Low Potassium Diet Handout

This low potassium diet handout is designed to provide dietary guidelines to people with hyperkalemia. High blood levels of potassium may cause muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat and even death. Leaf through this article to know which foods should be included and which should be excluded in a potassium restricted diet.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
This article on low potassium diet handout contains information on how to lower blood potassium levels naturally. You should incorporate low potassium foods in your regular diet; if you are diagnosed with hyperkalemia (high blood potassium levels). Potassium is one of the most essential nutrients; as it helps regulate blood pressure and plays an important role in muscle control. It helps store carbohydrates and enhances nerve function. It helps maintain the balance of fluid and minerals in your body. But high potassium levels in blood, known as hyperkalemia can affect heart and brain function seriously. High potassium, if not treated promptly, can eventually result in paralysis and cardiac arrest. In order to prevent serious health complications, people with hyperkalemia are advised to follow a diet that is low in potassium.
Blood Potassium Levels
The normal potassium level in blood is between 3.5 and 5.0 mEq/L . A level greater than 6 mEq/L is considered as dangerous. Kidneys help excrete excess potassium ingested through food. Generally, dysfunction of kidneys leads to high potassium in blood. Thus, people with kidney diseases need to lower potassium in their diet. For this, the person has to limit high potassium foods and include low potassium foods in his/her diet. Potassium is represented with sign 'K', and people with hyperkalemia, are expected to check the labels on food items. Foods with sign K+ or 'potassium' should be avoided. Sometimes, potassium is added to food items as a preservative or salt substitute. So labels should be carefully read.
Foods to Avoid in a Low Potassium Diet
  • Highly processed fish and meat (processed to preserve) for example, canned, salted, pickled, should be strictly excluded from the diet. Avoid even corned beef, all hot dogs, sandwich spreads, sausages, spiced or smoked fish and meat. Fish like salmon, sardines and flounder are high in potassium.
  • Ready to eat canned or frozen dinners, for example, meat entrees, Chinese food, macaroni, meats or casseroles in salted or sweet sauces, etc. should be avoided.
  • Stay away from instant breakfast drinks, sweetened, canned and frozen fruits and juices, vegetable juice cocktail, soy milk or milk and milk products like yogurt.
  • Vegetables containing sweetened or salted sauces should not be included in the diet.
  • Dried fruits and nuts like raisins, prunes, dried apricots and almonds contain high amounts of potassium.
This being a handout on low potassium diet plan, here is a table which contains low potassium foods list. These foods can be incorporated in a diet designed to curb hyperkalemia.
Food Type Low Potassium Foods Moderate Potassium Foods High Potassium Foods
Dairy Products Sour cream - Milk, soy milk, yogurt
Breads and Grains Plain bagel, white bread, white rice, plain pasta, oatmeal Whole wheat and pumpernickel bread, bran bread, crackers, oat and granola cereals, muffins, corn tortilla -
Fruits Blueberries, grapes, grapefruit, strawberries Apple, cherries, pear, apricot, pineapple, peaches Bananas, orange, kiwi, nectarine, dried fruits, papaya, prune, avocado, coconut
Vegetables Lettuce, green beans, cucumber, cauliflower Corn, carrot, pepper, eggplant, asparagus, radish, pumpkin Spinach, potato, broccoli, plantains, winter squash, artichokes, prunes, tomatoes
Protein Rich Foods - Peanut butter, eggs, poultry, fish, pork, beef, veal Soy products, pinto beans, imitation bacon bits, nuts, dried beans and peas
You must have noticed that potassium is present in almost all foods. So, people with hyperkalemia have to be very cautious while choosing food items. Mild hyperkalemia does not exhibit any symptoms. Excessively high blood potassium levels exhibit symptoms and they can prove to be life-threatening. People with advanced chronic kidney disease need to monitor blood potassium levels periodically. They need to incorporate low potassium foods in their diet. The diet of a healthy person should contain at least 4700 mg of potassium per day; while those suffering from kidney diseases should consume about 1500 to 2500 mg of potassium per day. One should consult his/her physician to know the right amount of daily potassium intake. This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.
Diet that contains less than 2000 mg of potassium per day is referred to as a 'low potassium diet'. Low potassium recipes are easily available on the Internet. These days, food labels indicate the amount of important elements like sodium and potassium. A diet low in potassium helps lower blood potassium levels naturally. It helps prevent weak muscles, paralysis and heart failure. Those who want to lower the intake of potassium may add salt-free herb blends and spices to the dishes. People with hyperkalemia need to take some precautions, for example, they should wash and drain frozen fruits and vegetables and cook them in water before eating. Similarly, liquid from all canned fruits and vegetables should be drained. Canned fruits and vegetables should be washed before serving. Portion sizes should also be reduced.