What Foods to Eat to Lower Potassium Levels?

Reviewed on 4/14/2022
Healthy whole foods, including apricots, chickpeas, parsley, and tomatoes
Eating a low potassium diet and avoiding high-potassium foods can help manage symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

A low potassium diet may be used to help manage symptoms of chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition in which the kidneys are damaged and are unable to filter blood properly. 

Potassium is a mineral found in many foods that helps maintain muscle function and keeps the heartbeat regular. Patients with kidney disease may need to limit the amount of potassium in the diet.

Patients with kidney disease and high potassium levels may experience symptoms such as: 

  • Weakness
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting 
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Slow pulse 
  • Heart attack

Foods low in potassium that can be eaten on a low potassium diet include:

Low Potassium Foods
Food Category Examples
Fruits
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerine
  • Watermelon
Vegetables
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Asparagus 
  • Beans, green or wax
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower 
  • Celery
  • Corn 
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Radish
  • Rhubarb
  • Water chestnuts
  • Watercress
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini squash
Carbohydrates
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread (not whole grains)
Desserts
  • Pies without chocolate or high potassium fruits
  • Cookies without nuts or chocolate
Beverages
  • Coffee (limited to 8 ounces)
  • Tea (limited to 16 ounces)

What Foods Are High in Potassium to Avoid?

Foods that are higher in potassium (more than 200 mg per portion) to avoid include: 

High Potassium  (More Than 200 mg per Portion) Foods to Avoid
Food Category Examples
Fruits
  • Apricots
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dates
  • Dried figs
  • Dried fruits
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Pomegranate
  • Prunes 
  • Raisins
Vegetables
  • Acorn squash
  • Artichoke
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Butternut squash
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Greens, except kale
  • Hubbard Squash
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mushrooms, white
  • Okra
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes, white and sweet
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabagas
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes/tomato products
  • Vegetable juices
Beans and legumes
  • Baked beans
  • Refried beans
  • Black beans
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Lentils 
  • Legumes
Other foods
  • Bran/bran products
  • Chocolate
  • Granola
  • Milk, all types
  • Molasses
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Salt substitutes/lite salt
  • Salt free broth
  • Yogurt
  • Snuff/chewing tobacco
Beverages
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Orange juice
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Prune Juice
 

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How Can I Keep Levels of Potassium in My Diet Low?

In addition to consuming foods low in potassium and avoiding foods high in the mineral, additional tips to keeping potassium levels in the diet low include: 

  • Most foods have some potassium and serving size is important
    • Too much of a low potassium food can become a high potassium food if it is consumed in excess
  • High potassium vegetables can be made lower in potassium by leaching, a process by which some potassium is pulled out of the vegetable
    • How to leach vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, winter squash, and rutabagas:
    • Peel and place vegetables in cold water so they won’t darken
    • Slice vegetable to 1/8 inch thick
    • Rinse in warm water for a few seconds
    • Soak vegetables for a minimum of two hours in warm water with a ratio of ten times the amount of water to the amount of vegetables
      • Change the water every four hours if soaking longer
    • Rinse vegetables under warm water again for a few seconds
    • Cook vegetables with five times the amount of water to the amount of vegetable
  • Avoid drinking or using liquid from canned fruits and vegetables, or the juices from cooked meat
  • Patients on dialysis must take care to get all treatment or exchanges they are prescribed

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Reviewed on 4/14/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd

https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/potassium