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Heart Health

Putting potassium in perspective

September 1, 2022

Too little or too much of this mineral can be risky for your heart. Here’s how diet, medications, and kidney function affect potassium levels in your body.

photo of an assortment of foods that are good sources of potassium, including swweet potato, bananas, white beans, grape tomatoes, broccoli, avocado, and salmon

If you eat lots of vegetables, legumes, and fruits, you’re probably getting plenty of potassium in your diet. Many plant-based foods are not only rich in potassium (see "Good sources of potassium"), they’re also naturally low in sodium, both of which can help keep blood pressure in a normal range.

Alas, most Americans don’t pack enough produce into their daily fare and fall shy of the 3,500 to 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium recommended as a daily target. (Dairy products and fish are also good sources.) They also tend to eat far too much sodium, a well-known contributor to elevated blood pressure. High blood pressure is a potent risk factor for strokes and heart attacks.

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