If you follow a healthy lifestyle, you may already exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.
But while your body needs minerals and nutrients to function properly, too much of some minerals, like potassium, can be potentially harmful.
Potassium plays a role in healthy cell, nerve, and muscle function. But you don’t want your potassium blood level to get too low or too high.
A healthy range is between 3.5 and 5.0 mmol/L. Hyperkalemia, or high potassium, occurs when the level of potassium in your blood goes above this range.
When this happens, the muscles that control your heartbeat and breathing can’t function properly. This can lead to complications such as an irregular heartbeat and even a heart attack.
High potassium levels can even cause:
- digestive problems
One way to manage your potassium level is to eat a low potassium diet. Here’s a list of foods to limit along with healthy meals you can make for lunch or dinner.
Being on a low potassium diet doesn’t mean avoiding high potassium foods. Instead, you’ll want to limit consumption of certain foods.
You’ll also want to reduce your overall potassium intake to no more than 2,000 milligrams (mg) per day.
Several foods contain potassium, but some have a considerable amount of potassium compared to others. Potassium is found in:
- starchy foods
High potassium foods to limit include the following fruits:
Vegetables to avoid or limit include:
- winter squash
Other high potassium foods to limit include:
- breakfast cereals with dried fruit
- milk and dairy products
- salt substitutes
- orange juice
- chickpeas and lentils
If you need nutrition advice, talk with your doctor or a dietitian.
If you need to eat less potassium, here’s a look at a few low potassium meals to prepare this week.
1. Chili rice with beef
This recipe includes 427 mg of potassium per serving. Find the full recipe here.
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 cup onions, chopped
- 2 cups rice, cooked
- 1/2 tsp. chili con carne seasoning powder
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. sage
2. Parsley burger
This recipe includes 289 mg of potassium per serving. Find the full recipe here.
- 1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. parsley flakes
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
- 1/4 tsp. oregano
3. Taco stuffing
This recipe includes 258 mg of potassium per serving. Find the full recipe here.
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
- 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
4. Easy tuna casserole
This recipe includes 93 mg of potassium per serving. Find the full recipe here.
- 3 cups cooked macaroni
- 1 canned tuna, drain
- 1 10-ounce can of condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cup French fried onions
5. Angel hair pasta with peppers and chicken
This recipe includes 191 mg of potassium per serving. Find the full recipe here.
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 large red bell peppers, julienned
- 3/4 can of sliced water chestnuts, 8 oz
- 1 cup sugar snap pea pods
- 6 thick slices of smoked deli chicken
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 packages angel hair pasta, 8 oz.
6. Apple stuffed pork chops
This recipe includes 170 mg of potassium per serving. Find the full recipe here.
- 1 tbsp. chopped onion
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 cups chopped apples
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 6 thick pork chops
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
There are several other ways to reduce your potassium levels in addition to making changes to your diet.
Depending on the severity of your hyperkalemia, your doctor may recommend a diuretic to help flush excess potassium from your body through urination.
Or, your doctor may prescribe a potassium binder. This is a medication that binds to the excess potassium in your bowel, which you’ll then release through bowel activity.
Most people don’t need to adopt a low potassium diet plan as the kidneys can usually filter excess potassium from the body.
But if you have diabetes or kidney disease, which prevents your kidneys from working properly, your doctor may suggest a low potassium diet.
If you have kidney disease, you may also need to limit:
If you have diabetes, you may also need to manage the number of carbs you eat. A registered dietitian can help you plan meals to meet your specific needs.
Eating a low potassium diet can help treat hyperkalemia and prevent potentially life threatening heart complications.
If you develop heart palpitations, chest pain, numbness, muscle weakness, or tingling, see your doctor immediately.
While switching to a low potassium meal plan works for some people, others may require medication to keep their potassium level within a safe range.