Kidney Diet Tips

Low Potassium Diet Tips for Kidney Disease

Most people aren’t concerned about potassium because healthy kidneys regulate potassium to keep blood levels normal. If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD) you may need a low potassium diet as your kidneys stop working.

iStock_000001174814bananaNot everyone has to restrict potassium though. It depends on your lab results and your kidney’s ability to remove potassium. If you still have urine output around 4 cups or more a day (1 liter or more) you may continue to have normal potassium levels without following a low potassium diet. Normal potassium in the blood is 3.5-5.0 mEq/L.  A low potassium diet around 2000 mg a day is usually prescribed if potassium levels are too high.

Some blood pressure medications cause you to retain more potassium. In some cases your doctor may change your blood pressure medicine to help lower potassium levels or prescribe a diuretic that helps remove extra water and potassium.

Here are some tips to help manage potassium if you need to follow a low potassium diet:

  • Have a plan. Work with a dietitian who specializes in kidney disease to come up with a meal plan you can use as a guide when planning your meals.
  • Include low potassium fruits and vegetables but stick with the portion recommended on your meal plan. Find your favorites on your diet guide and make them a part or your weekly menus.
  • Limit high potassium fruits and vegetables. If there is a food you cannot live without, try having a smaller portion and eat it less frequently.
  • Boil vegetables instead of microwaving or stir-frying. Potassium from boiled vegetables leaches into the water. Some high potassium vegetables like potatoes can be thinly sliced and boiled in a large amount of water to reduce potassium.
  • Each ounce of meat contains around 100 mg potassium. Eat the amount of meat recommended on your meal plan and avoid excessive portions.
  • Limit dried beans and peas. A half cup of mature beans ranges from 250 to 600 mg potassium, depending on the type of beans. If you have a meal with beans, leave off the meat. This helps keep potassium lower. Green beans and jelly beans are low in potassium—you can still enjoy these beans.
  • Limit milk and yogurt and foods made with milk. One cup has over 350 mg potassium—even more if extra protein or milk solids are added.
  • Snack on low sodium crackers or popcorn instead of chocolate and nuts. If you do eat chocolate candy, stick with the snack size as an occasional treat.
  • Try new recipes and collect the ones you like. DaVita.com has over 600 kidney-friendly recipes that are low potassium, low sodium and low phosphorus.

If you need a guide with a list of high and low potassium foods, check out this DaVita.com article on potassium: Potassium and chronic kidney disease

Try one of these low potassium recipes this week:

Honey Maple Snack Mix

Zesty Cucumber Salad

BBQ Chicken Pita Pizza

Bowtie Pasta Salad

Almost Mashed Potatoes

No Tomato Salsa

Apple Bars

Kidney diet resources from DaVita.com

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DaVita Diet Helper

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.