Following a low-potassium diet may be necessary for some medical conditions, such as chronic kidney disease. Potassium is an important nutrient that everyone needs and is usually obtained through the foods they eat. Follow a restricted diet only after consulting with your health-care provider.
Foods that are low in potassium should contain no more than 200 mg of potassium per serving, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Check food labels or the list of potassium content in foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture website to keep track of how much potassium you're eating. Watch serving sizes if eating high-potassium foods is unavoidable. For example, eating just 1/2 cup of peas or tuna salad and lowering the serving size of perch, ham or beef ribs to 2 ounces can keep a meal under 200 mg per serving.
Some foods are so high in potassium that it would be hard to stay within acceptable limits, even if you reduced the portion size. Foods that contain the highest amount of potassium include potatoes, lima beans, tomato sauce, winter squash, soybeans, spinach, rockfish, halibut, haddock, beans and beets. If you want to eat these foods, you could have 1/2 cup of tomato juice, 1/5 of a baked potato, 1/3 of a fish fillet, or 1/4 cup of spinach, baked beans or beets. Other foods to avoid are chocolate, bananas, oranges, beef, raisins, broccoli, carrots, bran and whole grains.
Salad dressings are low in potassium and can be combined with 1 cup of green leaf or iceberg lettuce, 1/2 cup cucumber and one small baby carrot for a low-potassium salad. If you limit a serving of peanut butter to 1 or 2 tablespoons, you can still enjoy peanut butter and jelly on white bread. A small chicken breast, six chicken nuggets, one chicken thigh, two slices of ham or bologna, and fish sticks are all low in potassium. You can include 1-cup serving sizes of sweet corn, peas, green beans, cauliflower, white rice or pasta. Fruit choices could be one pear, apple or peach, 10 cherries or 1 cup of applesauce. Waffles, French toast sticks, bacon and some ready-to-eat cereals, such as shredded wheat, bran flakes or oats, make good low-potassium breakfast options.
Milk is high in potassium, but 1/2 cup of milk, 1 cup of cottage cheese and 1-ounce servings of Colby, provolone, muenster or cheddar cheese are all low-potassium options.
You can reduce the potassium content in vegetables by leaching them. Peel and slice the vegetables, rinse them under warm water, then soak them for a minimum of two hours in warm water, using at least 10 times more water than the amount of vegetables. When you cook them, use an amount of water that's five times more than the amount of vegetables.
- USDA Nutrient Database: Potassium Content of Selected Foods
- Up To Date: Patient Information -- Low Potassium Diet
- Up To Date: Foods with Low Levels of Potassium
- Up To Date: Foods with High Levels of Potassium
- Linus Pauling Institute; Potassium; Victoria Drake; December 2010
- National Kidney Foundation: Potassium and Your CKD Diet
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