Potassium is a mineral necessary to help muscles contract, works to help cells communicate as well as opposes excess sodium and works with sodium to help the heart pump and transport nutrients in and out of the cell.
In those with chronic kidney disease (CKD), the kidney is limited in ridding the body of potassium which can lead to an excess of potassium to build-up. The potential side-effect can be as serious as stopping the heart from beating.
Potassium And Kidney Disease
Working with your physician and Registered Dietitian to keep potassium levels within appropriate ranges is the best way to go, but some general knowledge about potassium sources can be emphasized here.
The majority of potassium can be found in fruit and vegetables and some particularly high potassium containing fruits and vegetables include:
- Dried fruit
- Dried beans
- Butternut and Acorn squash
- Coconut (meat and water)
Though outside the fruit and vegetable category, it is important to mention that you should avoid using most commercial salt substitute products as they generally contain very high levels of potassium.
Even though you may see some of your favorite fruits and veggies on the list above, don’t despair! There are still many delicious options you can enjoy that are relatively low in potassium. The list below includes but a few of the many fruits and vegetables that are perfectly acceptable for restricted potassium diets:
- Canned peaches, pears, tangerines
- Frozen corn (lower in potassium than fresh corn)
- String beans
- Zucchini and yellow squash
You can also enjoy these foods and beverages that contain relatively low levels of potassium:
- Apple and cranberry juice
- Plain bagels
- White pastas and rice
- Cottage cheese
Again, developing a plan with your dietician is the best way to make sure that you are staying within your healthy range for potassium intake. Hopefully you have a better idea of potassium’s purpose and the types of foods it is found in.
Escott-Stump S. Nutrition and Diagnosis Related Care. 7th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011.