Kidney Diet Tips

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When Potassium Level is Low

Potassium is an important mineral that every human body needs for almost everything it does, including proper kidney and heart function, muscle contraction and nerve transmission. This is why having a low potassium level can be as dangerous as having a high one. The acceptable potassium range in our blood is: 3.5 mg/dl-5.5 mg/dl.

When someone has a low potassium level in their blood, problems such as high blood pressure, depletion of calcium in bones and increased risk of kidney stones can occur. Prolonged diarrhea or vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretic use, eating clay, heavy sweating, dialysis or using certain medications can also cause severe potassium deficiency. People with early stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) may take diuretics to help remove extra fluid from the body, which can cause low levels of potassium. For people in later stages of CKD who are on dialysis, especially on peritoneal dialysis, the dialysis treatment may cause them to lose more potassium as well.

If your care team tells you that your blood potassium level is low, you might need a potassium supplement. However, if you want to avoid having another pill to take, you can also easily improve your low potassium level by eating more potassium-rich foods.

Most fruits and vegetables have potassium in them; however, there are many that have more potassium than others. Here is a list of high-potassium fruits and vegetables. Talk to your dietitian about how to incorporate these into your specific kidney diet.                                              

High-Potassium Fruits and Vegetables

Avocado Oranges/Orange Juice

Banana                                           Papaya     

Beans                                              Potatoes     

Fresh beets                                    Pumpkin  

Chocolate                                       Seeds    

Coconut water or milk                Spinach, cooked   

Dried fruit                                     Sweet Potato    

Mango                                            Tomatoes or tomato products      

Melon                                             Yams     

Nuts

The following juices and waters are high in potassium and ready to consume, but keep in mind their fluid content as well as their sugar content, especially if you have diabetes.

High-Potassium Drinks

Florida’s Natural®:

Orange Juice, 450 mg potassium

Orange Strawberry Banana Smoothie, 580 mg potassium

Wild Berry Orange Smoothie, 530 mg potassium

Minute Maid®:

Premium Original Orange Juice, 450 mg potassium

Pure Squeezed Orange Juice, 450 mg potassium

Naked Juice®:

Berry Blast, 650 mg potassium

Bright Beets, 840 mg potassium

Green Machine, 760 mg potassium

Pomegranate Blueberry, 570 mg potassium

Odwalla®:

Blueberry Monster, 650 mg potassium

Original Super Food, 660 mg potassium

Strawberry Banana, 830 mg potassium

V8®:

Carrot Mango, 340 mg potassium

Original Low Sodium, 900 mg potassium

Vita Coco®:

Coconut water Lemonade, 420 mg potassium

Coconut Water Twist of Lime, 470 mg potassium

DaVita.com has easy recipes that are rich in potassium. Here are three to start out with.

               Acai Berry Smoothie Bowl

                Balsamic Pork Chops

                Asian Lettuce Wraps

There are many more high-potassium recipes to discover on DaVita.com. From the recipes search page, click on “Diet Type” on the left side of the page and select “Higher Potassium” to see them all.  

Always talk with your doctor or dietitian to see if you need more potassium before consuming high levels of potassium.

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                      

Diet and Nutrition Videos

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Matilde Ladnier RD, LD

Matilde Ladnier RD, LD

Matilde is an adventurer who loves to cook, try new foods, travel (especially to her home country Peru) and play tennis. She has over twenty years of experience working with CKD patients and enjoys educating anyone who is willing to learn.