It is official. No longer is it just Europe and North America that need high potassium foods and less sodium. It is a worldwide problem.
Recently the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) came out with their recommendations for potassium and sodium consumption. To summarize, they recommend getting at least 3510 mg of potassium and less than 2000 mg of sodium daily. These goals should be reached with low sodium foods and high potassium foods, rather than supplements and medications. Additionally, the W.H.O. reports reference the scientific articles that their recommendation is based on, and include some nice tables.
The studies they reviewed showed the effect of diet on blood pressure and coronary heart disease. Accordingly, they came to the same conclusions that multiple other health organizations have come to over the past several years, although their recommendations are not as aggressive as the recommendations of some of the other groups, such as the Institute of Medicine, a U.S. organization.
Changes In Worldwide Nutrition
Several decades ago, malnutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies were the main nutritional concern worldwide. Now, “Elevated blood pressure is a major risk for heart disease and stroke – the number one cause of death and disability globally,” says Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.
The guidelines offer nothing new to those who read this website. In contrast, the 4700 mg of potassium daily and less than 1500 mg of sodium, recommended by the Institute of Medicine, will be more beneficial than the W.H.O. recommendations. Many studies show that the more sodium is restricted, the more the blood pressure is lowered. Similarly, in the W.H.O. report, they point out a study showing that getting less than 1200 mg of sodium lowered blood pressure by 8 mm Hg compared to those getting more than 1200 mg. Other studies with less restriction showed less lowering.
The media release from the W.H.O. can give a quick summary. The actual reports on potassium and on sodium can be downloaded.
Going through tables that have a lot of different foods can seem too much. So we included below some summary tables of the tables found in the two reports. Another table in the sodium report illustrates how processing can affect the potassium and sodium content of food items. Typically, processing lowers the potassium and increases the sodium in a food.
Table Of Some High Potassium Foods Groups
In the potassium report is a nice summary table showing the average amount of potassium in each major food group. It reports the number of milligrams potassium in 100 gm of food (about 3 1/2 oz).
Beans and peas 1300
Green Vegetables 550
Root Vegetables 200
Other Vegetables 300
Table Of Sodium In Some Common Foods
In the sodium report is a table showing how much sodium is in some common foods. The table below shows some of the foods taken from that table. It also reports milligrams of sodium per 100 gm food.
Table salt, baking soda, baking powder 38,000
Bouillon cubes, powdered broths, soups, gravies 20,000
Soy sauce 7,000
Snack foods (e.g. pretzels, cheese puffs, popcorn) 1,500
Sauces and spreads 1,200
Cheese, hard 800
Processed vegetables 600
Cheese, soft 400
Processed fish 400
Cereals and cereal products (e.g. bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, cakes, pastries) 250
Fish, raw or frozen 100
Roast beef 50
Milk and cream 50
Vegetables, fresh or frozen 10
Fruits, fresh or frozen 5
Where To Find Tables On This Site
If you would like to see the potassium and sodium content of specific foods, click the tab labeled “links to Food Potassium Tables” at the top of the page. It has a links to posts with tables of foods in the major food groups. They have been divided into high potassium foods and low potassium foods. Some of the most commonly searched are the high potassium food items in vegetables, fruits, dried fruits, nuts, and dairy.