Potassium is a key factor in managing blood pressure that we often overlook. Generally, those people with blood pressure issues focus on reducing sodium rather than increasing potassium in our diets. The USDA recommends 4700mg of potassium each day. However, the average American is not even reaching half of this suggested level. Potassium helps control blood pressure by reducing the effects of sodium in our blood stream. The more potassium consumed the more sodium we pass via urine causing blood pressure to decrease.

We all know bananas are high in potassium, but there are many other foods that contain even higher amounts. Sweet potatoes and tomatoes are two common foods that pack a plentiful potassium punch. Just one small can of low sodium tomato juice provides 700mg/day. Fruits that provide good sources of potassium include: prunes, oranges, raisins, cantaloupe, and honeydew. There are also many vegetables that contain high amounts of potassium—swiss chard, kale, artichokes, brussel sprouts, beans, bok choy, beets, carrots, and broccoli. Dairy products also contain generous amounts of potassium. See the foods listed below for more details.

Potassium supplements are not recommended before consulting a doctor. Too much potassium can be dangerous by causing heart arrhythmias and possible complications for those with kidney problems.

I hope by reading this you will start considering the importance of potassium in your diet and the significant impact it has on controlling high blood pressure. Start by aiming to incorporate at least one or two high potassium foods at each meal and snack.

Banana, 1 medium, 425mg
Sweet Potato, 1/2 cup, 475mg
Tomatoes, 1 large, 431mg
Low Sodium Tomato Juice, 1 small can, 700mg
Prunes, 4 ea., 280mg
Oranges, 1 large, 333mg
Raisins, small box, 322mg
Cantaloupe, 1 cup, 427mg
Honeydew, 1 cup, 388mg
Swiss Chard, 1 cup, 961mg
Kale, 1 cup, 329mg
Artichoke, 1 medium, 474mg
Brussel Sprouts, 1 cup, 342mg
Lima Beans, 1/2 cup, 484mg
White Beans, 1/2 cup, 502 mg
Bok Choy, 1 cup, 631mg
Beets, 1 cup, 442mg
Carrots, 1 cup, 410mg
Broccoli, 1 cup, 288mg
Fat Free Yogurt, 1 cup, 625mg
Fat Free Milk, 1 cup, 382mg
Tuna, 5 oz, 458mg
Halibut, 5 oz, 480mg

References:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/MakeChangesThatMatter/How-Potassium-Can-Help-Control-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp#.WMvB93TyvNY

http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/potassium-lowers-blood-pressure

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?qlookup=11529

photo: Bananas (photo by silva_chuva –  Own work) https://www.flickr.com/photos/33666660@N00/218655094/