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Monday, March 24, 2008

Potassium and Your CKD Diet

What is potassium and why is it important to you?

Potassium is a mineral found in many of the foods you eat. It plays a role in keeping your heartbeat regular and your muscles working right. It is the job of healthy kidneys to keep the right amount of potassium in your body. However, when your kidneys are not healthy, you often need to limit certain foods that can increase the potassium in your blood to a dangerous level. You may feel some weakness, numbness and tingling if your potassium is at a high level. If your potassium becomes too high, it can cause an irregular heartbeat or a heart attack.

What is a safe level of potassium in my blood?

Ask your doctor or dietitian about your monthly blood potassium level and enter it here:

If it is 3.5-5.0………………………You are in the SAFE zone
If it is 5.1-6.0………………………You are in the CAUTION zone
If it is higher than 6.0……………..You are in the DANGER zone

How can I keep my potassium level from getting too high?

  • You should limit foods that are high in potassium. Your renal dietitian will help you plan your diet so you are getting the right amount of potassium.
  • Eat a variety of foods but in moderation.
  • If you want to include some high potassium vegetable in your diet, leach them before using. Leaching is a process by which some potassium can be pulled out of the vegetable. Instructions for leaching selected high potassium vegetables can be found at the end of this fact sheet. Check with your dietitian on the amount of leached high potassium vegetables that can be safely included in your diet.
  • Do not drink or use the liquid from canned fruits and vegetables, or the juices from cooked meat.
  • Remember that almost all foods have some potassium. The size of the serving is very important. A large amount of a low potassium food can turn into a high- potassium food.
  • If you are on dialysis, be sure to get all the treatment or exchanges prescribed to you.

What foods are high in potassium (greater than 200 milligrams per portion)?

The following table lists foods that are high in potassium. The portion size is ½ cup unless otherwise stated. Please be sure to check portion sizes. While all the foods on this list are high in potassium, some are higher than others.

High-Potassium Foods
Fruits Vegetables Other Foods
Apricot , raw (2 medium)
dried (5 halves)
Acorn Squash
Bran/Bran products
Avocado (¼ whole) Bamboo Shoots Chocolate (1.5-2 ounces)
Banana (½ whole) Baked Beans Granola
Cantaloupe Butternut Squash Milk, all types (1 cup)
Dates (5 whole) Refried Beans Molasses (1 Tablespoon)
Dried fruits Beets, fresh then boiled Nutritional Supplements:
Use only under the
direction of your doctor
or dietitian. Nuts/seeds
Figs, dried Black Beans
Grapefruit Juice Broccoli, cooked
Honeydew Brussels Sprouts Nuts and Seeds (1 ounce)
Kiwi (1 medium) Chinese Cabbage Peanut Butter (2 tbs.)
Mango(1 medium) Carrots, raw Salt Substitutes/Lite Salt
Nectarine(1 medium) Dried Beans and Peas Salt Free Broth
Orange(1 medium) Greens, except Kale Snuff/Chewing Tobacco
Orange Juice Hubbard Squash Yogurt
Papaya (½ whole) Kohlrabi
Pomegranate (1 whole) Lentils
Pomegranate Juice Legumes
Prunes Mushrooms, canned
Prune Juice Parsnips
Raisins Potatoes, white and sweet
Spinach, cooked
Tomatoes/Tomato products
Vegetable Juices

What foods are low in potassium?

The following table list foods which are low in potassium. A portion is ½ cup unless otherwise noted. Eating more than 1 portion can make a lower potassium food into a higher potassium food.

Low-Potassium Foods
Fruits Vegetables Other Foods
Apple (1 medium) Alfalfa sprouts Rice
Apple Juice Asparagus (6 spears) Noodles
Applesauce Beans, green or wax Pasta
Apricots, canned in juice Cabbage, green and red Carrots, cooked Bread and bread products: (Not Whole Grains)
Blackberries Cauliflower Cake: angel, yellow
Blueberries Celery (1 stalk) Coffee: limit to 8 ounces
Cherries Corn, fresh (½ ear) frozen (½ cup) Pies without chocolate or high potassium fruit
Cranberries Cucumber Cookies without nuts or chocolate
Fruit Cocktail Eggplant Tea: limit to 16 ounces
Grapes Cucumber
Grape Juice Eggplant
Grapefruit (½ whole) Kale
Mandarin Oranges Lettuce
Peaches, fresh (1 small) canned (½ cup) Mixed Vegetablesa
Pears, fresh (1 small) canned (½ cup) Mushrooms, fresh
Pineapple Okra
Pineapple Juice Onionss
Plums (1 whole) Parsley
Raspberries Peas, green Peppers
Strawberries Radish
Tangerine (1 whole) Rhubarb
Watermelon(limit to 1 cup) Water Chestnuts, canned


Yellow Squash

Zucchini Squash

How do I get some of the potassium out of my favorite high-potassium vegetables ?

The process of leaching will help pull potassium out of some high-potassium vegetables. It is important to remember that leaching will not pull all of the potassium out of the vegetable. You must still limit the amount of leached high-potassium vegetables you eat. Ask your dietitian about the amount of leached vegetables that you can safely have in your diet.

How to leach vegetables.

For Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Beets, and Rutabagas:

  1. Peel and place the vegetable in cold water so they won’t darken.
  2. Slice vegetable 1/8 inch thick.
  3. Rinse in warm water for a few seconds.
  4. Soak for a minimum of two hours in warm water. Use ten times the amount of water to the amount of vegetables. If soaking longer, change the water every four hours.
  5. Rinse under warm water again for a few seconds.
  6. Cook vegetable with five times the amount of water to the amount of vegetable.

For Squash, Mushrooms, Cauliflower, and Frozen Greens:

  1. Allow frozen vegetable to thaw to room temperature and drain.
  2. Rinse fresh or frozen vegetables in warm water for a few seconds.
  3. Soak for a minimum of two hours in warm water. Use ten times the amount of water to the amount of vegetables. If soaking longer, change the water every four hours.
  4. Rinse under warm water again for a few seconds.
  5. Cook the usual way, but with five times the amount of water to the amount of vegetable.

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