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Potassium and Your Diet

Potassium and your diet

Potassium is a mineral found in our foods.  Healthy kidneys maintain a normal balance of potassium by eliminating any excess in the urine.  Diseased kidneys are unable to get rid of the potassium adequately.  Consequently, the amount of potassium in the blood may increase to dangerously elevated levels.  This may cause an irregular heartbeat and occur without any warning.  High levels of potassium can even cause the heart to stop.

How do I know if my Potassium is too high or too low?

Potassium is measured by a common blood test. Your kidney doctor will check your potassium level often and it is one of the reasons it is so important to have your lab work done before coming to your office visit. A safe level is between 3.5 and 5.5 MEq/L.  Your doctor will tell you if you need to change the amount of potassium in your diet.

The following is a list of various foods that are high in potassium

HIGH POTASSIUM FRUITS/ JUICE HIGH POTASSIUM VEGETABLES
Apricot and Apricot Nectar
Avocado
Banana
Cantaloupe
Date
Fig
Grapefruit and Grapefruit Juice
Honeydew
Mango
Nectarine
Orange and Orange Juice
Papaya
Plums
Prunes and Prune Juice
Raisins
Watermelon

Artichokes
Beans, any dried
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
French Fries
Lima Beans
Mushrooms
Parsnips
Potatoes
Pumpkin
Spinach
Tomatoes and Tomato Juice or Sauce
Winter Squash
Vegetable juice

 

Miscellaneous
Bran Cereal
Chocolate Candy
Coconut
Coffee, Cocoa
Nuts
Milk
Salt Substitute

 

The following food are low in potassium.
In general, canned fruits and vegetables are lower in potassium than fresh or frozen.

LOW POTASSIUM FRUITS LOW POTASSIUM VEGETABLES
Apple
Apple Juice
Applesauce
Blueberries
Cherries
Cranberries
Cranberry Juice
Fruit Cocktail
Grapes
Grape Juice
Lemon
Peach
Pear
Pear Nectar
Pineapple
Strawberries
Tangerine

 
Asparagus (small amounts)
Beets
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Corn
Cucumber
Eggplant
Green beans
Green pepper
Lettuce
Okra
Onion
Peas
Potato-Mashed only
Radish
Wax beans
Zucchini
Eating more than one portion (½ cup) can make a lower potassium food into a higher potassium food.

 

Where do I go for more information?

Contact the following organizations for more information, or ask your dietician:

National Kidney Foundation
www.kidney.org
(800) 622-9010

The American Association of Kidney Patients
www.aakp.org
(800) 636-8100

The National Kidney Disease Education Program
www.nkdep.nih.gov
(866)454-3639