How to get more potassium

Q. My doctor says I need more potassium in my diet. However, I have diabetes, and orange juice and bananas have too much sugar. What foods can I eat to get potassium without too much sugar?

A. You can obtain potassium from a number of vegetables that provide potassium with fewer carbohydrates (sugars) than orange juice and bananas. Some examples include asparagus, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables, such as spinach. Fruits with the highest potassium content (bananas, melons, and apricots) are also high in carbohydrates, but there are some that supply potassium with fewer carbs, such as strawberries and nectarines. For a complete list of the potassium in different foods, go to www.health.harvard.edu/100.

Dairy products are good sources of potassium. Unsweetened yogurt, for example, offers a moderate-carbohydrate supply. Greek yogurt has gained popularity because it is lower in carbohydrates, but unfortunately it is lower in potassium content as well.

Some salt substitutes contain potassium chloride, instead of sodium chloride. A serving of 1?6 teaspoon has as much potassium as a banana or melon does. This can help replace potassium without the carbs, but you can overshoot and elevate your potassium to dangerous levels. People with kidney problems or taking certain medications should avoid potassium salt substitutes, so check with your doctor before starting.

— William Kormos, M.D.
Editor in Chief, Harvard Men's Health Watch