Fun Facts About Potassium

Karen Frazier
Sliced Bananas

Everyone's heard of potassium, but beyond knowing that bananas are a good source, what else is there? There are a number of foods rich in potassium.

Introducing Potassium (K)

Potassium is an electrolyte and can successfully counterbalance a diet rich in sodium. The mineral also impacts the body's muscles, mental alertness, and storage of energy.

Potassium's symbol is K and within the periodic table, it is found in the 1st group and 4th period. Its atomic number is 19, while its weight is 39.0983. It comprises 2.4% of the Earth's crust and is essential to all living things. It can be found in all plant and animal tissue.

Recommended Daily Allowance

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for potassium is 4,700 mg. It sounds like a lot, but potassium is abundant in a variety of foods -- in particular unprocessed fruits and vegetables. Thus, it's quite simple to meet the daily requirement. A baked potato, for instance, contains a whopping 900 mg of potassium. Did you know that this number is over 400 mg more than what is found in a banana? It's true, and it's just one fun fact about potassium.

Beyond Bananas

Bananas are a good place to start when discussing potassium. They have a reputation for being a very good source of the mineral, but in truth, there are many other foods with higher content. Perhaps the reason why bananas are so associated with K is that they're great for "on the go" situations, such as a late breakfast. It's much easier to grab a banana than bake a potato.

Potassium Rich Foods

You can get plenty of potassium by eating a varied diet. The following foods are good sources of potassium.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide a number of vitamins and minerals, including potassium.

Food Source Serving Size K Content
Avocado 3 ounces 540 mg
Winter squash, cooked 1/2 cup 340 mg
Cantaloupe 1 cup 494 mg
Artichoke hearts 1 cup 595 mg
Beet greens, cooked 1/2 cup 695 mg
Brussels sprouts 1 cup 5 mg
Spinach, cooked 1/2 cup 419 mg
Carrot 1 cup 354 mg
Raisins 1/4 cup 555 mg
Kiwi 1 medium 292 mg
Honeydew melon 1 cup 365 mg
Prunes, dried 10 prunes 615 mg
Dates 10 dates 542 mg
Orange 1 medium 237 mg
Broccoli 1 cup 456 mg
Parsnips, cooked 1 cup 573 mg
Tomato, chopped 1 cup 400 mg
Sweet potato, baked 1 medium 690 mg
Banana 1 medium 467 mg
Plantain, cooked 1 medium 720 mg
Potato, baked (with skin) 1 medium 900 mg
Tomato juice 3/4 cup 417 mg
Orange juice 1 cup 496 mg
Carrot juice 1 cup 689 mg
Prune juice 1 cup 707 mg

Nuts and Legumes

Nuts and legumes contain many nutrients, including healthy potassium.

Food Source Serving Size K Content
Lentils, cooked 1/2 cup 364 mg
Kidney beans, cooked 1/2 cup 358 mg
Lima beans, cooked 1/2 cup 500 mg
White beans, cooked 1/2 cup 595 mg
Black-eyed peas, cooked 1/2 cup 345 mg
Chickpeas 1/2 cup 238 mg
Soybeans, cooked 1/2 cup 443 mg
Almonds 2 ounces 412 mg
Peanuts 2 ounces 374 mg
Brazil nuts 2 ounces 350 mg

Meat and Fish

Many animal proteins serve as a rich source of potassium.

Food Source Serving Size K Content
Pork loin 3 ounces 382 mg
Trout 3 ounces 375 mg
Tuna 3 ounces 484 mg
Cod 3 ounces 438 mg
Halibut 3 ounces 390 mg
Clams, canned 3 ounces

534 mg

Dairy

Dairy products are rich in a number of minerals, including potassium and calcium.

Food Source Serving Size K Content
Plain nonfat yogurt 8 ounces 531 mg
Skim milk 1 cup 382 mg

Other

Blackstrap molasses is very high in potassium. It contains 498 mg per tablespoon.

Potassium Trivia

A veritable batch of "did you know?" facts that will easily peak the curiosity of young learners and really anyone interested in health.

Did You Know?

  • It is an alkali metal (Group 1A).
  • It is the second least dense metal in the group (lithium); so soft in fact that it can be sliced with a butter knife.
  • It turns silvery in appearance when first cut, but quickly oxidizes into gunmetal grey.
  • It melts at 63.38 °C, yet its boiling point is 759°C.
  • It is the seventh-most abundant mineral in the Earth's crust and the third-most abundant mineral in the human body.
  • It reacts violently with water, resulting in hydrogen; the hydrogen gas/solution is so potent it can ignite -- producing a marvelous purple-blue flame.
  • It does not occur in nature because of its violent reaction with water.
  • It is found in ocean waters, though less so than sodium.
  • It is used in gunpowder and fireworks (potassium nitrate).
  • It is one of 17 nutrients essential for plant growth; hence it is also found in fertilizer.
  • Its name originates from Potash or "pot ash."
  • Its symbol K is from Latin and stands for "Kalium."

Part of a Healthy Diet

Potassium is an essential mineral. Including an array of potassium rich foods in your diet contributes to good health.

Fun Facts About Potassium