Potassium is normally a mineral that doctors and dietitians encourage people to eat more of. It’s important to maintain a healthy heartbeat. It also plays a major role in helping your body maintain its fluid balance. Without potassium, your nerves and muscles don’t function properly. So, why would anyone ever tell you to lower the potassium in your diet? Your kidneys control your body’s potassium levels. Some medicines for chronic kidney diseases require victims to lower their potassium intake. This is referred to as a low sodium diet.
Reasons to Reduce Potassium Levels
When your body runs low on potassium, you can make up for it by grabbing a snack that’s rich in this vital mineral. Your body regulates potassium levels in your bloodstream after you eat fruits and veggies with potassium. However, if you surgically lost half a kidney, your body can no longer get rid of excess potassium via urine. Those having this condition have to observe a low potassium diet. Following this diet lowers the risk of excess potassium in the bloodstream.
How Much Potassium do You Need?
Ever wonder how much potassium you need as you chomp into a banana? Typically, experts say we need about 4700 mg of potassium every day. However, those with moderate to severe kidney disease or a kidney injury need to cut back to 2000 mg of potassium daily. If you have moderate to severe chronic kidney disease, this includes you.
A registered dietitian can help you build a low-potassium meal plan that includes up to three servings of low-potassium fruit. Enjoy two to three servings of vegetables that are lower in potassium. Daily dairy options include up to two servings of low-potassium choices per day. Soy and non-dairy cream have lots of calcium, however, check labels for potassium levels. Ask your dietitian which milk alternative you should try. If you crave meat, try three to seven servings of low-potassium choices such as rice and bread.
How Do I Reduce Potassium?
Almost all foods have potassium, but knowing which foods are lower helps you make better choices. Choose broccoli, carrots, asparagus, cabbage, or any of the long list of vegetables that are low in potassium. Your doctor can provide a comprehensive listing. As a cheat, there are now online and smartphone calculators to track your potassium intake. Food with fewer than 200 mg of potassium is a good choice.
Foods with High Potassium to Avoid
Foods that have the highest concentrations of potassium should be avoided. Here are a few common food choices to avoid. All dried fruit concentrates potassium levels, and so do fruit juices. Stay away from tomatoes, cantaloupe, avocados, potatoes, and related starches. Also avoid Brussels sprouts, milk, lentils, nuts, and yogurt.
Perhaps the most important way to keep your kidneys functioning well is the food you eat. Vegetables that leach well include carrots, beats potatoes, and rutabagas, and should be peeled before slicing. Others are naturally low, such as red cabbage, asparagus, beans, broccoli, and apples. Keep reading for sample recipes for your low-potassium diet.
To help keep potassium levels down, you can leach vegetables. This lets you remove some of the potassium. Leaching involves soaking frozen or raw vegetables in water. After two hours, some of the potassium leaches away. You can’t eat these vegetables too often since there’s still a lot of potassium in the food after leaching.
Read labels carefully for portion sizes so that you’re calculating your potassium levels accurately. Foods with low levels of potassium can easily exceed the daily limit if doubled or tripled. So, if you’re a big eater, measure your food and consult with your doctor on strategies to accurately track your potassium intake. Eat fruits like berries and grapes and vegetables like kale, cauliflower, and corn. All of these choices have very low potassium so multiple servings don’t have as large an impact on your renal health.
Sample Low Potassium Breakfast
Try this sample breakfast for a low-potassium way to kickstart the morning.
- One English muffin with two teaspoons of low-calorie margarine
- 1.5 cups of puffed corn cereal with soy milk
- Two medium fresh eggs
- Cup of coffee combined with an artificial sweetener, such as Splenda, and one ounce of non-dairy, fat-free coffee creamer.
Sample Low Potassium Dinner
Choose lean meats such as fish or chicken to maintain potassium levels. Here is a sample dinner that is low in potassium.
- Medium chicken breast (skin removed, baked)
- One cup of green beans with low-fat margarine and no salt added
- White rice with two teaspoons of olive oil