Potassium is essential for good heart and muscle health, as well as for kidney function and the fight against osteoporosis. What foods should you put on your menu to get enough potassium every day? How to build 100% potassium meals? Answers from our nutrition expert.

Foods rich in potassium: where to find them?

What is the daily requirement of potassium?

Our daily potassium needs differ depending on our age. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends the following daily intakes:

•Infants from 7 to 11 months: 750 mg.

• Babies from 1 to 3 years: 800 mg.

• Children 4 to 6 years: 1100 mg.

• Children 7 to 10 years: 1800 mg.

• Adolescents from 11 to 14 years: 2 700 mg.

• Adolescents 15 to 17 years: 3,500 mg.

Adults: 3,500 mg.

• Nursing women: 4,000 mg.

Why do we need potassium?

Potassium is one of the most important minerals in our body. We have between 130 and 140 g of it. It is mainly found in our cells, and in a small percentage in the blood.

It regulates blood pressure

"The essential function of potassium is in the heart. It avoids the vasoconstriction of the blood vessels, it supports a good tension and a good circulation of blood in the arteries", specifies the dietician.

It is useful for muscles

Potassium is necessary for muscle contraction. Of course, we think of the cardiac muscle (the biggest one), but we must not forget the bronchial and intestinal muscles," says Aurore Lavergnat, dietician-nutritionist. It also allows to limit the risk of cramps and, for the sportsmen, to recover after the physical effort ".

It is useful to the nervous system

"Potassium acts as a catalyst to pass nerve transmissions in the muscles and throughout the body," says the dietitian.

It fights osteoporosis

Potassium is an alkalizing mineral that promotes a good acid-base balance in the body.

    This balance allows to avoid an excess of acidity which is harmful for the bones because it weakens them, explains Aurore Lavergnat, dietician-nutritionist.

Potassium also limits the risk of developing a pro-inflammatory disease such as diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, hypercholesterolemia ", warns Aurore Lavergnat.

It helps digestion

 "Potassium helps the enzymes to break down the nutrients in food into smaller pieces (lipids are transformed into fatty acids, proteins into amino acids...)," explains Aurore Lavergnat. By breaking down the nutrients, digestion is better

 How do you know if you have too much or too little potassium?

As with all minerals, it is important to have potassium but to keep it within the right range, i.e. between 130 and 200 mg/l of blood plasma.

What are the symptoms of a lack of potassium?

The lack of potassium is called hypokalemia. "It is extremely rare, reassures the dietician. It can occur in people with a kidney problem or anorexia, for example."  It is characterized by:

  •     Fatigue.
  •     Muscle cramps.
  •     Nausea.
  •     Constipation.
  •     Bloating.
  •     Frequent urination.
  •     Heart rhythm problems.
What are the symptoms of too much potassium?

While hypokalemia is rare, hyperkalemia (too much potassium) is more common.

    It is found in people suffering from renal failure, for example, says the dietician. The kidneys no longer play their role of filter.

The symptoms of too much potassium in the blood are similar to those of a lack. They include:

  •     A heart arrhythmia.
  •     A too high blood pressure.
  •     Respiratory problems.
  •     Muscle weakness.
  •     A decrease in reflexes. 

What to eat to fill up on potassium?

Certain foods such as coffee powder, meloukhia (a spice used to make a stew), chicory, nutritional yeast and potato chips are very rich in potassium. They contain between 1,260 mg and 3,600 mg per 100 g. But we only consume these products in small quantities, or they are not recommended as part of a balanced diet.

It is therefore better to turn to other foods (source 1):

25 potassium-rich foods

  •     Dried banana: 1,490 mg
  •     Dried apricot: 1400 mg
  •     Dried grapes: 960 mg
  •     Hazelnut: 860 mg
  •     Almond with skin: 800 mg
  •     Quinoa: 740 mg
  •     Pine nuts: 662 mg
  •     Prunes: 610 mg
  •     Parsley: 598 mg
  •     Dark Chocolate: 490 mg
  •     Avocado: 430 mg
  •     Nuts: 430 mg
  •     Spinach: 396 mg
  •     Potato: 390 mg
  •     Steamed tuna: 390 mg
  •     Pork: 378 mg
  •     Boiled Salmon: 347 mg
  •     Split peas: 327 mg
  •     Brussels sprouts: 324 mg
  •     Ground steak: 321 mg
  •     Beet: 320 mg
  •     Banana: 320 mg
  •     Ham: 313 mg
  •     Guava: 308 mg
  •     Kiwi: 290 mg
Foods that provide less potassium

In case of hyperkalemia, here are some foods that provide less potassium:

  •     refined cereals (rice, pasta, semolina)
  •     cooked carrots (195 mg/100 g)
  •     cooked leeks (180 mg/100 g),
  •     cooked zucchini (170 mg/100 g),
  •     cooked turnips (150 mg/100 g),
  •     cooked peppers (150 mg/100 g),
  •     cooked onions (115 mg/100 g). 

 A typical day to fill up on potassium

Aurore Lavergnat has composed two breakfasts, two lunches, two snacks and two dinners, each of which provides between 3,500 and 4,000 mg of potassium, i.e., the entire daily intake for an adult.

It's up to you to choose according to your tastes!

- Breakfast: wholemeal bread + butter + 1 ewe's milk yogurt with honey + 3 dried apricots + 1 tea or 1 coffee


A bowl of oatmeal + goat cheese with honey + 1 ramekin of raspberries and 30 hazelnuts or 30 almonds.

- Lunch: 1 full salad (shrimp, avocado, tomato, carrots and quinoa) + 2 kiwis


Beets with vinaigrette + 1 steak with steamed potatoes and spinach + 1 ramekin of guava.

- Snack: 1 banana + 2 or 3 squares of dark chocolate


1 ramekin of guava + 1 handful of almonds

- Dinner: 1 steamed salmon back + green beans and split peas, virgin olive oil sauce + 1 roasted peach with honey


Tuna in foil + quinoa with carrots + 1 banana

Good to know: cooking causes a slight loss of potassium, hence the importance of mixing raw and cooked foods during the day.


Source 1: Ciqual table, Anses