Potassium is an essential nutrient needed to keep the body functioning. Without it, we would suffer a serious health decline until the deficiency was remedied. If you are not eating a well balanced vegan diet, being potassium deficient may be of concern to you. Here, we will compare the best vegan potassium sources available, to help you choose how to ensure you get enough potassium in your diet.
In this article, we will take you through why you need potassium, why vegans are often lacking in potassium, as well as the most effective natural sources of potassium you can incorporate into your vegan diet.
Why Do We Need Potassium?
Many parents will tell their children to eat a banana, “because it’s rich in potassium.” But they lack any knowledge beyond this tidbit. Don’t believe us? Just ask them…
So… it’s useful to demystify this fascinating mineral.
Potassium helps our nerves and cells to function as intended.
It is a critical mineral that the body needs. It is also a little unusual too because it has an electrical element to it.
This aspect works to activate cells doing things like encouraging muscles to expand or contract to support activity levels. Our blood supply is also better supported for maintaining a good blood pressure level.
It is sometimes called an electrolyte because unlike some other minerals, it can give individual cells a bit of a kickstart.
Potassium will lower the blood pressure level when in a high enough dosage too. By contrast, sodium aka salt has the opposite effect.
Low potassium levels can lead to health concerns such as,
- leg cramps
- muscular pain
- poor bone health
- troublesome kidney stones
- inferior blood glucose level control (type II diabetes is a higher risk factor)
- high blood pressure (can lead to poor heart health)
As you’ve no doubt gathered, people like to talk about ‘superfoods,’ but potassium is like a super mineral.
The typical recommended intake of potassium is measured in milligrams.
It’s approximately 3,400 mg in grown men, and 2,600 mg daily for adult women, except for those who are “with child” or breastfeeding.
In the latter cases, just under 3,000 mg daily is needed to give the mother and unborn baby what they both need.
Also, children do not require as much potassium as adults.
Vegan Foods That Are High In Potassium
Vegans can benefit from a diet that’s heavier in legumes or beans compared to a non-vegan diet. This is because kidney, pinto, lima beans, plus soybeans, and the often-ignored lentil are all high in potassium.
So whereas vegans are normally deficient in certain foods, such as vitamin B12 and iron, ironically, if you are eating a healthy (and not a junk food), vegan diet, you are probably not deficient in potassium.
If you are eating a health, varied vegan diet, you are less likely to be defiicent in potassium
Nuts are the vegan’s friend, except when overdoing them due to the fat content. Nevertheless, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and pistachio nuts deliver considerable potassium per 100 grams consumed of your favorite nut.
Other nuts are also pretty decent too.
As vegans, we tend to avoid anything that comes from the sea. However, in so doing, do not ignore the benefits of including seaweed in your diet.
It is packed with potassium, a stellar performer, but also has plenty of fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc too.
Also, note that nori is different. It is grown through the use of mollusk shells and is not vegan. It just looks similar.
Getting plenty of greens and green veggies in your diet is never a bad idea.
The leafier, the better. Also, for potassium, broccoli and spinach and zucchini (it’s green on the outside, at least) are great when cooked too.
If you’re more partial to potatoes than rice, then white potatoes or sweet potatoes are a good start.
White rice only has around 50mg of potassium per 160 grams of uncooked rice.
Brown rice is better for you and richer in nutrients too, but potatoes are still better overall. If you are doing a veggie fry-up with rice, then bamboo shoots, eggplant, and Swiss chard are high in the blood-regulating mineral too. So, throw them in too.
Most Efficient Sources Of Potassium For Vegans
For vegan potassium sources, it’s good to search for the most efficient if you’re looking to ensure you get enough potassium.
There are a number of different vegan protein food sources.
Here are the most efficient sources of potassium for vegans:
1. Dried Seaweed
At over 1,350 mg of potassium for every 100 grams of it, dried seaweed is a potassium champion. It is also packed with many other nutrients.
As a vegetable, is still vegan even though it is surrounded by fish, mammals, etc. So, don’t be put off.
2. Pistachio Nuts
At over 1,000 mg for every 100 grams of them, shelled pistachio nuts are the ideal snack food.
If you’re on the go a lot and find it different to have a nutrient-rich diet, then carrying around a bag of pistachios is not a bad idea.
Also, they’re healthy and vegan when you’re getting the munchies and there’s nothing vegan in nearby stores or restaurants.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
As well as eating pumpkin, consuming the pumpkin seeds gives you over 900 mg of potassium for a 100-gram portion.
Harder to find – you may need to order them online – but they’re loaded with minerals.
While flaxseed is slightly higher in potassium, many vegans find downing flaxseed in quantity to be a tough ask.
Whereas the 730+ mg of potassium in a 100-gram helping of almonds is a no-brainer.
They’re tasty, rich in nutty flavor, and you can’t go wrong.
If eating nuts isn’t so much your thing, then you can always get almond milk instead of oat or another non-dairy milk to include them in your diet that way.
No one will judge you!
Dates won’t just help you to “stay regular” and aren’t just for octogenarians either! This tasty fruit has almost 700 mg of potassium for a generous 100-gram portion.
It’s also a nice way to get a taste of the Middle East into your diet too.
This green vegetable looks sizable but shrinks to almost nothing in the pan when heating it briefly.
Yet it still packs in over 500 mg of potassium as long as you don’t overcook a 100-gram portion of it.
Lay it over some vegan pasta as a finishing touch or even as a side vegetable.
Spinach and other leafy greens can be a great vegan source of potassium.
Soybeans are an easy one for any vegan to include enough of unless they’re allergic to them.
The modest soybean has over 530 mg of potassium, so it’s easy to get 100 grams of it onto your plate.
Fortunately, they also come in numerous varieties to avoid getting bored of them.
If you’re partial to fruit juices instead of eating the fruits (they’re kind of messy, we know), then choosing a fruit juice, not concentrate, is the way to go.
This is as close to squeezing the fruit to extract the juice as you can get – unless you’re feeling like having a juicing Sunday?
Orange, tomato, apricot, prune, or grapefruit are the best ones for an ample dose of potassium.
If you’re thinking about having a risotto but are more partial to potatoes, then think about making it a mushroom risotto to sweeten the pot, so to speak.
Mushrooms come in many tasty varieties each with its distinct flavor profile. They can help to up your potassium intake without you even noticing.
The oddly shaped avocado has a fan in the Gen Z generation. It’s also rich in potassium too.
Around 500 mg of the mineral is obtained from 100 grams of this little yellow and green fruit.
White beans and adzuki beans can be great sources of potassium. They have around 600 milligrams of potassium per 100 grams /half-cup serving. Pinto beans, lima beans, navy beans, Great Northern beans, and lentils, all have more than 350 milligrams per 100 grams.
There you have it, the best vegan potassium sources compared. If you are eating a healthy and well-balanced vegan diet, you are not going to struggle to get enough potassium in your vegan diet.
However, if you are eating a junk food vegan diet (no judgment, I’ve been there!), it may be that you are lacking in potassium.
Potassium supplements are always an option for you, however, it’s easier to add some of the vegan potassium-rich foods above to your diet.
Final Thoughts: Vegan Potassium Sources Compared
We have been through and compared a number of different potassium-rich vegan foods for your consideration. However, if you eat a generally healthy vegan diet, potassium is not something that you should have to worry about.