Kidney Diet Tips

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Melons and the Kidney Diet: Best Choices

Melons are a juicy treat in the summer, but you need to be aware of the potassium and fluid content if you are on a low potassium renal diet or fluid restriction.

Blood test potassium levels should be between 3.5 to 5.5 mEq/L for dialysis patients. Levels below or above this range are alarming. This is because both high and low potassium can cause changes in the heart rhythm.

How much potassium is in melon

Melons tend to be high in potassium, with cantaloupe being one of the highest with 427 mg per cup. Some other melons also pack quite a bit of potassium, with honeydew at 388 mg potassium per cup, and casaba at 309 mg per cup. For patients on a potassium restriction these melons should be eaten in smaller portions, 1/2 cup as opposed to 1 cup. If you have problems with high potassium you may want to avoid these melons.

How much melon can I eat?

One melon which is acceptable for dialysis patients is watermelon. Watermelon is low in potassium with only 170 mg of potassium in a one cup serving. However, watermelon is about 92% fluid, so a serving should be limited to one cup for anyone on a fluid restriction.

Watermelon, which was first cultivated in Africa, provides many valuable nutrients. Lycopene, the substance that lends the red color to watermelon, is a powerful antioxidant. According to the Watermelon Board, the lycopene content in watermelon is higher than in any other fruit or vegetable. Some research indicates that lycopene can decrease triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Lycopene may also play a role in preventing prostate cancer.

Buying Melons

When buying watermelon, look for a firm melon that is heavy for it size and free of bruises or dents. The underside should have a yellow spot from where it sat on the ground. Precut watermelon should be free of slime or mealy parts.

Once you have found the perfect watermelon, enjoy these recipes:

Watermelon Aqua Fresca

Watermelon-Rosemary Flavored Water

Watermelon Summer Cooler

Sue Yager, MS, RDN, LDN

Sue Yager, MS, RDN, LDN

Sue works as a dietitian in Carpentersville and Marengo in Illinois She has been a dietitian for the past 15 years. The last eight have been in kidney care. In her spare time, Sue enjoys reading and riding her bike.