Contents

8 Foods With More Potassium Than a Banana

Pictured recipe: Taco-Stuffed Avocados

When it comes to potassium, bananas may seem like the go-to food to get your fill of this mineral-one medium banana has around 420 mg, that’s 12 percent of your daily value. Found mainly in fruits and vegetables, potassium can help you ward off muscle cramps. It’s also important for keeping your heart healthy and your blood pressure in a healthy range. That’s because potassium helps counteract the blood pressure-raising effect of sodium. But bananas aren’t the only potassium superstars. Here are 8 potassium-rich foods with more potassium per serving than a banana and flavorful recipes to enjoy them.

Related: Healthy Recipes for Potassium-Rich Foods

1. Salmon

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Pictured recipe: Edamame & Salmon Stir-Fry with Miso Butter

Salmon: 4 ounces = 15 percent daily value.

Salmon is known as a heart-healthy food because it is rich in omega-3s. The potassium in salmon helps your heart also, so there is even more reason to reach for this fish.

Get More: Quick & Easy Salmon Recipes

2. Avocado

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Pictured recipe: Jason Mraz’s Guacamole

1/2 cup mashed avocado = 16 percent daily value.

Avocados are also known for having heart-healthy fats. One serving is 1/3 of an avocado, which delivers 75 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. Research points to the weight-loss benefits of eating avocados regularly. People who regularly eat avocado (about a half of one daily, which contains more potassium than a whole banana) are more likely to have smaller waists and weigh less, say researchers who analyzed over 17,000 American diets. Another study found that eating half an avocado for lunch helped people feel full for up to 5 hours after the meal.

Get More: Healthy Avocado Recipes

3. Yogurt

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Pictured recipe: Raspberry Yogurt with Dark Chocolate.

1 cup non-fat plain yogurt = 18 percent daily value.

In addition to potassium, yogurt also delivers probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. When you buy yogurt, choose plain over flavored to save yourself lots of added sugar.

Get more: Healthy Recipes with Yogurt

4. Baked Acorn Squash

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Pictured recipe: Moroccan Chickpea-Stuffed Acorn Squash.

1 cup cubed acorn squash = 26 percent daily value.

Acorn squash is high in fiber, an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and also provides vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K and potassium.

Related: Healthy Winter Squash Recipes

5. Dried Apricots

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Pictured recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Apricots

1/2 cup dried apricots = 22 percent daily value.

This humble and sweet dried fruit is a great way to get in your potassium. Dried apricots are easy to find, unlike fresh, which have a very short season. 1/2 cup of dried apricots also delivers 5 grams of heart-healthy fiber.

More recipes: Healthy Apricot Recipes

6. Baked Potato (with skin)

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Pictured recipe: Roasted Chicken Thighs, Potatoes & Scallions with Herb Vinaigrette

1 medium potato = 26 percent daily value.

Potatoes have a bad reputation but they are a healthy and delicious nutrient-packed vegetable, especially if you eat the skin. One medium potato has only 160 calories and delivers the minerals magnesium and phosphorus in addition to potassium.

Related: Healthy Baked Potato Recipes

7. White Beans

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Pictured recipe: White Bean Salad with Cheddar, Bacon & Walnuts

1/2 cup white beans = 17 percent daily value.

Beans are a great source of plant-based protein and are also high in fiber. Protein and fiber are both satisfying and help fill you up.

8. Dark Leafy Greens

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Pictured recipe: One-Pot Italian Sausage & Kale Pasta.

1 cup cooked spinach = 24 percent daily value.

Dark leafy greens are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, so it’s no surprise that they are also a good source of potassium. Dark leafy greens are also high in calcium, vitamin C and vitamin K.

Related: Healthy Recipes for Greens

Related:

Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Potassium and What to Do About It

7-Day Meal Plan for Healthy Blood Pressure

EatingWell.com, March 2017

Benefits and health risks of bananas

Share on PinterestBananas are high in potassium and contain good levels of protein and dietary fiber.

The following sections explain some of the possible health benefits of bananas.

The nutrition information comes from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) FoodData Central database.

Daily requirements are from the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are for adults, but they are approximate, as the values vary according to a person’s age and sex.

Blood pressure

The American Heart Association (AHA) encourage people to lower their intake of salt, or sodium, and increase their consumption of foods that contain potassium. Potassium can help manage blood pressure and reduce strain on the cardiovascular system.

A medium banana provides almost 9% of a person’s daily potassium needs, according to the nutritional information from the above sources.

Asthma

A 2007 study suggested that eating bananas might help prevent wheezing in children with asthma. One reason for this could be the antioxidant and potassium content of bananas. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Cancer

Laboratory investigations have suggested that lectin, a protein that occurs in bananas, may help prevent leukemia cells from growing.

Lectin acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help the body remove molecules known as free radicals. If too many free radicals build up, cell damage can occur, potentially leading to cancer.

In 2004, researchers noted that children who consumed bananas, orange juice, or both appeared to have a lower risk of developing leukemia.

The study authors suggested that this could be due to the vitamin C content, as this, too, has antioxidant properties.

Heart health

Bananas contain fiber, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C. All of these support heart health.

A 2017 review found that people who follow a high fiber diet have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those on a low fiber diet. Those who consumed more fiber also had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.

Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association recommend eating bananas and other fruit as they contain fiber. They note that eating fiber can help lower blood sugar levels.

The author of a 2018 review concluded that eating a high fiber diet could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and may lower blood sugar in those who already have the disease.

Digestive health

Bananas contain water and fiber, both of which promote regularity and encourage digestive health. One medium banana provides approximately 10% of a person’s fiber needs for a day.

Bananas are also part of an approach known as the BRAT diet, which some doctors recommend for treating diarrhea. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

Diarrhea can lead to a loss of water and electrolytes, such as potassium. Bananas can replace these nutrients.

High fiber foods can trigger bloating, gas, and stomach cramps in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a 2012 study. However, bananas may improve symptoms, the authors concluded.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America recommend banana as a snack food in their diet plan.

Preserving memory and boosting mood

Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that may help preserve memory, boost a person’s ability to learn and remember things, and regulate mood.

This article was medically reviewed by Marjorie Cohn, MS, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on May 6, 2019.

When you think about all of the nutrients your body needs, your mind might jump to protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin D, or even omega-3s. But potassium? The essential electrolyte probably gets swept to the sidelines.

Here’s why it shouldn’t: Potassium helps your nerves and muscles communicate with one another, moves other nutrients into your cells, and keeps your sodium levels in check. Not getting enough of the stuff can cause high blood pressure (thanks to its close relationship with salt) and increase your risk of kidney stones, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The good news is, you can find more than enough potassium in all sorts of foods. But if you default to bananas, not so fast. While each medium banana has 422 milligrams (mg) of the mineral—or about 9 percent of your 4,700 mg recommended daily value (DV)—you can easily find more in other fruits and vegetables.

Case in point: Ahead you’ll find 16 foods that pack more potassium than a banana.

mama mia/

Sweet potato

A medium baked sweet potato has 542 mg (12% DV) of potassium. These tubers are also rich in vitamin A for your eyes, vitamin C for your skin, and gut-filling fiber. They also just happen to be ridiculously tasty.

Try it: Bacon-and-Egg Stuffed Sweet Potato recipe

qanatstudio/

White potato

Surprise, surprise: A single medium baked potato has 941 mg (20% DV) of potassium. You’ve probably been conditioned to fear these spuds, but when prepared the right way (baked or boiled instead of deep fried), they’re low in calories, fat, and sodium. Plus, white potatoes offer a healthy dose of vitamin C and magnesium, too. Let your spud cool before you eat it and you’ll get a dose of gut-friendly resistant starch.

Try it: Potato Salad recipe

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Tomato sauce

This plain old pasta topper is a secret source of potassium, with 728 mg (15% DV) in each cup. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, a disease-fighting plant pigment that gives certain fruits and vegetables their signature red hue. Look for a low-sugar tomato sauce sold in BPA-free packaging.

Try it: Cucina Antica Tomato Basil Cooking Sauce

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Watermelon

Nosh on two refreshing watermelon wedges, and you’ll get 641 mg (14% DV) of potassium. Watermelon is also a great source of lycopene, as well as vitamins A, C, and B6. Plus, more than 90 percent of the fruit is water, so you’ll feel full after snacking for very little calories. And if you rather sip the stuff? Cold-pressed watermelon juice is a great alternative.

Try it: 12-ounce bottle of WTRMLN WTR

agnes kantaruk/

Frozen spinach

Add 1 cup of frozen spinach to your next stir-fry or pasta dish and you’ll get a respectable 540 mg (11% DV) of potassium. Spinach is also rich in magnesium, vitamin A, and calcium. Bonus: It’s crazy inexpensive—usually much cheaper than fresh veggies.

Try it: Garlic Spinach, Edamame, and Tomato recipe

africa studio/

Beets

A cup of cooked, sliced beets delivers 518 mg (11% DV) of potassium, while a 1-ounce serving of beet chips has an impressive 90 mg. One snack to try: Rhythm Superfoods Naked Beet Chips. The sweet root vegetables are super versatile, though, and can be used in everything from salads to juices to soups.

And there’s a reason athletes are all about beetroot juice lately: In a 2017 review, researchers concluded that drinking the stuff 90 minutes before your workout could boost performance. (Just don’t freak out if they turn your pee pink or red afterward. It’s totally normal, we promise.)

Try it: Roasted Beets With Herbs and Garlic recipe

looker studio/

Black beans

Chances are you’re already buying canned black beans for a boost in fiber and protein—two nutrients that keep you feeling full longer. However, they’re also a great source of potassium. Eat one cup and you’ll get 739 mg (16% DV) of the mineral. Black beans also offer some calcium, magnesium, and folate.

Try it: 15-Minute Black Bean Soup recipe

denio109/

White beans

White beans might be the best source of potassium in the grocery store: A single cup has a whopping 1,189 mg. That’s a full quarter of what you need every day. That same 1-cup serving also packs an impressive 20 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber.

Try it: Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes and White Beans recipe

moving moment/

Canned salmon

Canned salmon is a lazy cook’s dream. Pop open one 5-ounce can and you’ll get 487 mg (10% DV) of potassium. What’s more, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats for your eye, heart, and brain health that your body can’t make on its own. Salmon is also high in B vitamins, which aid in the production of red blood cells and convert the food you eat into energy. On top of that, salmon is a great source of lean protein—perfect for those trying to lose weight or build muscle.

Try it: Quick Salmon Burrito recipe

mario velloso/

Edamame

Whole soybeans are one of the world’s greatest sources of plant-based protein, but that’s not the only trick up their sleeve: 1 cup also supplies 676 mg (14% DV) of potassium. Eat them as a snack, toss ’em in a salad, or serve them up as a side dish.

Try it: Corn, Mango, and Edamame Salad recipe

aleksandrs lisics/

Butternut squash

One cup of this slightly sweet fall favorite packs 582 mg (12% DV) of potassium. You’ll also get a hefty dose of vitamin A, along with some vitamin C, magnesium, folate, and calcium.

Try it: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese recipe

aspen rock/

Swiss chard

One cup of cooked chard has a whopping 961 mg (20% DV) of potassium. These hearty greens also pack calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Try it: Breakfast Skillet with Egg, Onion, and Tomato recipe

olena kaminetska/

Yogurt

Regular plain yogurt (not the Greek stuff) has an impressive 573 mg (12% DV) of potassium per cup. Plus, it packs nearly half your daily calcium needs. Look for one that contains live active cultures, so you’ll get a nice dose of gut-friendly probiotics, too.

Try it: Hearty Oatmeal and Greek Yogurt recipe

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Avocado

Avocados provide a whopping 507 mg of potassium per 3.5 ounces. Moreover, they are a great source of healthy fats and fiber. Avocados lend a nice creaminess to recipes. You can enjoy it over toast, create a delicious pasta sauce, or whip it into a flavorful salad dressing.

Try it: Shrimp, Avocado, and Egg Chopped Salad recipe

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Coconut Water

Store-bought coconut water packs a powerful punch of potassium, delivering about 350 mg per 8 fluid ounces. It makes a great alternative to sugary sports drinks and a delicious base for post-workout smoothies. Just be sure to buy the unsweetened versions to avoid added sugar.

Try it: ZICO 100% Natural Coconut Water

Getty Images

Dried Apricots

Dried apricots supply 430 mg of potassium per 6-piece serving, giving you a big nutritional bang for your buck. Remember to choose unsweetened versions at the grocery store to avoid loading up on extra sugar. We like to chop dried apricots and incorporate them into homemade granola bars and trail mixes.

Try it: Dried Apricot and Currant Scones recipe

Food Sources of Potassium

Many of the foods that you already eat contain potassium. The foods listed below are high in potassium. If you need to boost the amount of potassium in your diet, make healthy food choices by picking items below to add to your menu.

Many fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium:

  • Bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit (some dried fruits, such as prunes, raisins, and dates, are also high in potassium)
  • Cooked spinach
  • Cooked broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Pumpkins
  • Leafy greens

Juice from potassium-rich fruit is also a good choice:

  • Orange juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Prune juice
  • Apricot juice
  • Grapefruit juice

Certain dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, are high in potassium (low-fat or fat-free is best).

Some fish contain potassium:

  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Trout
  • Rockfish

Beans or legumes that are high in potassium include:

  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils

Other foods that are rich in potassium include:

  • Salt substitutes (read labels to check potassium levels)
  • Molasses
  • Nuts
  • Meat and poultry
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Bran cereal
  • Whole-wheat bread and pasta

Appendix 10. Food Sources of Potassium

Table A10-1. Potassium: Food Sources Ranked by Amounts of Potassium and Energy per Standard Food Portions and per 100 Grams of Foods

Food Standard Portion Size Calories in Standard Portiona Potassium in Standard Portion (mg)a Calories per 100 gramsa Potassium per 100 grams (mg)a
Potato, baked, flesh and skin 1 medium 163 941 94 544
Prune juice, canned 1 cup 182 707 71 276
Carrot juice, canned 1 cup 94 689 40 292
Passion-fruit juice, yellow or purple 1 cup 126-148 687 51-60 278
Tomato paste, canned ¼ cup 54 669 82 1,014
Beet greens, cooked from fresh ½ cup 19 654 27 909
Adzuki beans, cooked ½ cup 147 612 128 532
White beans, canned ½ cup 149 595 114 454
Plain yogurt, nonfat 1 cup 127 579 56 255
Tomato puree ½ cup 48 549 38 439
Sweet potato, baked in skin 1 medium 103 542 90 475
Salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked 3 ounces 155 534 182 628
Clams, canned 3 ounces 121 534 142 628
Pomegranate juice 1 cup 134 533 54 214
Plain yogurt, low-fat 8 ounces 143 531 63 234
Tomato juice, canned 1 cup 41 527 17 217
Orange juice, fresh 1 cup 112 496 45 200
Soybeans, green, cooked ½ cup 127 485 141 539
Chard, swiss, cooked ½ cup 18 481 20 549
Lima beans, cooked ½ cup 108 478 115 508
Mackerel, various types, cooked 3 ounces 114-171 443-474 134-201 521-558
Vegetable juice, canned 1 cup 48 468 19 185
Chili with beans, canned ½ cup 144 467 112 365
Great northern beans, canned ½ cup 150 460 114 351
Yam, cooked ½ cup 79 456 116 670
Halibut, cooked 3 ounces 94 449 111 528
Tuna, yellowfin, cooked 3 ounces 111 448 130 527
Acorn squash, cooked ½ cup 58 448 56 437
Snapper, cooked 3 ounces 109 444 128 522
Soybeans, mature, cooked ½ cup 149 443 173 515
Tangerine juice, fresh 1 cup 106 440 43 178
Pink beans, cooked ½ cup 126 430 149 508
Chocolate milk (1%, 2% and whole) 1 cup 178-208 418-425 71-83 167-170
Amaranth leaves, cooked ½ cup 14 423 21 641
Banana 1 medium 105 422 89 358
Spinach, cooked from fresh or canned ½ cup 21-25 370-419 23 346-466
Black turtle beans, cooked ½ cup 121 401 130 433
Peaches, dried, uncooked ¼ cup 96 399 239 996
Prunes, stewed ½ cup 133 398 107 321
Rockfish, Pacific, cooked 3 ounces 93 397 109 467
Rainbow trout, wild or farmed, cooked 3 ounces 128-143 381-383 150-168 448-450
Skim milk (nonfat) 1 cup 83 382 34 156
Refried beans, canned, traditional ½ cup 106 380 89 319
Apricots, dried, uncooked ¼ cup 78 378 241 1162
Pinto beans, cooked ½ cup 123 373 143 436
Lentils, cooked ½ cup 115 365 116 369
Avocado ½ cup 120 364 160 485
Tomato sauce, canned ½ cup 30 364 24 297
Plantains, slices, cooked ½ cup 89 358 116 465
Kidney beans, cooked ½ cup 113 357 127 403
Navy beans, cooked ½ cup 128 354 140 389

aSource: U.S Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2014. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27. Available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata.

Just like sodium, potassium must stay balanced in your body. If your kidneys are not working well, potassium levels in your blood can rise. High potassium levels affect your heart rhythm, so your diet for managing kidney disease may include a potassium limit. Your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist will let you know if you need to avoid foods high in potassium, and your RDN can explain how to stay within your limit.

Potassium is found in many fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and dairy foods.

High-Potassium Foods

These foods contain more than 200 milligrams potassium per half-cup serving.

  • Apricots (2 medium)
  • Artichokes (1 medium)
  • Avocados (1/4 each)
  • Bananas (1 medium)
  • Beets and beet greens (cooked)
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dates
  • Nectarines (1 each)
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Potato chips
  • Prunes and prune juice
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach (cooked)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss chard (cooked)
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Vegetable juice

Lower-Potassium Foods

These foods contain less than 100 milligrams potassium per half-cup serving.

  • Applesauce
  • Blueberries
  • Cabbage
  • Cranberries
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Watermelon

Learn more about kidney disease and diet.

Food & Snack Sources of Potassium

Potassium is one of the essential minerals necessary for maintaining good health at every age and in every stage of life. Potassium is a type of electrolyte – a substance that can break down into charged atoms called ions to facilitate electrical transmissions needed for cells to communicate with one another. Your body needs potassium to facilitate normal muscle movement, to manage the passage of fluids and other minerals into and out of your cells, and to help regulate blood pressure. Some studies indicate a balanced intake of potassium may also help reduce the risks of osteoporosis, strokes and kidney stone formation (Linus Pauling Institute , 2010; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2014).

Getting the Potassium you Need

Potassium is essential for many crucial functions in the body, but are you getting enough? According to the Institutes of Medicine (IOM), the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of potassium is 4700 mg for adolescents and adults age 14 years and up. Breastfeeding women need a little more – about 5100 mg per day (LPI, 2010; Institute of Medicine, n.d.).

Unfortunately, government data indicate less than 2 percent of adults in the U.S. get the recommended daily amounts of potassium, which means they’re at risk for a whole host of medical problems associated with potassium deficiency. In fact, most adults in the U.S. get about half the recommended daily value (DV) for the mineral (Cogswell et al., 2012).

What Happens if You Don’t Get Enough Potassium?

Not getting enough potassium can have serious consequences for your health. Though extremely uncommon, chronically low levels of potassium can result in a medical condition called hypokalemia. People who have hypokalemia can experience symptoms like abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure and muscle weakness.

While hypokalemia can affect anyone, it’s more likely to occur in people who:

  • Take diuretics (also referred to as “water pills”) for treatment of high blood pressure or heart failure
  • Take a lot of laxatives/
  • Abuse alcohol
  • Have anorexia or bulimia
  • Have diseases or disorders affecting the kidneys or the adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys
  • Have a prolonged period of vomiting or severe diarrhea (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2014)

Although you can take supplements to boost your levels of potassium, supplements have been associated with gastrointestinal problems, including: belly cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, and development of a serious condition known as hyperkalemia that can cause dangerous arrhythmias. The best way to make sure you’re getting enough potassium is to add some foods that are rich in potassium, including potassium-rich snacks, to your diet (LPI, 2010; Cogswell et al., 2012).

High-potassium foods

Plant-based foods are excellent sources of potassium. Some of the best ways to meet your daily target intake of potassium is to eat the following foods:

  • Bananas: 422 mg potassium per medium banana
  • Prune juice: 528 mg per 6-ounce serving
  • Potato: 926 mg per medium potato (including skin)
  • Orange juice: 372 mg per 6-ounce serving
  • Prunes: 637 mg per ½ cup
  • Raisins: 598 mg per ½ cup
  • Lima beans: 485 mg per ½ cup
  • Spinach: 420 mg per ½ cup (cooked)
  • Sunflower seeds: 241 mg per ounce

Dried apricots and almonds are also sources of potassium that are easy to incorporate into a healthy snacking routine. Other sources of the mineral include sweet potatoes, oranges, tomatoes and tomato juice. But if you’re looking for a top source of potassium that’s easy to snack on anytime of day, look no farther than delectable, crispy banana chips.

Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium- and, unlike fresh bananas that have a limited shelf life, banana chips stay fresh for a long, long time. Plus, they don’t bruise or become soft and damaged when packed in a pocket, purse or briefcase. Banana trail mixes – with or without chocolate – are tasty, crunchy and packed with nutrients, including potassium, magnesium and iron (LPI, 2010).

Dried fruits, nuts and trail mixes are powerhouses of nutrition, and because the ingredients don’t need refrigeration, they’re among the most convenient natural sources of vital minerals you can find. Keep some on hand at home, in your purse or briefcase, and in your desk drawer for a boost of natural nutrition you can snack on anytime and anywhere. Additionally, dehydrating fruits doesn’t damage the nutritional content of the food- but rather serves to make the pieces more calorically and nutritionally dense (Campbell, 2015).

To ensure you get enough potassium, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Consuming snacks of dried fruits or seeds is a good way to help you get enough. For specific recommendations, peruse the recipes and snack recommendations provided below.

High-Potassium Recommended Recipes

Adding potassium is easy when your favorite foods provide a rich supply in the form of a tasty treat. Check out these recipes that offer an abundance of the mineral in every serving and that are as easy to make as they are easy to eat!

Protein-Packed Detox Smoothie Recipe {vegan}

A scrumptious source of nearly all the nutrients you need, this simple smoothie tastes great and is ideal for a post-workout snack. Add this recipe card to your collection and enjoy daily!
Ingredients: Almond milk, frozen banana, spirulina, hemp protein powder (optional), fresh mint, chia seeds, hemp hearts.
Total Time: 5 minutes | Yield: 2 servings

Farro Vegetable Salad Recipe

This delicious salad will soon become a staple in your household with a powerful palate that you’ll love. Each serving also supplies 22% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium!
Ingredients: Organic farro, sun dried tomatoes, frozen corn (thawed), scallions, black olives, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, salt, fresh dill, fresh mint, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 6 servings

Veggie Quinoa Casserole Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

Searching for a hearty meal that is totally free of both gluten and animal products? This incredible recipe offers all these in an absolutely scrumptious plate that you’re sure to love!
Ingredients: Quinoa, extra firm tofu, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, paprika, cumin, oregano, thyme, salt.
Total Time: 35 minutes | Yield: 4 – 5 servings

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Recipe {gluten-free}

A mouthwatering meal that can be enjoyed as a main course or a hearty selection at parties, this dish supplies a whopping 1278 mg of potassium per serving, accounting for 29% of the DV!
Ingredients: Quinoa, green bell peppers, canned lentils, fresh spinach, feta cheese, frozen corn (thawed), salt, black pepper.
Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 6 servings (8 half-peppers)

Recommended Snacks Packed with Potassium

Including a wide variety of leafy greens, citrus fruits, grapes, berries, and root vegetables can help your body get the potassium it needs every day. Check out this list of potassium-rich snacks and foods selected by our Health Nut and Registered Dietitian:

Dried Apricots

$8.99/lb

These sweet treats contain no added sugar and are rich in vitamin A and fiber. In fact, each serving contains 4 grams of dietary fiber- and a quarter-cup proffers an impressive 377 milligrams of potassium (USDA, n.d.).

Dried Peaches

$10.99/lb

These delectable dried peaches are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and- you guessed it- potassium! A quarter-cup contains 391 milligrams of the mineral, and each serving also supplies 3 grams of fiber (USDA, n.d.)!

Organic Jumbo Plums (Prunes)

$12.99/lb

Another quarter-cup of fruit that provides potassium- prunes proffer a healthy helping of 349 milligrams while also supplying a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber (USDA, n.d.).

Natural Dried Bananas

$6.99/lb

You’ll go bananas for these naturally delicious fruit bites. Our dried bananas have no sugar added and can be enjoyed as a snack or chopped up and added to cereal or oatmeal. Plus, a quarter-cup of these treats contains 373 milligrams of potassium!

Jumbo Thompson Seedless Raisins

$5.99/lb

A quarter-cup of raisins contains 340 milligrams of potassium (USDA, n.d.). Raisins are great when mixed with nuts, eaten alone, or used to create a wholesome snack with peanut butter and celery. For a clever twist that’s just as wholesome as traditional ants on a log, substitute the celery stalk for a scrumptious serving of sliced apples.

Organic Red Lentils

$4.99/lb

There are 320 milligrams of potassium in each quarter-cup of dried pink or red lentils (USDA, n.d.). Lentils are protein-packed and are a great addition to soups and stews. The luscious legumes also work great as a side dish. A serving of lentils also contains 11 grams of protein!

Roasted Pistachios (Unsalted, In Shell)

$11.99/lb

These palatable nuts are a powerhouse of nutrition, and part of their impressive profile of vitamins and minerals includes its offering of 309 milligrams in each quarter-cup. Not only are these bits scrumptious on their own as snacks, but they also make idyllic additions to salads or trail mixes (USDA, n.d.)!

Organic Adzuki Beans

These beans contain 612 milligrams of potassium per half-cup of cooked beans (USDA, n.d.) for an incredible source of the mineral that is easy to eat as a side, salad topping, or ingredient for soups and chili. Each serving of the beans also contains an impressive 6 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein.

Getting Enough Potassium

Topic Overview

Why is potassium important?

Your body needs potassium to help your muscles contract, maintain fluid balance, and maintain a normal blood pressure. Normal potassium levels in the body help to keep the heart beating regularly. Potassium may help reduce your risk of kidney stones and also bone loss as you age.

Healthy kidneys keep the right amount of potassium in the blood to keep the heart beating at a steady pace. If you have kidney disease, potassium levels can rise and affect your heartbeat. Be sure to talk with your health professional to determine if you should restrict your intake of foods that contain large amounts of potassium.

What is the recommended daily amount of potassium?

Most people do not get enough potassium.

Recommended potassium by age footnote 1

Age (years)

Recommended potassium intake (milligrams a day)

1–3

3,000

4–8

3,800

9–13

4,500

14 and older

4,700

Women who are breastfeeding

5,100

Women who are pregnant need the same amount of potassium as other women their age.

How can you get more potassium?

Potassium is in many foods, including vegetables, fruits, and milk products. You can figure out how much potassium is in a food by looking at the percent daily value section on the nutrition facts label. The food label assumes the daily value of potassium is 3,500 mg. So if one serving of a food has a daily value of 20% of potassium, that food has 700 mg of potassium in one serving. Potassium is not required to be listed on a food label, but it can be listed.

Estimates of potassium in certain foods footnote 2, footnote 3

Food

Serving size

Potassium amount (milligrams)

Spinach

½ cup

420 mg

Sweet potato

450 mg

Plain nonfat yogurt

6 oz

260 mg

Banana

425 mg

Broccoli

½ cup

230 mg

Cantaloupe

½ cup

215 mg

Tomato, fresh

1 fruit

290 mg

Milk (fat-free, low-fat, whole, buttermilk)

8 ounces

350–380 mg

Tips for adding potassium foods to your healthy diet:

  • Add spinach or other leafy greens to your sandwiches.
  • Toss fresh or dried apricots into plain nonfat yogurt for a snack.
  • Enjoy a cup of low-sodium bean soup for lunch.
  • Eat a small baked potato or sweet potato instead of bread at dinner.

Are there any risks from potassium?

A potassium level that is too high or too low can be serious. Abnormal potassium levels may cause symptoms such as muscle cramps or weakness, nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, dehydration, low blood pressure, confusion, irritability, paralysis, and changes in heart rhythm. Potassium supplements are prescribed by a doctor, usually after testing for potassium in the blood or potassium in urine. Do not start taking potassium supplements on your own.

People who have kidney disease and/or take blood pressure medicines such as ACE inhibitors should find out from a doctor if they should avoid foods high in potassium.

Low-potassium foods include:

  • Blueberries.
  • Cucumber.
  • Raspberries.
  • White or brown rice.
  • Spaghetti and macaroni.

10 Foods High in Potassium

High-potassium foods are an essential part of any balanced diet. The mineral helps regulate your body’s fluid levels, aids in muscular function and waste removal, and keeps your nervous system functioning properly. Research shows that potassium reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and may lower the risk for stroke.

“It’s essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and keeps your heart beating regularly,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a New York Times bestselling author and nutrition expert in Brooklyn, New York. “This electrolyte is necessary for muscle contractions and also helps keep sodium levels in check. Many of us don’t get enough potassium each day, so focusing on adding potassium-rich foods to our diets is smart for overall health.”

If your potassium levels are too low, a condition known as hypokalemia, it can result in fatigue, insomnia, depression, muscular weakness or cramping, and cardiovascular issues such as an abnormal heart rhythm. Hypokalemia can be due to a lack of potassium in your diet, though more commonly it’s the result of taking certain prescription medications. While low potassium in the body is a concern, it’s also possible to get too much, leading to blood potassium levels that are too high — called hyperkalemia. This is something you need to be especially aware of if you have kidney problems.

The kidneys help regulate the amount of potassium in your body, but if they’re not functioning properly, too much potassium can get into the bloodstream, causing weakness or numbness, and potentially, arrhythmia and heart attack. A variety of medications, such as ACE inhibitors, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and certain diuretics, can also bring potassium levels too high. Though some people need to avoid eating too many foods that are high in potassium, most healthy adults should aim for an intake of about 4,700 milligrams (mg) a day.

When people think of potassium in foods, they often think first of bananas. And yes, bananas are indeed a good source of the nutrient, but there are plenty of other colorful, tasty, and nutritious ways to work the right amount of potassium into a healthy diet. To help you do that, we’ve come up with some options, such as sun-dried tomatoes tossed into a salad or on top of a pizza, dried apricots and other fruits made for snacking, avocado smoothies, and roasted acorn squash. Leafy greens, beans, potatoes, fish, and dairy are some additional great ways to get the potassium you need.

Banana Bread

This recipe is healthful by using potassium rich bananas, honey for flavor and whole-wheat pastry flour.

Native to the Caribbean and Central America, bananas are one of America’s favorite fruits. They are rich in potassium – one banana contains 450 mg of potassium, one-fifth of the adult daily requirement – and offer a fair share of magnesium (33 mg), too. In addition, bananas help to strengthen the stomach lining and are good for soothing indigestion. Most banana bread recipes are saturated with butter and sugar. This one uses a small amount of canola oil instead – which is much better for your heart – and honey, which of course means lots of flavor. Don’t use regular whole-wheat flour. It is too heavy for this recipe. Look for whole-wheat pastry flour instead.

Food as Medicine

Bananas have two stomach-protective mechanisms. First, they help the stomach lining to produce a thicker mucus barrier to protect against stomach acids. Second, compounds in bananas called protease inhibitors can help reduce bacteria in the stomach that have been shown to promote ulcers.

How Many Calories Are in a Banana? 9 Things You Likely Didn’t Know About the Fruit

Of all fruits, bananas have the worst reputation. People say they’re too carbohydrate-rich, have too much sugar, or contain too many calories. There’s an entire movement dedicated to making banana-less smoothies because of these worries. But can you still eat them — even if you’re trying to lose weight? Yes and yes. Here’s the truth about what this sweet and creamy fruit will do to — and for — your body.

1. How Many Calories Are in a Banana?

One medium banana (about seven inches long) comes in at 105 calories. “A banana is a perfect 100-calorie snack,” says Jennifer Davis, RDN, a regional supervisor of medical nutrition and dietary services for Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu, Hawaii.

2. What’s Actually in a Banana?

Well, it is mostly carbs — and that’s actually a great thing. (One medium banana packs 27 grams of carbs.) “Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for muscles. You need them for your body to run on,” says Davis. A larger banana might equal two slices of bread, while a small would be equivalent to an apple or orange.

RELATED: 5 Tricks for Getting Enough Fruit and Veggies

3. Are Bananas Filled With Sugar?

Yes, they do have some sugar in them — 14 g — but this sugar is wrapped up in a healthful package of 3 g of fiber and even 1 g of protein. Bananas are fat-free, and they don’t contain the added sugar that’s found in energy bars, cookies, and candy — the kind of sugar that can lead to health problems.

“A high intake of fiber helps fill you up and move your bowels,” says Davis, adding that fiber may even protect against certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer. Research published in August 2015 by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition backs that up. Davis says that along with the naturally occurring sugar, you also get small amounts of other nutrients, like vitamin C, magnesium, folate, vitamin A, and iron. Bananas are also rife with disease-fighting antioxidants, suggests a review published in September 2016 in Food Chemistry.

4. What About the Potassium Content in Bananas?

You’ve long heard that bananas are great sources of the mineral potassium. “This is an electrolyte that most of us don’t get enough of. It helps your muscles contract and your heart beat,” says Davis. She explains that both sodium and potassium work together to move fluid in and out of your cells, and research shows that potassium is key to balancing your blood pressure. In fact, a study published in April 2017 in the American Journal of Physiology concluded that increasing the amount of potassium eaten in the context of nutritious, natural sources can reduce blood pressure, and therefore have an impact on lowering the risk of heart and kidney disease.

RELATED: 10 Foods High in Potassium

5. Should You Eat Bananas Before a Workout?

Yes! Because of a banana’s benefits to muscle function, it may be what you need to get through exercise. A study published in May 2012 in the journal PLoS One concluded that eating a banana during a workout was just as effective as an energy drink in terms of boosting performance. Besides, “a banana is a healthier source of potassium than an energy drink,” says Davis.

6. Should You Eat a Banana if Your Stomach Hurts?

Definitely. According to a December 2014 article in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, bananas contain soluble fiber, which is known to help ease or prevent gas pain and constipation. Also, their potassium helps to stabilize sodium levels, reducing bloating, according to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Letter.

7. Should You Pair Your Banana With Something Else?

Not necessarily. But if you have type 2 diabetes, you may want to eat it with a protein source, like nut butter, to help you feel fuller and potentially increase your chances for weight loss success. You can also add a mashed banana into cooked quinoa (which contains protein) for breakfast. If you have diabetes, know that bananas furthermore contain a type of fiber called resistant starch, which lowers your blood sugar response — one study published in January 2017 in Nutrition Bulletin showed that foods containing resistant starch like bananas may be particularly beneficial for those who have diabetes.

8. Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Eating Bananas?

Most people could safely eat up to six or seven bananas a day, says Davis. (But unless you’re participating in a food eating contest, you’re probably not doing that.)

However, if you have a condition where taking in too much potassium can be dangerous (like chronic kidney disease), you’ll want to talk to your healthcare provider about what is safe for you.

Likewise, if you’re taking certain medications, like beta-blockers, which can interact with higher potassium levels, you also want to check with your doctor, says Davis. According to the American Heart Association, beta-blockers are just one of the heart disease drugs associated with hyperkalemia, also called high potassium. Others include diuretics and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors). Be sure to check with your doctor if you’re downing multiple bananas (or other foods high in potassium) regularly.

RELATED: 10 Superfoods for Heart Health

9. Are Bananas a Good Choice if You Want to Lose Weight?

Yes! A review published in October 2016 in Nutrients found that fruit intake was protective against weight gain and obesity, supporting the conventional wisdom that it’s important to include a variety of fruit in your diet, bananas among them. Davis recommends eating a banana before a meal. The fiber will help fill you up so you have less room for what follows. You can also use mashed bananas to replace the oil in baked goods and decrease the calories, Davis points out. And you can freeze a banana, chop it up, and whirl it in the food processor to make “ice cream” for dessert.

The Bottom Line on Bananas, Your Health, and Your Waistline

Despite the bad rap they often get, bananas are a cheap, nutrient-packed, portable food that’s a great choice for people looking to reduce their disease risk, and either maintain or achieve a healthy weight. Because most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and veggies, a banana can be a good way to meet your daily quota, says Davis.

Bananas can be a perplexing food. On the one hand, we know that banana nutrition is high in sugar, and sugar is anything but good for us. On the other hand, we also hear that they are full of important nutrients that can help promote better health. So what’s the verdict on banana nutrition and whether it’s healthy or not?

Bananas are indeed a great source of several essential nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, fiber and more. They are also an ideal food for athletes and those who exercise regularly thanks to their concentration of quick-acting carbohydrates. These carbs can help bump up energy levels and keep you going all day long. In fact, bananas contain a convenient source of energy perfect for right before a workout. They are also rich in vital post-workout nutrients that can help repair muscle tissues and balance water retention.

All of these benefits crammed within one 100-calorie piece of fruit sounds like a pretty good deal, but bananas can also be tricky for certain people and may not be the best fruit of choice for everyone.

Because bananas contain a relatively high amount of sugar and carbohydrates, yet practically no banana protein or healthy fats, they can quickly spike blood sugar levels. This is a problem for anyone who has a form of insulin resistance, including those who are prediabetic or have diabetes. Therefore, bananas make a great snack for most — but not all.

If you are someone who is otherwise healthy and relatively active, bananas are a smart and beneficial food choice to add to your diet. However, if you are looking to lose weight or have difficulty managing blood sugar levels, you may want to go with other fruit and food options over bananas instead.

Banana Nutrition Facts

So how many calories are in a banana, how many carbs are in a banana and are bananas healthy? Take just one look at the medium banana nutrition facts and it’s easy to see why this super fruit is so nutritious. Not only are bananas good for you, but they’re also high in several key vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese and potassium.

One medium banana (about 118 grams) contains approximately:

  • 105 calories
  • 27 grams carbohydrates
  • 1.3 grams protein
  • 0.4 gram fat
  • 3.1 grams dietary fiber
  • 0.4 milligram vitamin B6 (22 percent DV)
  • 10.3 milligrams vitamin C (17 percent DV)
  • 0.3 milligram manganese (16 percent DV)
  • 422 milligrams potassium (12 percent DV)
  • 31.9 milligrams magnesium (8 percent DV)
  • 23.6 micrograms folate (6 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram riboflavin (5 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram copper (5 percent DV)
  • 0.8 milligram niacin (4 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligram pantothenic acid (4 percent DV)
  • 26 milligrams phosphorus (3 percent DV)

Banana nutrition also contains small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium.

Related: Banana Fungus Discovered in Colombia: How Will This Impact Banana Production?

Top 9 Benefits of Banana Nutrition

  1. Boosts Energy
  2. Loaded with Potassium
  3. Improves Digestive Health
  4. Enhances Mood
  5. Affordable, Convenient and Healthy Snack
  6. Good Source of Manganese
  7. Promotes Weight Loss
  8. Improves Kidney Function
  9. Supports Heart Health

1. Boosts Energy

Bananas are a great pick-me-up snack because they provide carbohydrates in the form of quick-releasing sugars that your body can use for instant energy. After an intense workout, your body uses these carbohydrates to refuel and repair muscle fibers that have been broken down.

After exercising, banana nutrition contains sugar molecules that are able to reach muscle tissues right when they are needed most. This helps restore glucose reserves quickly, which is vital for giving your body the energy that it needs to gain muscle and strength. Bananas are useful either before exercise or immediately after, providing your body with the sufficient banana carbs and nutrients to help promote recovery.

2. Loaded with Potassium

Bananas are one of the best sources of potassium in the world. Potassium is another nutrient that is crucial for those who are physically active, but there are plenty of benefits of potassium for everyone else to enjoy as well. Potassium acts as an electrolyte, promotes circulatory health, helps manage blow flow and hydration levels within the body, and makes it possible for oxygen to reach your cells.

Potassium is useful in preventing high blood pressure and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by regulating circulation, sodium and water retention within the body. Potassium helps lower blood pressure by counteracting the effect of sodium within the blood to keep your heart working efficiently. Fortunately, studies have shown that the best way to optimize the potential potassium benefits is to consume more of it through whole food sources, such as fruits and vegetables. Potassium also assists in the prevention of muscle cramps following exercise and helps heal and build muscle more effectively. This makes it an especially important nutrient for anyone who is physically active as well as those recovering from an injury.

3. Improves Digestive Health

Each banana contains about three grams of fiber. The fiber in banana can help support regularity to prevent constipation, bloating and other unwanted digestive symptoms. Banana fiber helps restore maintenance of regular bowel functions because it binds to waste and toxins within the digestive tract, aiding in their excretion from the body.

According to a review conducted by the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Kentucky, fiber boasts a long list of other digestive benefits as well. In fact, it may also be beneficial in the treatment of gastoesophageal reflux disease, intestinal ulcers, diverticulitis, constipation and hemorrhoids.

4. Enhances Mood

Bananas contain an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is used to produce serotonin, one of our main “happy hormones.” Healthy levels of serotonin work to lift your mood and prevent mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Banana nutrition also includes antioxidants that help with the release of dopamine within the brain, another mood-enhancing hormone. Regularly consuming bananas can increase your energy, prevent fatigue and maintain healthy levels of these key neurotransmitters to boost your mood.

5. Affordable, Convenient and Healthy Snack

Bananas are low in calories with only about 105 calories in each medium banana. Compared to many other processed or high-calorie snack choices, bananas make a great healthy snack on-the-go because they are pre-portioned and full of nutrients and fiber. This makes bananas a good choice for anyone who is watching his or her calorie intake in order to lose weight. Additionally, while it may be difficult to clean, prepare and portion other fruits like berries to enjoy as a healthy snack, bananas are easily portable and don’t need to be refrigerated. Their price is another one of the top benefits of bananas. They are one of the least expensive varieties of fruit that you can buy, and even opting for organic banana nutrition is usually very affordable.

Try keeping them at work in your desk, in your gym bag or even in your car as an emergency snack to ward off hunger when cravings strike. Pair them with a healthy source of protein or fat like almond butter, Greek yogurt or oatmeal to maximize the health benefits and keep blood sugar levels steady.

6. Good Source of Manganese

Adding a serving or two of bananas to your daily diet is a great way to bump up your manganese intake. Manganese is important for many functions within the body, including maintaining healthy skin, keeping the skeletal structure strong, maintaining proper brain function and reducing free radical damage.

Studies have shown that manganese can help with healthy brain function and may aid in the prevention of conditions like epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Some studies also show that manganese supplementation could help increase bone mineral density and may even aid in the prevention of conditions like osteoporosis.

Plus, manganese also acts as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, two crucial properties that are useful in naturally slowing aging since they reduce free radical damage and oxidative stress.

7. Promotes Weight Loss

Bananas are low in calories yet rich in dietary fiber, an important nutrient that helps keep you feeling fuller for longer. In fact, some studies have found that a higher intake of fiber-rich fruits may be associated with increased weight loss over time. For this reason, bananas are often recommended as a staple ingredient in a healthy weight-loss diet for those looking to shed a few extra pounds.

Plus, because bananas contain high amounts of fiber and have a high water content, they can help fill you up and keep you from snacking on other processed foods between meals. This makes them a guilt-free option to satisfy your sweet tooth without derailing your weight loss efforts in the process.

8. Improves Kidney Function

Bananas are loaded with potassium, a micronutrient that plays a central role in nearly every aspect of health, especially when it comes to kidney function. Some research suggests that eating more bananas could help preserve kidney function and may even be protective against kidney disease. For example, one study published in the International Journal of Cancer showed that eating a higher amount of bananas per month was associated with a lower risk of developing renal cell carcinoma.

Note that many who have kidney disease may be recommended to moderate potassium intake by limiting consumption of fruits such as bananas, as too much potassium can be harmful in some cases. If you have kidney disease or have high levels of potassium, consult with your doctor or dietitian before increasing your intake of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables,, such as bananas.

9. Supports Heart Health

Bananas are brimming with several important nutrients that can help keep your heart healthy and strong, including both potassium and magnesium. Potassium, in particular, helps regulate blood pressure to prevent excess strain on the heart muscle. Not only is a higher intake of potassium linked to a lower risk of stroke, but it may also help decrease the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack as well.

Bananas also contain a hearty dose of magnesium, with about 8 percent of the daily recommended value in each serving. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions and is essential to heart health as well. In fact, a magnesium deficiency may correlate with serious chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

Banana Nutrition History and Uses in Traditional Medicine

Bananas were believed to first be grown and eaten in parts of Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea thousands of years ago, sometime around 5000 B.C., according to some sources. Records also show that bananas were cultivated in regions of Africa and the nearby island Madagascar shortly after this time. Bananas spread across regions of the Middle East and North Africa, including areas of Egypt and Palestine, around the ninth and 10th centuries. They were even mentioned in some Ancient Islamic Texts.

When explorers from the Middle East and Europe began to travel to Central and South America, they brought bananas along with them on their journeys, introducing the fruit to an entirely new population. Portuguese explorers were the first to bring bananas to newly discovered regions and populations in this area, where they are still widely consumed today.

Bananas were easily grown in the tropics of South and Central America, so they quickly began to be harvested in large quantities while their popularity spread up to North America. Historically, nearly all parts of the banana plant were used medicinally. The flowers were used to treat ulcers and dysentery, and cooked flowers were given to diabetics to help regulate blood sugar. Meanwhile, the sap of the plant was thought to help epilepsy, fevers, insect bites and hemorrhoids.

Today, areas of the Caribbean and Central and South America still grow high amounts of bananas, including Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia. However, India, Uganda, and China are considered the three biggest exporting nations of bananas today. While original wild bananas contained large seeds, the modern type of bananas that we eat are known as parthenocarpic fruits. This means their flesh swells and ripens without the seeds even needing to be fertilized. Today, we see much smaller seeds in bananas and a more compact size than the bananas that were originally consumed.

Banana Nutrition vs. Apple Nutrition

Apples and bananas are two of the most popular fruits on the market, thanks to their delicious flavor, accessibility and convenience. However, there are also several notable differences between these two fruits as well, especially when comparing the banana nutrition data to apple nutrition facts.

When comparing one medium banana to one medium apple, there are slightly more carbs in a banana and more calories in banana as well. There’s also more potassium in banana. In fact, one medium apple contains only about half the banana potassium amount per serving. Additionally, although apples contain a bit more sugar, they’re also higher in dietary fiber than bananas. That said, both are high in vitamin C and can be included as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet to take advantage of the unique set of nutrients that each has to offer.

Banana vs. Plantain

Bananas and plantains share quite a few similarities, and it’s easy to get these two tropical fruits confused. Not only are they closely related, but they also look alike, share similar nutrient profiles, and contain several of the same important vitamins and minerals in each serving.

Plantains are starchier and contain much less sugar than the typical Cavendish banana nutrition profile. In fact, plantain nutrition contains a higher amount of carbs and calories. It is also higher in key nutrients like fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C. However, both are good sources of vitamin B6, potassium and folate, packing a comparable amount into each serving.

Plantains are also a bit more versatile than bananas. While bananas are typically enjoyed raw or mixed into baked goods and smoothies as a sweet snack, plantains are usually cooked prior to consumption. They’re available in green, yellow and black varieties. Plantains can be baked, boiled, grilled, mashed, or even fried for use in stews, soups, chips and side dishes.

Where to Buy and How to Use Bananas

Today, the Cavendish banana is the most common type of banana sold. Worldwide, many nations do not make a distinction between bananas and plantains and use them almost interchangeably. Bananas constitute a major staple food crop for millions of people living in developing countries today across Latin America, Africa, India and the South Pacific.

They are an important crop because they grow in abundance year-round and are very inexpensive. Bananas can be cooked in numerous ways depending on the type of cuisine. They are commonly fried, boiled, baked, blended, or sliced and “chipped” before being dehydrated. Banana chips are a great addition to a grain-free granola to add a little extra boost of energy after a workout or when you hit that afternoon slump.

Note that it’s best to slice and dehydrate your bananas yourself whenever possible. Many “chips” you buy at the store — also known as Kerala banana chips — are often fried with hydrogenated oils that negate any of the potential banana nutrition benefits. If you do decide to go for store-bought chips, double check the Kerala banana nutrition ingredients when purchasing, or try to get them from an organic market and ask what oil they use or if they are dehydrated.

While it’s ideal to eat as much organically grown food as you can, bananas are one of the fruits that are thought to contain less harmful pesticides than some other fruits. This is because bananas are enclosed in a thick peel. This helps block them from absorbing many of the harsh chemicals and toxins that are sprayed on crops. They also grow high up in trees where they are generally safer from rodents, animals and certain bugs. As such, they are sprayed less with pesticides and herbicides than many other foods.

Banana Recipes

Bananas are extremely versatile in recipes. They can even stand in for things like sugar, refined oils, processed flours and more. Because bananas are sweet and contain moisture, they make a great substitute ingredient in recipes for less healthy foods and added sugar. You can also eat bananas plain, have them with nut butter, or use them in recipes like healthy pancakes, muffins, and breads.

Here are a few tasty recipes that make it easy to enjoy the many benefits of bananas in your daily diet:

  • Gluten-Free Banana Bread
  • Healthy Banana Pancakes
  • Banana Pudding
  • Frozen Banana Bites
  • Paleo Zucchini Brownies with Dark Chocolate Chips

Precautions

So are bananas bad for you? As mentioned earlier, even though there are plenty of banana health benefits to consider, they may not make the best food choice for everyone.

For example, those who have trouble keeping blood sugar levels at a healthy state or who are trying to lose weight may need to keep consumption in moderation in order to maximize the potential health benefits of bananas. Compared to other fruits like berries, citrus fruits and kiwi, there is much more sugar in banana. Plus, each serving contains less fiber and a higher amount of banana calories and banana carbs. Fiber is crucial for helping slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels stable.

Berries are a great example of a fruit with a healthy ratio of sugar to fiber. They are relatively low in sugar for a fruit, yet are very high in fiber and beneficial antioxidants. For this reason, it may be best for those looking to manage weight or blood sugar levels to stick with consuming berries and other forms of low-sugar/high-fiber fruits like green apples, kiwis and citrus. These fruits have a lower glycemic index than bananas. Thus, they have a much less dramatic impact on blood sugar levels.

Interestingly, however, despite the banana carbohydrate amount, studies show that bananas contain a lower glycemic index and more slowly absorbable sugars when they are under-ripe. If you struggle to keep your blood sugar stable, selecting green bananas over fully-ripe fruits may be a better option to enjoy the multitude of banana benefits. This is because under-ripe bananas contain more resistant starches than the ripe banana. Resistant starch breaks down more slowly in the body.

Final Thoughts on Banana Nutrition

  • Take a look at the banana nutrition facts, and it’s easy to see why this super fruit is so good for you. Banana nutrition is high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium, plus a host of other important vitamins and minerals.
  • Just a few of the potential banana benefits include improved energy levels, better digestion, enhanced mood, increased weight loss, and improved heart and kidney health.
  • Enjoy bananas as is for a healthy, on-the-go snack, or add them to baked goods, pancakes, puddings and more.
  • However, compared to other fruits, there are more calories and carbs in banana, so it’s important to keep intake in moderation to help manage your blood sugar levels and weight.

Read Next: Rambutan: Gut & Bone Supporter or Narcotic-Like Toxin?

Potassium in a banana

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