The Role of Potassium and Sodium in Your Diet

  • Potassium and sodium are electrolytes that help your body maintain fluid and blood volume so it can function normally. However, consuming too little potassium and too much sodium can raise your blood pressure.1
  • Though the words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. Salt (also known but its chemical name, sodium chloride) is a crystal-like compound that is common in nature. Sodium is a mineral, and one of the chemical elements found in salt.2
  • Potassium is found in vegetables, fruit, seafood, and dairy products. Most of the sodium Americans eat comes from packaged, processed, store-bought, and restaurant foods.3 Only a small account comes from salt added during cooking or at the table.

Potassium, Sodium, and High Blood Pressure

  • Increasing your potassium intake can decrease your blood pressure if you have high blood pressure.4
  • Consuming too much sodium can raise your blood pressure.1 This means that, on average, the more sodium you consume, the higher your blood pressure will be, especially if you already have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
  • Consuming too little potassium in your diet and too much sodium can raise your blood pressure.5,6

Potassium, Sodium, and the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

  • Increasing potassium intake can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering blood pressure.7,8
  • Consuming too little potassium and too much sodium can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.4,6,8
  • Lowering blood pressure reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.10
Sources of potassium in food can come from apricots, sweet potatoes, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, avacadoes, bananas, salmon, mushrooms, and beans.

Potassium in the Food Supply and Potassium Consumption