Managing Your Low Potassium Diet

Potassium is a mineral that’s found in a number of foods and it plays a big role in keeping a person’s heartbeat regular and the muscles working correctly. Maintaining a low potassium diet is beneficial for your health.

It’s the kidney’s job to keep the right amount in the body.

When the kidneys are not functioning correctly a person may need to go on a fast with low potassium and they will be required to limit certain foods that will increase the amount in the blood.

The individual may feel some tingling, weakness and numbness if their level is too high. If the level becomes too high a person is also at risk for a heart attack.

You can easily control the amount of potassium in your diet by educating yourself on which foods contain high and low levels. When putting together a meal, pay special attention to the serving size. Otherwise, it can be very easy to consume too little or too much.

Potassium Levels and Intake Restrictions for a Healthier Lifestyle

Most people do not have to worry about following this diet.

Some medical conditions can require a diet that’s low in this mineral, but it’s always important to speak with a doctor before making any majors changes in your diet.

The restrictions for a diet that’s low in potassium will limit a person’s intake to 1,500 to 2,500 milligrams a day, but this can vary depending on a doctor’s orders.

Foods that are low in potassium will not have more than three-hundred milligrams per serving.

Most foods will contain a small amount , so portion control will also be an important part of this diet. You should be aware that the portion sizes are significantly smaller than what is recommended on a product’s serving size label.

Most lean proteins will contain high amounts of potassium. Tuna features less than two-hundred milligrams per serving. Turkey and chicken are considered the best protein choices, but you will still need to manage portion size.

One chicken drumstick or thigh has over a hundred milligrams. About half of a chicken breast has over two-hundred milligrams and three ounces of turkey will contain two-hundred and fifty milligrams.

You will also need to limit your dairy intake. Half a glass of milk will contain around a hundred and sixty milligrams and two ounces of cheese will have around a hundred milligrams. Large eggs contain eighty milligrams of potassium.

Veggies and Grains you can eat for a Potassium Restricted Diet

Veggies such as iceberg lettuce, spinach, yellow and green beans, cauliflower, cabbage and peas contain one to two-hundred milligrams.

Tomatoes and carrots are high in potassium, with one baby carrot containing thirty milligrams and one slice of tomato containing fifty milligrams.

One pack of raisins, one cup of raspberries, one peach or one apple contains one to two-hundred milligrams.

White rice and bread contain less than whole grains but portion size will still be important.

One slice of wheat bread contains eighty milligrams while two slices of white bread contains the same amount.

In order to keep the amount of potassium in your body at a healthy level you will need to limit the foods that contain high amounts.

A renal dietician will need to help you plan your diet so that you’re getting the amount that’s right for you.

You can still eat a variety of foods but they will need to be consumed in moderation.

If you want to include veggies that are high in potassium in your diet then you can leach them before eating.

Leaching is the process that works to remove some of the potassium from the veggie.

Speak with your dietician regarding the amount of leached veggies that can be safely included in your daily diet.

Never drink the juice from canned veggies or fruits or the juices from cooked meat. Keep in mind that almost every food contains some potassium and that the serving size is very important. Even foods that are low in potassium can be dangerous in large amounts. If you are currently on dialysis, be sure to follow your treatment plan closely.

What is the Average Daily Potassium Intake for Healthy Individuals?

The normal amount of potassium in a regime for a healthy individual is around four to five-thousand mgs each day.

A diet that’s low in this mineral will allow you to consume about two-thousand milligrams of potassium daily.

Your dietician or doctor will advise you on the amount you can safely consume.

Kidney dieticians are trained to help a patient make certain modifications to their diet in order to prevent any complications for renal disease.

Some foods that are low in potassium include alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, rice, noodles, cauliflower, cabbage, blackberries, beans, cranberries, cherries, coffee, kale, grapes, apricots, blueberries, peaches and plums.

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Rice
  • Noodles
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Blackberries
  • Beans
  • Cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Coffee
  • Kale
  • Grapes
  • Apricots
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Plums

Some veggies, like potatoes, can be double boiled in order to reduce the level. Speak with your dietician regarding how to correctly leach root vegetables and learn more about the recommended serving size.

Typically, the amount of potassium in the body is balanced by eating foods that contain it. Excess amounts are then removed from the body through the urine.

People who are suffering from kidney disease or kidney failure are unable to get rid of enough potassium in their urine because their kidneys are unable to perform well.

In cases such as these, the amount in the blood can become elevated, causing a condition which is referred to as hyperkalemia. Following a diet that’s low in potassium can minimize the risk of developing this condition.

A simple blood test can measure the level of potassium in the blood. The normal range is 3.5 to 5meg/L. A level that’s below meg/L or greater than 6meg/L is considered dangerous. In order to prevent serious complications, potassium levels must be well regulated.

Hyperkalemia doesn’t usually cause any noticeable symptoms unless the levels are above 6meg/L. At this elevated level, serious complications can occur, such as severe muscle weakness, irregular heart rhythm, sudden death or paralysis.

Typically, health experts recommend following a regime that contains around 4700mg daily. People who are suffering from severe or moderate kidney disease must eat less than 2700mg daily. Patients who suffer from moderate or severe kidney disease have kidney function below 45ml/min.

A nutritionist or registered dietician can work with you to create a meal plan that’s low in potassium. Most nutritionists will recommend the following meal plan guidelines for patients with severe kidney function impairment:

  • Two to three servings daily of veggies that are low in potassium
  • One to three servings daily of fruit that’s low in potassium
  • Three to seven servings daily of meat that’s low in potassium
  • Four to six servings daily of grains that are low in potassium

Unfortunately, almost all foods contain some level, so whenever possible it’s important to choose foods that are low in potassium. Drain canned meats, fruits and veggies before eating. And always be mindful of the correct serving size when you’re calculating the amount of potassium in a food.

Foods with a higher levels contain more than 250mgs per serving and should be avoided at all costs. The process of leaching can help to reduce the amount of potassium found in some veggies.

Foods that contain a low amount contain less than 250mgs per serving. These foods can be consumed regularly, but you should still be mindful of the portion size because potassium can quickly add up if you consume larger portions.

It’s possible to reduce the amount of potassium in some veggies that have a high content. Leaching involves soaking frozen or raw veggies in water for two to three hours before cooking.

Leaching is designed to draw the potassium out of the food and into the water. These veggies should not be consumed regularly because they still contain high levels even after the leaching process.

To minimize potassium in your produce, always rinse and cut your produce in warm water. The produce should be cut into thin strips. Veggie skin should be peeled before slicing. Soak the veggies for two to three hours or overnight. Soak in unsalted hot water. The water should be changed every three hours if possible. Next, cook the veggies as desired.

Sample Meal Plans

When you’re monitoring your intake, it can be difficult to learn how to throw together a meal in the beginning. Which is why your physician may recommend meeting with a dietician or nutritionist for one to two months until you get the hang of healthy eating and meal preparation.

There are a ton of healthy meal options for breakfast. A great option that’s low in potassium might include a cup of oatmeal that’s topped with half a cup of fresh berries and served with half a cup of strawberries, half a cup of cottage cheese and half a cup of apple juice.

At lunch, enjoy a piece of grilled chicken with one cup of romaine lettuce, half a cup of brown rice and ten cherry tomatoes. Another good option is a tuna sandwich made with one tablespoon of mayo on whole wheat bread with a side of fresh peaches and half a cup of raw baby carrots.

An easy to prepare low potassium meal can include three ounces of shrimp mixed with half a cup of cooked pasta, one tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of fresh parmesan cheese.

On the side you can enjoy a small salad or half a cup of mixed veggies. Another tasty option is fresh steak fajitas using three ounces of cooked flank steak. Top with half a cup of onions, half a cup of cooked peppers, wrapped in soft corn tortillas. On the side you can enjoy half a cup of low sodium Spanish rice.

Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a snack every now and then. Healthy snack options include apple wedges dipped in peanut butter, low-fat yogurt with graham crackers or half a cup of cucumbers dipped in low-fat salad dressing.

Foods that Contain High and Moderate Potassium Levels

High potassium produce should be limited if you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease. It’s possible to eat a small amount of these foods and remain well within your daily target for potassium. Frequency and portion size are definitely important.

If you’re on dialysis, you may need to include foods that are high in this mineral in order to avoid depletion. Patients who are on nocturnal dialysis or home hemodialysis may follow a more liberal diet considering the treatment provides more dialysis than standard in-center dialysis.

Some people with early stage kidney disease may not have a potassium restriction unless their blood levels show elevated levels of potassium.

Potassium, just like sodium, must remain balanced in the body. Following a low K diet will help your kidneys to function properly. Foods that contain:

High level of K include:

  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Dates
  • Nectarines
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Oranges
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Prunes
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin

Moderate sources include:

  • Blueberries
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Blackberries
  • Eggplant
  • Corn
  • Peaches
  • Grapes
  • Limes
  • Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Radishes
  • Pineapples
  • Tangerines
  • Raspberries
  • Lemons
  • Cauliflower
  • Watermelon
  • Cabbage
  • Green beans

Q and A

Which type of fish has less than 200mgs per three ounce serving?

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • None of the above

The normal amount of potassium in a diet for a healthy individual is around

  • 1,000 to 2,000
  • 2,000 to 3,000
  • 4,000 to 5,000
  • None of the above

A diet that’s low in potassium will allow the individual to consume how much each day?

  • 1,000
  • 2,000
  • 3,000
  • 4,000

Almost every food contains some level of potassium

  • True
  • False

Most lean proteins will contain high amounts

  • True
  • False