Doctor's Note

Very few people are eating enough plants—see yesterday’s video-of-the-day 98% of American Diets Potassium Deficient. The banana listing reminds me of a similarly humorous finding about the levels of eyesight-saving nutrients. See Egg Industry Blind Spot. Bananas are also kind of pitiful antioxidant-wise (see Best Berries). Is a fruit a fruit or should we really go out of our way to eat plants with the most antioxidants? See Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidants. Tomorrow I'll end this three part video series with a surprising twist—the anti-inflammatory effects of potassium! Stay tuned for Potassium and Autoimmune Disease.

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog post for additional context: Do Vegans Get More Cavities?

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  • sheof

    Like your videos. But, what is with the 5 yellow star rating if there is no way to rate the video? If it’s a fake star rating I would recommend removing as it questions credibility.

    • Thea

      sheof: Regarding your question about the ratings: I believe that you have to be logged into this site to rate a video. Anyone can watch a video and comment on it. But some features on the site are only for those people who (freely) register and log in. That’s my understanding anyway.

    • Thea

      OK, I just gave it a try. I don’t normally bother logging in, but when I do, I *can* rate the videos. Hope that helps to put your mind at ease.

      • Michael Greger M.D.

        Thanks Thea for checking–and I’m so glad folks are 4 and a half starring it!

  • Jerryd

    To make the potassium content easier to relate to other foods, I would suggest using the calorie content of the food, not the weight. When you do that I get 1,145 grams of potassium for banana, which is double the potassium of the date on an equal calorie basis. And molasses gets 1,464 grams of potassium. And Wholesome organic molasses blows regular molasses out of the water, too. For a tablespoon of Grandma’s molasses the label says 110 grams of potassium. Wholesome says 720 grams of potassium. I’m using either product labels or CronOMeter for my data.

  • JohnC

    From what I remember there are two kinds of strokes, ischemic and hemorrhagic. Does potassium help prevent both kinds?

    • Dr. Connie Sanchez, N.D.

      Potassium was specifically linked to reduced risk of ischemic strokes, those caused by a blockage in an artery feeding the brain. They account for about 80 percent of strokes.The mineral was not, however, linked to a lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when there is bleeding in the brain. Larsson, et. al., Dietary Potassium Intake and RIsk of Stroke. Stroke. 2011;42:2746-2750.

  • Lauritz

    I’ve found that you have no video on psoriasis yet. Is there anything out there on the nutritional treatment of scalp psoriasis? I have found a coal tar shampoo to be at least mildly effective. But I am concerned about its carcinogenic properties!?

    • Don Forrester MD

      I would be concerned with the use of coal tar shampoo as well. I would try the many other over the counter and prescription options without coal tar before settling on coal tar to control your condition. See my post at in response to psoriasis question raised by Nurzat. Nutrition can play a role in improving or resolving psoriasis. Good luck.

  • Judith McConnell

    That’s funny, because I was doing the Eat to Live diet, avoiding salt altogether, and eating all fruits and veggies and ended up being hospitalizes for low sodium and high potassium, taking 3 bas of saline solution to cure.
    Now I eat some salt and follow your diet and I had the best fasting labs ever!
    Love your incites. Judith McConnell

    • daisy

      what is your current diet judith after Eat to Live?do you still eat mostly fruit,veg,beans?

  • Dr.Dan

    One cup of banana has less potassium than one cup of tomato paste… what a shocker! Who eats a whole cup of tomato paste really?

    • Julian

      Indeed, a failed attempt at mythbusting I’d say. The table says 150g banana (I guess one big banana) have about half the potassium of one cup of beans, beet greens or 178g dates. Which is a lot. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’d eat 2 bananas over the other stuff any time of the day. It only takes a few minutes and is a great snack, too…

    • horsec8z

      The hands down potassium boost is sun dried tomatoes. I do eat these as a sort of vegan jerky when hiking. 3427mg per 100gm. And they don’t get smooshed and black in my backpack. :)

  • beccadog

    Parsley is another green vegetable that is absolutely loaded with potassium. Parsley has 1080 mg in just two little sprigs. I put way more than two little sprigs of parsley in spaghetti sauce, which I use in a tortilla lasagne, or tomato based, Spanish Gazpacho soup, Vegetables are generally lower in fructose than bananas, although, I also love bananas, just have to restrain myself.

    All plants have potassium.especially wasabi root and amaranth leaves. Unfortunately, these are more difficult to find.

    • Lauren Sullivan

      Where are you getting this information about parsley? The USDA nutrient database lists fresh parsely as 55mg for 10 sprigs – leaving just 11mg for 2. Well below bananas.

  • Cory Goldblatt

    Chiquita, which use to be known as the United Fruit Company, did in fact have a PR company. They hired Edward Bernays, the founder of modern public relations. United Fruit Company did a lot a reprehensible things in its glory days of the 50s and 60s. Although this isn’t the site to get into all that…

    On another note, most likely they did in fact try to sell more bananas by convincing the general public they were high in potassium. I would imagine that all kinds of misinformation about nutrition actually started in the minds of PR guys.

  • Adam Pfleghaar

    On Facebook you linked this study:
    And there is a line that says “Low-fat diet was not found to have a protective effect.”

    I am a huge fan of yours, been following you for a while, and respect you and your work more than anyone else out there. I consider you a type of Bodhisattva of nutrition :) Would you please tell me your stance when it comes to consuming oils?

    I know Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. McDougall are almost ideologically against oil and their reasoning makes a lot of sense “oils are extremely low in terms of nutritive value. They contain no fiber, no minerals and are 100% fat calories”. But I question it in my specific circumstance. In the case of people accustomed to consuming the average American diet and living the average American lifestyle, the practical wisdom of “NO OIL!” is very valuable. But I am 32 years old, I have virtually no body fat (I’m 5’10” weighing 128 pounds) I am VERY physically active in sport competition martial arts, with the exception of occasional oil consumption, I eat almost entirely whole foods and am entirely a plant based vegan (wide variety of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, mushrooms and so forth). I personally feel I need more calorie dense foods for my body type and lifestyle and using first cold pressed, unfiltered olive oil seems to help. What is your opinion?

    • Claudia Martindale

      Dr. McDougall gives example of two athletes who lived on potatoes for six months and due to needing more calories, oil was added to their diet. It was considered of no nutrient value except to add calories and thus didn’t mess up the experiment. Sounds like you’re another who can add oil!

  • organiccheryl

    My potassium is 5.8, my Dr. says this is high and to cut down to 1 banana instead of 5/day. I am vegan & eat a lot of fruit & veg. Do you consider 5.8 high?

    • Don Forrester MD

      It depends on the laboratory normals where the tests are run. Remember that some folks run a bit high or a bit low normally… about 1 in 20 are outside “normal values” even though it is normal for them. The interpretation needs to be viewed in conjunction with other values. It is possible that this in a normal value for you or the lab might have made an error. When blood is drawn into the syringe the red blood cells are sometimes broken up liberating potassium which causes a “false” positive. Previous values help sort this our but if you do cut to one banana and the value goes down you might increase to 3 and repeat the test. The number of banana’s may not be a critical issue. Good luck.

  • Peter

    You write often about strokes and stroke prevention. But while most strokes are ischemic (blood clots), a significant percentage are hemorrhagic (bleeding). Since the two kind of strokes work in opposite ways (blood too thick v. blood too thin), don’t different nutritional safeguards apply?

  • Han

    I wish those researchers wouldn’t shop up the vein diseases. Just like they treat all the cancers as completely different diseases.

  • eeldeer

    In a properly managed vegan diet, is potassium chloride (salt substitute) used as seasoning a useful way to increase potassium intake?

  • Jane’s Addiction

    Yeah when I look at the USDA list that Dr. G is using, I’m not seeing anything that says bananas are low in potassium. The problem is that when you search the USDA database by nutrient, it sorts everything by the cup, or something similar. So like a comment has already observed, who’s going to eat a whole cup of tomato paste every day? Who’s going to eat an entire cup of spirulina? No, according to the database, a medium-sized banana (118g) has more potassium than a cup of cooked quinoa.

  • Pan

    Is salt substitute a good source of potassium?