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What Is Potassium?

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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 medications. If you have kidney problems, excess potassium can build up to dangerous levels in your blood. This can lead to muscle weakness or irregular heartbeats.

Why Follow a High-potassium Diet?

When combined with a low-sodium diet, a diet high in potassium can help lower high blood pressure. This can help lower the risk of stroke and other complications of high blood pressure. However, anyone with kidney problems should not follow a high-potassium diet without first checking with their doctor.

High-potassium Foods

The following foods contain more than 200 milligrams of potassium per serving and are therefore considered to be high in potassium.

Fruits

  • Apricots
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dates
  • Dried fruits
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Orange juice
  • Papaya
  • Pomegranate
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Prunes
  • Prune juice
  • Raisins

Vegetables

  • Acorn squash
  • Artichoke
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Baked beans
  • Butternut squash
  • Beets
  • Black beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Carrots
  • 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 juices

Other Foods

  • Bran/Bran Products
  • Chocolate
  • Granola
  • Milk, all types
  • Molasses
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Salt substitutes
  • Salt free broth
  • Yogurt
Low-potassium Foods

The following foods are considered to be low in potassium. Realize, however, that eating more than one of serving of any of these foods can make it a high-potassium food.

Fruits

  • Apple
  • Apple juice
  • Apple sauce
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Fruit cocktail
  • Grapes
  • Grape juice
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerine
  • Watermelon

Vegetables

  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms, fresh
  • Onions
  • Radish
  • Water chestnuts

Other Foods

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread and bread products (*not whole grains)
  • Oatmeal

RESOURCES:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
http://www.eatright.org

American Society for Nutrition
http://www.nutrition.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

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

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

References:

Hyperkalemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 14, 2013. Accessed October 21, 2013.

Hypokalemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 15, 2012. Accessed October 21, 2013.

Kidney disease: eating a safe amount of potassium. US Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: http://www.veteranshealthlibrary.org/RelatedItems/142,83182_VA. Accessed October 21, 2013.

Kidney disease: High- and low-potassium foods. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=4294967541. Updated December 2012. Accessed October 21, 2013.

Potassium. American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6801. Updated January 2013. Accessed October 21, 2013.

Potassium and your CKD diet. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/potassium.cfm. Accessed October 21, 2013.



Last reviewed October 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

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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