

BEEF:
ITEM SERV. CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT CHOLEST. PROT. POTAS.
ROUND, EYE, LEAN, RAW 1lb.
599
19.5g
6.5g
245mg
98.5g
1737.5mg
RIB EYE, SM. END(10-12), LEAN, RAW 1lb.
730.5
37.5g
14.5g
267.5mg
91.5g
1692mg
CHUCK, ARM POT ROAST, LEAN, RAW 1lb.
589.5
20g
7g
272mg
96.5g
1687.5mg
ROUND, BOTTOM, LEAN, RAW 1lb.
653
25.5g
8.5g
267.5mg
99g
1683mg
PORK:
ITEM SERV. CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT CHOLEST. PROT. POTAS.
LOIN, WHOLE, LEAN, RAW 1lb.
648.5
25.5g
9g
267.5mg
97g
1764.5mg
SIRLOIN (CHOPS/ROAST), BONE-IN, LEAN, RAW 1lb.
644
26g
9g
286mg
95.5g
1678.5mg
HAM, WHOLE, LEAN, RAW 1lb.
617
24.5g
8.5g
308.5mg
93g
1674mg
TENDERLOIN, LEAN, RAW 1lb.
544.5
15.5g
5.5g
295mg
95g
1660mg
SEAFOOD:
ITEM SERV. CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT CHOLEST. PROT. POTAS.
GROUPER, MIXED SPECIES 1 fillet (259g)
238.5
2.5g
0.5g
96mg
50g
1251mg
SALMON, ATLANTIC, WILD 1/2 fillet (198g)
281
12.5g
2g
109mg
39.5g
970mg
COD, ATLANTIC 1 fillet (231g)
189.5
1.5g
0.5g
99.5mg
41g
954mg
HALIBUT, ATLANTIC & PACIFIC 1/2 fillet (204g)
224.5
4.5g
0.5g
65.5mg
42.5g
918mg
MACKEREL, PACIFIC & JACK 1 fillet (225g)
355.5
18g
5g
106mg
45g
913.5mg
Source: USDA - Nutrient Data Lab (Sept. 1996) - all data rounded to nearest 0.5

Other In-Depth Food Specials:


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