Potassium and Blood Pressure

Potassium is one of the major electrolytes in the body, allowing nerve cells to transmit messages, allowing muscles to contract, and helping maintain proper fluid amounts in different parts of the body.  Potassium deficiency is rare because it is available in so many foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, dairy, and meat.  Here in the U. S., however, we run into problems because even though we aren’t deficient, we don’t get a recommended amount.   In addition, potassium and sodium need to be in balance to maintain proper blood pressure.  Usual recommendations are that we get about 5 times the amount of potassium as sodium in our diets.  Because many of us eat so much processed food, in place of fresh food, we end up getting about 2 times the amount of sodium as potassium.  

Do you remember taking science in high school and learning about osmosis?  Well, sodium, potassium, and osmosis are all related to fluid balance in our bodies.  Potassium is the major electrolyte within our cells, and sodium is the major electrolyte outside of our cells (including in the blood).  When sodium is more abundant than potassium, water leaves our cells via osmosis, and enters the blood and the spaces in between cells.  This creates equal concentrations of water to electrolytes in each area.  This also increases our blood volume, placing extra pressure on our blood vessels. 

Luckily, our bodies have ways to regulate potassium and sodium.  Our kidneys are able to filter sodium and potassium out depending on our dietary intake and needs.  Some people’s bodies are better at filtering high levels of sodium than others.  Our genes have a lot to do with this, and just being African-American puts you at risk for high blood pressure especially if salt intake is high.   Over time, high blood pressure can damage our kidneys, and in fact, high blood pressure is the second leading cause of chronic kidney disease, only behind diabetes.  

If you are someone that struggles with your blood pressure, increasing potassium levels and decreasing sodium levels can help.  Decreasing sodium levels is easiest done by cutting back on processed and prepared foods, as well as seasoning your food with less or no salt.  Increasing potassium levels can be done by preparing food at home and eating fresh food.  Lindsay has prepared several delicious recipes this week to help you increase potassium in your diet.

Foods High in Potassium

  • Fruits, especially: cantaloupe, papaya, oranges, strawberries, grapefuit, grapes, bananas
  • Vegetables especially:  greens, fennel, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, squash, broccoli
  • Fish especially: halibut, tuna, scallops
  • Dairy including:  milk, yogurt (choose lower fat options)
  • Beans especially: soybeans, pinto beans, lentils, kidney beans
  • Meats including:  pork tenderloin, chicken breast

In fact, if you have heard of the DASH diet, it is all about reducing sodium and increasing potassium to help reduce high blood pressure.  For more information, see here:

To see Lindsay’s high potassium recipes for us today click here.  They include:  lentils with poached halibut, pork tenderloin with a sweet potato,  a fruit salad, and fruity yogurt.  As always, these recipes are gluten free.

Pork Tenderloin, Spinach, and Sweet Potato

ALLERGEN INFO:  Contains Milk.  This recipe can be made free of the 8 major allergens if butter is left off of the sweet potato, or replaced with a butter alternative.  The apple butter sauce could also be made without the butter or with a butter alternative.  (Leaving the butter out will also cut the saturated fat substantially!).  Find the recipe here

photo (6)

 Pork Tenderloin Nutrition Facts       Optional Apple Butter Sauce Nutrition Facts

NutritionLabel - Pork Tenderloing and Sweet PotatoNutritionLabel - Apple Bourbon Butter Sauce

 Lentils with Poached Halibut

ALLERGEN INFO:  Contains fish, the soup can be made separately and is free of the eight major allergens.  Find the recipe here

 photo (7)

NutritionLabel - Halibut and Lentils

 Fruit Salad

ALLERGEN INFO:  Free of the 8 major allergens.  Find the recipe here

 Fruit Salad

 NutritionLabel - Fruit Salad

Fruity Greek Yogurt

ALLERGEN INFO:  Contains Dairy.  Could substitute soy or coconut yogurt.  Find the recipe here

Yogurt with Berries

 NutritionLabel - Yogurt and Fruit

 Please note:  The nutrition information in these recipes are estimates only.  Actual nutrition information will vary depending on exactly how large your filet of fish is, how much oil you use, etc.  Also, please verify all allergen information yourself!!


Marieb, Elaine N., Katja Hoehn. (2013). Human Anatomy & Physiology.  Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Thompson, Janice L., Melinda M. Manore, and Linda A. Vaughan. (2008). The Science of Nutrition. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Other Helpful Web Pages



  1. Many thanks for this, you have saved my sanity. My heel is not perfect but is now far better than the sorry mess I achieved, and had to frog, following the pattern innurtctioss for the sock that I am currently making.I think that I may now be in love with you. May I have your babies?

  2. Thank you for this delicious morsel. I live in Savannah and have enjoyed Mrs. Wilkes. My mom who was visiting at the time, was in heaven when Mrs. Wilkes pulled up a chair and joined us for lunch. She graciously signed our cookbooks, shortly before she passed. It is very near and dear to me now, the memory as well as the edibles!

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