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When Potassium Needs Are Low

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Usually I am pushing people to try to get more potassium into their diets because of the numerous health benefits it confers, such as keeping blood pressure in check and helping to maintain strong bones.

But we've received a request from a reader who has asked for some guidance on a low potassium diet, and we do strive to meet our readers' needs. Again, I'm usually a big fan of potassium, but for folks with kidney disease, high levels of this mineral in the blood can be dangerous. They are, therefore, instructed to avoid foods high in potassium to keep their levels under control.

In general processed foods are low in potassium, while fresh fruits and veggies are high. But we don't want to eliminate fruits and veggies completely on a low potassium diet. Luckily, there are lots of fruits and vegetables that can be eaten by those with kidney disease that are lower in this mineral.

Here are lists of F&Vs that are considered low potassium and medium potassium. Unless otherwise noted, servings should be 1/2 cup. (I wish I could put these lists in a table so they're nice and neat, but blogger.com doesn't have that feature. So please bear with me and scroll scroll scroll.)

If you've been prescribed a low potassium diet, limit low potassium F&Vs to 2-3 servings a day and medium potassium F&Vs to 1-2 servings a day.

Fruits Low in Potassium:
Apple juice
Apple sauce
Apricots, canned
Berries: blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries
Cranberry juice and sauce
Figs, canned
Fruit cocktail
Grapes, canned, raw, or juice
Lemon
Lime
Nectars: peach, pear, papaya, apricot
Mandarin oranges
Peaches, canned
Pears, canned
Pineapple, raw or canned
Plums, canned
Tangerine

Fruits Medium in Potassium:
Apple, raw, 1 large
Apricots, raw, 2 medium
Cherries, raw (15) or canned
Figs, raw, 2 medium
Grapefruit, ½ medium
Grapefruit juice
Peach, raw, 1 medium
Pear, raw, 1 medium
Pineapple juice
Plums, raw, 2 medium

Vegetables Low in Potassium:
Bamboo shoots
Bean sprouts
Beans, green or wax
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celery
Cucumber
Eggplant
Hominy
Leek
Lettuce: romaine, iceberg, leaf, endive, watercress
Mushrooms
Onions
Peppers, sweet or hot
Radishes
Turnips
Water chestnuts
Rhubarb

Vegetables Medium in Potassium:
Asparagus
Beets
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Carrots
Corn, canned or 1 small ear
Greens: collard, mustard, kale, dandelion, beet, turnip
Mixed vegetables
Okra
Peas, green
Rubabaga
Summer squash: yellow crookneck, white scallop, zucchini

Have a fruit and veggie filled day, low potassium or not!
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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