- Brian Bender, PhD
Foods High In Potassium (the Ultimate Ranking of Potassium Density)
Foods high in potassium are important for a healthy diet, especially for those individuals looking to lower their blood pressure.
Potassium itself helps blunt the hypertensive effects of dietary sodium and relax blood vessel walls. Both of these things are good for managing high blood pressure.
But foods high in potassium, as it turns out, are almost always good for you because they happen to be high in all of the other macro and micronutrients your body needs for good health.
But unfortunately, most of us don’t eat enough potassium. Here’s a breakdown for you to make sure you’re on the right track!
Foods High in Potassium are Part of a Healthy Diet
After analyzing about 600 foods from the USDA Food Database, we first ranked each one by its potassium density. This metric is a measure of the amount of potassium per calorie, so we can compare each food to each other fairly.
We color-coded the food items by food category. As you can see, vegetables overwhelmingly top the list of foods high in potassium density, particularly green leafy vegetables. Following closely behind are fruits.
The bottom of the list? Fast food items, cheeses, and breads.
Next, we analyzed another important metric for those with high blood pressure - the potassium-to-sodium ratio.
These numbers are represented by the dots in the chart below. Vegetables still occupy most of the top half of all food items.
But fruits and nuts now occupy a large percentage of the top of the list.
Fruits and nuts have a high potassium-to-sodium ratio and are good for health!
Again, near the bottom, are fast foods, cheeses, and breads. In fact, a good number to base this ratio off of is the number one. Those above 1, are generally better for you. Those below one, less so. And almost on queue, a potassium-to-sodium ratio of one (1) lies at the crossover between vegetables and fast foods.
A Simple Method for Assessing a Healthy Diet
These numbers are a great, simple method for assessing a healthy diet. If your eating lots of potassium (and in particular a diet with a high potassium-to-sodium ratio), you are necessarily eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Just what the doctor ordered!
In fact, research has shown that this ratio correlates to one of the healthiest diets you can find, the DASH Diet.
Tracking these numbers are a great way to monitor the health of your diet! (See how to track your sodium intake, here.)