When kidneys are healthy, they help balance your body’s potassium levels. However, if you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), you may need to be careful about eating foods that contain potassium, or your blood level of potassium could become too high.
How do I know if my potassium level is too high?
Your health care provider will run blood tests to monitor your potassium levels to be sure they are in the normal range. However, if you experience any of the following, you may be experiencing hyperkalemia (elevated levels of potassium in your blood stream) and you should contact your doctor right away:
Dialysis treatment removes extra potassium from your blood. However, hemodialysis treatment is usually only three times a week for three to four hours, so potassium can build up between dialysis treatments. You may be instructed by your renal dietitian to limit potassium in your diet. For some people on peritoneal dialysis, they may be instructed to eat foods with potassium since peritoneal dialysis is done everyday. Your renal dietitian will review your lab results with you each month, including your potassium levels, and let you know how much potassium you can consume.
How can I control the potassium in my diet?
There are a number of steps you can take to help regulate your potassium level for better health:
What is leaching?
If you would like to include high-potassium vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes or carrots, in your meal plan, you can use the process of leaching to lower the amount of potassium in the food. It’s a simple process that can help make your food healthier for people with kidney disease and still allow you to enjoy some of your favorite veggies. Ask your dietitian for help in learning which vegetables can be safely leached and eaten as part of your kidney-friendly diet.
Here’s an easy way to leach potassium from root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots:
You can also leach potassium from mushrooms, cauliflower, squash and frozen greens.
Even after leaching, remember to continue to limit your portion size to one serving, which is usually about 1/2 cup.
With some pre-planning, you can select low-potassium foods that are healthier for your body, yet still enjoy many of the food categories you’ve always loved. Take a look at the chart below for some hints on making smart choices.
|A small piece of watermelon||Cantaloupe, honeydew|
|Berries, grapes, apples||Bananas, oranges, kiwi|
|Apple, grape or cranberry juice||Orange juice or prune juice|
|Dried cranberries||Raisins, other dried fruit|
|Plum, peach, pineapple||Mangoes, nectarines, papaya|
|Lower potassium canned peaches, peaches, fruit cocktail||Fresh fruit|
|Peas, green beans, wax beans||Dried peas or beans|
|Mashed potatoes or hash browns made from leached potatoes||Baked potatoes or French fries|
|Summer squashes||Winter squashes|
|Pudding prepared with nondairy creamer||Yogurt or pudding made with milk|
|Sorbet, sherbet||Ice cream or frozen yogurt|
|Plain donuts or desserts that are lemon or vanilla flavored||Chocolate desserts|
|Rice cakes, unsalted popcorn or pretzels, jelly beans, hard candies||Nuts or seeds|
|Lemon, pepper, low sodium herb and spice blends||Salt substitutes|
|Cook with garlic, onion, bell peppers or mushrooms||Tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili sauce|
|Ice water with sliced lemons or sliced cucumber||Vegetable juices|
|Unenriched rice milk or nondairy creamer||Cow’s milk|