Why do you need it?

Potassium is vital for balancing fluids in your body, nerve signal transmission, heart muscle contractions and kidney health. A diet rich in potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure, kidney function and helps prevent kidney stones by neutralising acid.

High supplement doses can cause diarrhoea, nausea and stomach pain. Older people may be more sensitive to high doses of potassium due to reduced kidney function and shouldn’t take potassium supplements unless advised by a doctor.


Symptoms of potassium deficiency include weakness, tiredness, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, tingling or numbness, constipation, irregular heartbeat, feeling thirsty all the time and passing large amounts of urine and depression.

How much do you need?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), potassium intake should balance sodium intake with a ratio of 1.0. They say: “This may be achieved through adequate daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.” However, most people eat too much sodium (salt) and not enough potassium. 

Adults should consume less than two grams of sodium (or five grams of salt), and at least 3.5 grams (3,510 mg) of potassium per day, according to new guidelines issued by WHO. Children need less according to their energy requirements.

Source: WHO. 2013. WHO issues new guidance on dietary salt and potassium. Available at: https://www.who.int/news/item/31-01-2013-who-issues-new-guidance-on-dietary-salt-and-potassium

Where to find potassium

Potassium is widely available in plant foods and the best sources include fruit and vegetables, especially bananas, avocados, potatoes, leafy green vegetables, squash, plantain and dried fruit. Pulses and nuts are also an excellent source. Processing reduces the amount of potassium in many food products, so avoid eating too many processed foods. 

  • Bananas: One of the most well-known sources of potassium, bananas are widely available throughout Uganda. They can be eaten fresh or used in smoothies and desserts. One medium (118 gram) banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium.
  • Avocados: An excellent source of potassium, even richer than bananas, avocados are widely available in Uganda and can be eaten on their own, added to salads or used to make dips like guacamole. One avocado (136 grams) provides 690 milligrams of potassium. 
  • Pulses: Beans such as mung beans, cowpeas, kidney beans and lentils are excellent sources of potassium. Pulses are commonly consumed in Uganda and can be used in dishes such as curries, soups, stews, salads or simply boiled and served as a side dish. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 731 milligrams of potassium and one cup (177 grams) of cooked kidney beans, 713 milligrams.
  • Potatoes: A staple crop in Uganda, potatoes and sweet potatoes are rich in potassium. They can be baked, boiled, roasted or mashed and served as a side dish or included in stews and soups. One medium (156 gram) baked potato contains 610 milligrams of potassium.
  • Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale and amaranth leaves also provide potassium. They are commonly grown and consumed in Uganda and can be used in stews and soups or served as a side dish. One cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach contains 839 milligrams of potassium.
  • Fruit: One wedge (286 grams) of watermelon provides 320 milligrams of potassium, one guava (55 grams) contains 229 milligrams and a medium (123 gram) fresh tomato contains about 290 milligrams.
  • Nuts: Peanuts and other nuts can boost your intake. A small handful (28 grams) of peanuts contains around 200 milligrams of potassium while a handful of cashew nuts contains 178 milligrams.
  • Squash: Another nutritious vegetable, rich in potassium, squash can be cooked and eaten as a side dish, added to stews or used in soups. One cup (180 grams) of cooked squash contains around 500 milligrams of potassium.
  • Plantains: Part of the banana family, plantains are also rich in potassium and are commonly consumed in Uganda. They can be boiled, fried or roasted and served as a side dish or eaten as a snack. One cup (118 grams) of fried plantain contains 569 milligrams of potassium.
  • Dried fruit: Raisins, dried apricots, dates and other dried fruit are a good source with half a cup (83 grams) of raisins providing 615 milligrams of potassium and just one pitted date containing 47 milligrams. 
  • Wholegrains: Among starchy foods wholegrains are much higher in potassium than their refined counterparts such as white rice. A cup (174 grams) of cooked millet contains 108 milligrams of potassium and a cup (202 grams) of cooked long-grain brown rice, 174 milligrams.