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

  • 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


  • 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.

  • 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
(800) 622-9010

The American Association of Kidney Patients
(800) 636-8100

The National Kidney Disease Education Program