Potassium is a mineral that is present in many foods and keeps the heart beating properly and helps nerves and muscles to function adequately. The kidneys' primary function is making sure the potassium level in the blood is normal. Specific medications and chronic kidney problems can cause the potassium levels to increase, which is called hyperkalemia. A diet low in potassium can counteract the problem.
Consult a dietitian if your physician recommends a low-potassium diet due to chronic kidney problems. If you have kidney problems, a dietitian may recommend that you have no more than 1,500 to 2,700 mg of potassium per day; potassium consumption for the average person should not exceed 4,700 mg per day.
An example of a low-potassium diet consists of one to three servings per day of low-potassium fruit such as pears, plums or strawberries; two to three servings per day of low-potassium vegetables such as lettuce, fresh mushrooms or green peas; low-potassium dairy foods such as cheddar or cottage cheese; and low-potassium meats such as chicken, turkey or bologna. For low-potassium beverages and desserts, drink fruit punch or non-dairy creamer in coffee and eat yellow or angel cake.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid consuming foods high in potassium if you are on a low-potassium diet. Most foods contain some potassium, but you should limit the ones that have high levels as much as possible. Always drain canned vegetables and fruits before eating them.
There are various foods that have higher than 250 mg of potassium per serving and should be limited. Whole grains contain much more potassium than refined grains and should be avoided. Sports drinks such as Gatorade, soy milk, and snack foods such as peanut butter, fig cookies and chocolate should be limited.
Fruits that contain high levels of potassium are apricots, bananas, coconuts, watermelon, kiwifruit, oranges and prunes. Vegetables that have high levels of potassium include refried beans, broccoli, beets, greens, olives, mushrooms and yams. Dairy products such as milk and yogurt should be limited as well. Salt substitutes and low-sodium soups should also be used.
Reduce Potassium in Vegetables
Remove as much potassium in vegetables as possible. Leach vegetables by soaking raw or frozen vegetables in 10 parts water and 1 part room-temperature water for at least two hours before cooking (this can be done overnight). Rinse the vegetables in warm water before leaching. Leaching will take a lot of the potassium out of the food, but there is still plenty of potassium left in the food after this process, so high-potassium vegetables should still be limited.