Potassium is an important mineral that we need for normal nerve, muscle, and heart function. It also plays a role in managing blood pressure.
Ideally, your body strictly controls the amount of potassium in your blood. Hyperkalemia occurs when the amount of potassium in your blood becomes too high. This can happen when you have kidney disease or take medications that raise your potassium level.
If you’re at risk of hyperkalemia, you’ll likely have blood work done regularly. If the results show that your potassium is too high, you may need to change the medications you take. Eating less potassium may help manage hyperkalemia in some cases.
But making dietary changes can be tough. Food is an important part of your culture and celebrations. In this article, we’ll delve into how your diet can influence hyperkalemia and then share some ingredient swaps and new recipes you can try.
The body regulates potassium to maintain blood levels. The level of potassium in the blood can sometimes get too high. When this happens, it’s called hyperkalemia.
Some risk factors for developing hyperkalemia include:
- chronic kidney disease
- taking medication that raises potassium levels, including some used for high blood pressure
- taking potassium supplements
- using potassium-based salt substitutes
If you have hyperkalemia, it’s important to find out what may have contributed to it. If the cause is a medication or supplement, you’ll likely be told to stop or change it.
Reducing the amount of potassium you eat may be helpful in some cases. Potassium can be found in many foods, including:
- whole grains
It’s also used as a food additive and is part of ingredients, such as potassium chloride, potassium citrate, and potassium phosphate. There’s
Further research suggests that plant-based potassium may not affect blood potassium levels as much as initially thought. The potassium in these foods isn’t fully absorbed in the body.
There may also be risks to cutting down so much on potassium-containing foods; they can offer many other healthy nutrients. Still, the National Kidney Foundation recommends lowering potassium intake as part of managing hyperkalemia.
It can be challenging to follow a reduced-potassium diet. Consider working with a dietitian who specializes in kidney health if you need some extra support.
Remember that not everyone with kidney disease needs to limit their intake of potassium. Check with your doctor or a dietitian before starting a reduced-potassium diet.
If you’re a fan of Italian dishes, you know that tomatoes are often featured in these meals. Tomatoes, especially tomato sauces, are high in potassium.
Here are some ways to reduce the potassium in your Italian meals:
- Enjoy steamed mussels and clams, a variety of fish and seafood, and grilled meats.
- Try clam sauce, wine sauce, pesto, or piccata sauce instead of marinara or tomato-based sauces.
- Add flavor with fresh herbs, garlic, and onions.
- Choose sourdough or Italian bread instead of whole grain.
- Make soups with small meatballs instead of beans.
Basil Pesto Pasta
This pasta recipe uses a basil pesto sauce instead of a tomato-based sauce. Fresh garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese add great flavor. This recipe is adapted from one posted by the Kidney Community Kitchen.
- 10 ounces (oz) dry pasta
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped
- 2 cups fresh basil (equal to about 1/2 cup chopped basil)
- 2 tablespoons (tbsp) olive oil
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine garlic, shredded parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and basil.
- Combine pasta with basil pesto sauce and oil.
- Enjoy! This pasta dish is delicious served hot or cold.
Many traditional Chinese foods are naturally low in potassium. But many sauces in Chinese cooking, including hoisin sauce and soy sauce, are high in sodium. Some are also sources of potassium. For kidney health, it’s also sometimes recommended to limit high sodium foods.
Here are some strategies to reduce the potassium in Chinese dishes:
- Include naturally low-potassium foods, such as rice, rice noodles, fish, poultry, and meats.
- Choose lower-potassium vegetables, such as gai lan (Chinese broccoli), broccolini, gai choy (Chinese mustard greens), choy sum (a type of Chinese cabbage), bean sprouts, green beans, and snow peas.
- If using
canned bamboo shoots, rinse them to get rid of excess potassium and sodium.
- Check the ingredient lists on sauces and avoid additives, such as potassium chloride or potassium sorbate.
- Reduce the amount of sauce you use or dilute it with water.
Spicy Vegetable Lo Mein
This recipe includes several lower-potassium vegetables. The flavor comes with a reduced amount of soy sauce, along with sesame oil, fresh garlic, and ginger. This recipe is adapted from one posted by Fresenius Kidney Care.
- 8 oz lo mein noodles or white spaghetti, linguini, or fettuccini noodles
- 1 teaspoon (tsp) sesame oil
- 1 small bunch of broccolini or Chinese broccoli
- 6 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp sriracha or other Asian hot sauce
- 2 tbsp peanut or canola oil
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
- If desired, break noodles into smaller pieces (e.g., half the length of a spaghetti noodle) before cooking. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well to remove excess water. Return the noodles to the pot. Stir in the sesame oil to coat the noodles.
- Remove and discard the bottom 1/4 inch of the Chinese broccoli or broccolini. Cut the rest of it into 2-inch pieces. Thinly slice the shiitake mushroom caps.
- In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and hot sauce. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced garlic and ginger. Stir for a few seconds, until you can smell it.
- Next, add the broccoli or broccolini and shiitake mushrooms to the pan. Cook until tender-crisp.
- Add the soy sauce mix to the pan with the vegetables and stir until heated.
- Finally, add the noodles to the mixture. Stir until coated with sauce and heated through.
Mexican food is bursting with bright colors and flavors. There are also many sources of potassium. Beans, tomato salsa, and guacamole are all high-potassium foods. You can reduce the amount of potassium in Mexican foods by getting creative with other ingredients.
Here are some tips to enjoy Mexican dishes on a reduced-potassium diet:
- Use sour cream or green salsa instead of guacamole or regular salsa made with tomatoes.
- Use a few pieces of avocado instead of scoops of guacamole, so you’re consuming less potassium overall.
- Use meat, poultry, or fish as the main protein source instead of beans.
- If you love using beans, consider using a mix of beans and meat to reduce the total potassium content of the meal.
Chicken Taco Bowls
This taco recipe uses chicken instead of beans to reduce potassium content. It includes green salsa, which has less potassium than traditional tomato salsa. This taco recipe also has several topping options to add interest and flavor. This recipe is adapted from one posted by Fresenius Kidney Care.
- 8 corn or white tortillas (6-inch)
- cooking spray
- 1 (approx. 12 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup green salsa
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese
- can be served with sour cream or Greek yogurt, diced tomato, chopped lettuce, sliced black olives
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- To make the taco bowls, heat tortillas according to package directions to soften them, so they’re easier to shape. Spray both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray. Turn a standard 12-cup muffin tin upside down. Form a bowl by placing a tortilla in between four of the muffin cups. You can make four taco bowls on each muffin tin.
- Bake tortillas in the muffin tin at 375°F for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on cooling racks. Repeat with the next four tortillas to make the rest of the taco bowls.
- In a medium bowl, toss the chicken pieces with the garlic powder and salt.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add chicken. Cook on all sides until the outside is starting to brown.
- Add salsa to the chicken in the pan and continue to stir until the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F.
- To assemble taco bowls, scoop chicken into the bowl. Top with cheese and other toppings as desired.
Several soul food dishes are high in potassium. High-potassium soul foods include beans, peas, sweet potatoes, and some cooked greens.
Here are some ways to enjoy soul food while being mindful of potassium intake:
- Corn is a low-potassium vegetable that can be used as a side, or in corn fritters or cornbread.
- Use okra or cabbage, which are lower in potassium compared to beet, mustard, or turnip greens.
- Lower the potassium content of sweet potatoes by using a double boiling method: Peel and cut into strips, bring water to a boil, drain water, then boil sweet potatoes again in new water until cooked.
- Soak dried legumes for 12 hours and then discard the liquid before cooking to lower the potassium content.
Corn is low in potassium and very versatile. Enjoy corn fritters with a smaller side of leafy greens to reduce the overall potassium content of your meal. This recipe is adapted from one posted by The Kidney Dietitian.
- 2 cups corn, frozen or fresh (if frozen, allow to mostly thaw)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Mix corn, flour, sugar, baking soda, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together. If the corn is still frozen, the mixture will feel sticky, but that’s OK.
- Add the lightly beaten egg and the milk to the corn mixture. Stir until well combined.
- Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- For each fritter, scoop about 1/4 cup of the corn mixture into the hot oil. Flatten slightly. Fry on each side for about 5 min, until nicely golden brown on both sides.
- Transfer to a plate to cool and continue pan frying until all fritters are made.
If your potassium level is too high, it’s known as hyperkalemia. This can happen as a result of a medical condition or due to medications or supplements. You might need to eat less potassium as part of managing hyperkalemia in some cases.
Food plays a special role as part of culture and celebrations. There may be foods you love that are high in potassium. It’s helpful to have lower potassium options, so you can still enjoy your meals.
If you need extra support with a low-potassium diet, consider working with a dietitian.