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What is Potassium?

Potassium is a mineral found in many different foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, dried beans, and peas. Potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure and also helps muscles, including the heart, to contract properly.

Why Follow a Low-Potassium Diet?

Your doctor may recommend following a low-potassium diet if you have kidney problems or are taking certain medicines. If you have kidney problems, excess potassium can build up to dangerous levels in your blood. This can lead to confusion, irregular heartbeats , or a heart attack .

Foods High and Low in Potassium
Food With High Potassium

The high-potassium foods on the table contain more than 200 milligrams of potassium per serving. This is considered to be high in potassium. In general, you should avoid these foods if you need to limit how much potassium you eat. However, you may be able to work with a dietitian to add small portions of your favorite foods.

Food With Low Potassium

The foods in the right-hand column are considered to be low in potassium. Remember, though, that eating more than one serving of any of these foods can make it a high-potassium food. All servings are ½ cup (unless otherwise noted).

Food CategoryFood With High PotassiumFood With Low Potassium
Fruits
  • Apricots—2 medium raw, 5 dry halves
  • Avocado—¼
  • Banana—½
  • Cantaloupe—½ cup
  • Dates—5 whole
  • Dried fruits—½ cup
  • Figs—dried, ½ cup
  • Grapefruit juice—½ cup
  • Honeydew—½ cup
  • Kiwi—1 medium
  • Mango—1 medium
  • Nectarine—1 medium
  • Orange—1 medium
  • Orange juice—½ cup
  • Papaya —½ whole
  • Pomegranate—1 whole
  • Pomegranate juice—½ cup
  • Prunes—½ cup
  • Prune juice—½ cup
  • Raisins—½ cup
  • Apple (1 medium), apple juice, apple sauce
  • Apricots—canned in juice
  • Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Fruit cocktail
  • Grapes, grape juice
  • Grapefruit—½ whole
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Peaches—1 small fresh, ½ cup canned
  • Pears—1 small fresh, ½ cup canned
  • Pineapple, pineapple juice
  • Plums—1 whole
  • Tangerine—1 whole
  • Watermelon—limit to 1 cup
Vegetables

All portions are ½ cup.

  • Acorn squash
  • Artichoke
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Baked beans
  • Butternut squash
  • Beets, fresh then boiled
  • Black beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Carrots, raw
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Greens, except kale
  • Hubbard squash
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lentils
  • Legumes
  • Mushrooms, canned
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes, white and sweet
  • Pumpkin
  • Refried beans
  • Rutabagas
  • Spinach, cooked
  • Tomatoes, tomato products
  • Vegetable juice
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Asparagus—6 spears
  • Beans, wax or green
  • Cabbage, green and red
  • Carrots, cooked
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery—1 stalk
  • Corn—½ ear fresh,½ cup frozen)
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Leached potatoes *
  • Lettuce
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Mushrooms, fresh
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peas, green
  • Peppers
  • Radish
  • Rhubarb
  • Water chestnuts, canned
  • Watercress
Other Foods
  • Bran/bran Products—½ cup
  • Chocolate—1.5-2 ounces
  • Granola—½ cup
  • Milk, all types —1 cup
  • Molasses—1 tablespoon
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Nuts and seeds —1 ounce
  • Peanut butter—2 tablespoons
  • Salt substitutes —½ cup
  • Salt-free broth—½ cup
  • Yogurt—½ cup
  • Bread and bread products (not whole grains)
  • Cake—angel food cake, yellow cake
  • Coffee—limit to 8 ounces
  • Cookies (without nuts or chocolate)
  • Noodles
  • Pasta
  • Pies (without chocolate or high-potassium food)
  • Rice
  • Tea—limit to 16 ounces
Other
  • Snuff or chewing tobacco

*To leach potatoes: Peel and cut them into small pieces. Soak them in a large amount of water for at least two hours. (Use at least 5 cups of water for every 1 cup of potatoes.) Drain, rinse, and cook as desired.

Suggestions
  • Eat a variety of low-potassium foods. Limit or avoid high-potassium foods.
  • Be aware of the foods that you eat. You may want to keep a food log.
  • Most food has some potassium. Read food labels to find out how much potassium a food has per serving.
  • Do not drink juice from canned fruit, canned vegetables, or cooked meat.
  • Work with a dietitian to come up with an individualized food plan.

RESOURCES:

American Dietetic Association
http://www.eatright.org/

Nutrition.gov
http://www.nutrition.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca/

The Kidney Foundation of Canada
http://www.kidney.ca/

References:

American Dietetic Association. Nutrition Care Manual website. Available at: http://www.nutritioncaremanual.org . Accessed January 20, 2010.

Potassium and your CKD diet. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidney.org/atozPrint.cfm?id=103 . Accessed January 20, 2010.



Last reviewed March 2013 by Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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