Hyperkalemia is a condition in which there is an elevated amount of potassium in the blood (above 5.0 mEq/l). Potassium is needed for the normal functioning of the heart, muscles and nerves and to help transmit electrical signals throughout the nervous system. High potassium levels can cause kidney stones, cardiac arrest and death. A diet that restricts potassium and is low in saturated fats and hydrogenated oil can help reduce potassium.
Symptoms of High Potassium
In some individuals, high levels of potassium may cause no symptoms, while others have reported nausea, fatigue, muscle weakness, tingling sensations, irregular heartbeat and weak pulse. Generally, unless the rise in potassium is very rapid, symptoms of high potassium in the bloodstream are usually undetected until potassium levels reach 7.0 mEq/l or higher.
Causes of High Potassium
High levels of potassium can be caused by diet, medications, kidney failure and Addison's disease.
Diet for High Potassium
Potassium is found in meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts and in dairy products. A diet for those with high potassium levels needs to lower their intake of potassium to under 2,000 mg each day.
To follow a low potassium diet, avoid spices and herbs that contain potassium including salt substitutes, limit fruit and vegetable consumption to four servings a day of 1/2 cup each time and reduce milk intake to only 1/2 cup each day. The restriction on milk includes all types of milk, such as buttermilk, ice cream and yogurt.
Some fruits, vegetables and other foods should be completely avoided. Fruits that are very high in potassium and need to be stricken from the diet include apricots, avocados, cantaloupes, honeydews, nectarines, plantains and tangelos. Vegetables that should be completely avoided include artichokes, beans, dried peas, lentils, baked potatoes, french fries, potato chips, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, tomato paste/puree, winter squash and yams. Other foods to stay away from include chocolate candy and beverages, molasses and nuts.