Too much Salt and too little Potassium?


Both salt and potassium are critical to your overall health. They are both crucial in the maintenance of normal blood pressure. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (see References below) found some interesting data.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that an adult consume no more than 2000 mg of salt per day (less than 1 teaspoon ). It also recommends the intake of 3500 mg of potassium per day. The authors of the research found the following:

  1. Only 3 out of 1000 Americans meet the suggested intake.
  2. Only 1 out of 1000 people in the UK meet the suggested intake.
  3. Only 1.5 out of 1000 people in Mexico meet the suggested intake.
  4. France did the best; 5 out of 1000 meet the suggested intake (still nothing to brag about).

It would seem to me that the authors would reach the conclusion that since these nutrients are critical to your health they would suggest a variety of different options to help health authorities deal with this issue. Instead the lead author said the following:

“The data confirm that we eat too much sodium and not enough potassium. But they also suggest that the numbers being proposed by WHO and other health agencies are completely unfeasible. The chances that a majority of a population would achieve these goals is near zero.”

I have to admit that I am dumbfounded; the authors have simply given up. In fact, they do not even suggest that the health consequences of this dietary pattern be explained to individuals and let them decide on their own if they can make the necessary changes or not.

There are 3 basic questions:

  1. Are individuals who consume too much salt risking their health? The answer is absolutely “yes.”
  2. Are individuals who consume too little potassium risking their health? Again, the answer is absolutely “yes.”
  3. Is it possible for people to meet these healthy standards? Again, a resounding “yes.”

What needs to be done?

  1. 80% of salt consumption comes from processed foods. Only 20% comes from salt you add to your foods. Are these researchers saying that it is impossible for individuals to eliminate or at least significantly reduce their consumption of processed foods? It does mean people would need to learn how to cook more foods than they currently do. If all processed foods are eliminated from your diet, the daily sodium intakes drops to 1000 mg/day or less – well below the 2000 mg/day maximum recommendation. Meaning, there is room for you to still consume some processed foods and still be well below the maximum amount. Why are these authors not stating the facts and letting people make their own decisions?
  2. Potassium is contained primarily in plant foods. A list of the foods highest in potassium is posted below. The fact is that when you eat more fruits, vegetables, and legumes you can easily meet or exceed the recommended daily amount. As an aside, nutritional researchers estimate that the daily intake of potassium in ancient times was about 3 times the level set by the WHO, which shows you how far the average diet has sunk.

So it is up to you. Either give up or make some reasonable changes to your diet so that you can maintain your health for many years to come.

Foods High in Potassium

  • Beet Greens
  • Lima Beans
  • Swiss Chard
  • Sweet Potato
  • Potatoes
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Pinto Beans
  • Lentils

Notice that bananas do not appear on this list and in fact appear much further down the list of commonly eaten foods containing potassium. Shows you what a good PR firm can do!


Eliezer Greenspan
Eliezer writes on issues of public health including nutrition, exercise, and effectiveness of drugs and medical procedures. He has trained in a course as an EMT, is certified by Dr. John McDougall in the Starch Solution program, and continues to expand his medical knowledge by taking courses offered by major universities and medical schools – ranging from Epidemiology to Vaccine Safety. He is currently studying to be a Plant-Based Chef. He lectures throughout Israel and offers courses and training online. More details and articles can be found at his website "The Fountain of Youth" ( On Facebook: