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Low Potassium Diet: Everything You Need to Know

Eating a banana or a baked potato with the skin on provides you with a good dose of potassium. However, high potassium levels can throw electrolyte levels out of balance if you have compromised kidney function or chronic renal illness. That is when your healthcare professional will recommend a low-potassium diet.

If your doctor recommends a low potassium diet, incorporating low potassium foods from each food group will help you stay the healthiest. 

Understanding a Low-Potassium Diet

Hyperkalemia is a condition where you have excess potassium in your blood. In such cases, doctors may suggest a low-potassium diet. It is one of the first therapies, defined as a dietary consumption of potassium between 2000 and 3000 mg/day. 

Potassium is omnipresent in most meals. But if you’re on a diet limiting your potassium intake, you must avoid foods high in potassium. You should also avoid consuming large quantities of any beverage that contains potassium. Even small amounts can rapidly raise potassium levels in your body.

A low potassium diet is essential, mainly when diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Sometimes you need to follow this diet long-term, and other times you will only need to follow it for a short while. Therefore it is essential to see your doctor regularly to review your diet. Remember, you are not aiming to avoid all foods containing potassium. By subscribing to HealthifyMe, you can get the proper guidance on making simple yet effective diet changes. 

The HealthifyMe Note

A nutritionist or registered dietitian can help create a low-potassium meal plan depending on height and weight. The key is to choose foods with a low potassium level, when possible, but not totally eliminate a food group. 

Foods to Eat

You can incorporate a range of nutrient-dense foods with low potassium levels in your diet. Listed below are a few of them:

Protein

Potassium is abundant in the majority of animal and plant proteins. Some low-potassium, high-protein food sources include: 

ChickenEgg WhiteFishPeanut butterTofuEdamame

Vegetables

Fresh produce is typically rich in potassium and raw vegetables have a very high potassium content. You need to limit your intake or boil them to reduce their potassium content for a low-potassium diet. You can also use several vegetables from cans as long as they have been rinsed and drained. A few are listed below:

Alfalfa sproutsAsparagusBeansCabbage, green and redCarrots, cookedCauliflowerCeleryCornCucumberEggplantOnionsParsleyGreen peasPeppersRadish

Grains

Look for rice cereals or bread prepared from refined flour instead of whole grains and bran. White rice and pasta noodles made from refined white flour work on a low-potassium diet.

Fruits 

A few of the low potassium fruits to include are:

AppleApricotsBlackberriesCherriesGrapesMandarin orangesPeachesPineapplePlumsWatermelon

Dairy 

You might be able to consume a modest amount of milk or yoghurt every day. However, listed below are a few dairy products low in potassium. 

No-fat milkCottage cheeseWhole milk

Beverages

Dehydration can throw off your body’s electrolyte balance and cause hyperkalemia. Water is the best option for remaining hydrated. However, fresh lemonade, the juice produced from low-potassium fruit, and strained frozen fruit puree are also good drinks.

Foods to Avoid

Almost all foods contain potassium, so the only way out is to choose foods with a low potassium level. 

Foods with high levels of potassium are:

Fruits

The following fruits have higher potassium content:

AvocadosBananasMango KiwiPrunesPomegranateOrangePapaya

Vegetables

Cooked broccoliBrussels sproutsChinese cabbageRaw carrotsGreens other than kalePotatoesCooked pumpkinTomatoesSpinachWhite mushrooms

Dairy 

A low-potassium diet requires avoiding or limiting the consumption of following milk products.

Condensed milkDried milkEvaporated milk

Protein

Steer clear of processed meats containing potassium-containing additives such as sausage, bacon, and lunch meats. When cooking meat, drain the liquids and avoid utilising them to make sauces or gravies.

Sweets

Desserts high in potassium often contain nuts, syrups, and chocolate, among other ingredients. Therefore, you must be careful when choosing cookies, pastries, and ice cream.

You need to avoid the following sweets and snacks:

Biscuits containing nuts/ chocolate/ dried fruitFudgeLiquoriceSesame snacksToffeeAll standard chocolate barsSweets containing evaporated or condensed milk/ nuts/ dried fruit

The HealthifyMe Note

You must avoid foods with more than 200 mg of potassium per serving. Foods with the highest potassium concentrations are healthy, but if your kidneys cannot handle the potassium, they are not healthy for you. Also, limit your portion size since potassium can quickly add up if you eat a large portion. 

Measure the serving size when calculating the amount of potassium in food. For example, a large serving of low-potassium food might have more potassium than a small serving of high-potassium food. Plus, your height and weight dictate the range of servings you need in a low potassium meal plan. 

An example of one such plan includes:

Breakfast

Oatmeal: ½ cupBlueberries: 1 cupEgg whites: 2

Mid-morning

Bean sprouts: 1 cup

Lunch

White rice: 1 cupPeas curry: ½ cupCucumber salad: ½ cup

Evening Snacks

Digestive biscuits: 2Herbal tea: 1 cup

Dinner 

Roti: 3Chicken curry: ½ cupBroccoli salad: ½ cup

Benefits of Eating Low-Potassium Foods

Healthy potassium levels are crucial because they keep your heart, muscles, and nerves functioning at their best. A low-potassium diet benefits people with specific medical disorders, including heart or renal problems.

The benefits of potassium-restricted diets for particular groups of people, such as dialysis patients with kidney diseases, have been the subject of numerous research. However, there is conflicting information regarding the effectiveness of a strict low-potassium diet because it is unclear whether the body processes all dietary sources of potassium (both plant and animal) equally. But, because there are no other dietary treatments for hyperkalemia, most researchers believe low-potassium diets should work positively for the body.

Cooking Tips for Low-Potassium Diet

Leaching can bring down the amount of potassium in some vegetables. It is the process of soaking raw or frozen vegetables in water for at least two hours before cooking. Leaching helps pull some potassium from the soaked foods and into the water. 

Some other cooking tips to follow are:

Peel the vegetables with skin (e.g., potatoes, carrots, beets, rutabagas) before slicing. Rinse the cut vegetables in warm water.Soak the vegetables for two hours or overnight in unsalted warm water.Choose pepper, herbs and spices to flavour dishes. Do not use salt substitutes since they come from potassium salts. 

Conclusion

Reducing potassium intake will be essential to your daily routine if you have renal disease. A low-potassium diet can support the health of your kidneys, but only when the doctors ask you to do so. An average person with a healthy body need not follow a low potassium diet. Always make an effort to include a well-balanced meal. By figuring out a balanced meal with reduced potassium intake and using your culinary skills, you can learn how to enjoy the best meals without being at risk of potassium buildup.

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