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Low Potassium Foods for Kidney Health Print

5 Food Swaps to Get you Started on the Low Potassium Diet

Pile of apples, bananas and pears

Navigating low potassium foods for kidney disease, Addison’s disease or with certain medications and following the low potassium diet can be a challenge. Sometimes it feels like everything you like to eat is high in potassium. The reality is that potassium is in a lot of foods and a lot of “healthy” foods, at that. What are you to do when you are trying to do the “right” thing with your diet but all those “right” things are high in something you need to avoid?

There are two things you need to know – there are plenty of low potassium alternatives out there and that portion size plays a big role, so you may be able to tolerate small amounts of higher potassium foods. Knowing what and how much of foods you can tolerate safely is key. Figuring out what best works for you will take some time, and likely a little adjustment. And that’s okay.

If you are new to the low potassium diet and don’t know where to start, here are a few low potassium food swaps you can make:

 

Potatoes (and Sweet potatoes)

 

For some of us, potatoes are a big part of our diet. From mashed and baked potatoes, to French fries and potato chips – potatoes are everywhere. They are versatile, affordable and, unfortunately, also very high in potassium.

 

Low Potassium Food Swaps:

Since we use potatoes so many ways, there are actually a few potato swaps you can do. To swap out potato as a side dish, consider rice or garlic mashed cauliflower. In lieu of French fries, onion rings are a good substitute (but watch the sodium on this one, if you need a low sodium diet). If you are craving potato chips, popcorn is a suitable alternative (watch the salt on this one, as well).

Alternatively, if you really want to have some potatoes, you can try leaching some of the potassium out of them. To do this peel and cut up the potatoes into small pieces, then soak them in room temperature or warmer water for several hours (overnight is best). If you can change the water several times during this process, more potassium will be removed. If you are short on time, you can also do the ‘double boil’ method – peel and cut up the potatoes, boil in water. Once the water is boiling, dump this water out and fill with new water to boil again. This time boil potatoes until then are done, discard water. This method brings potatoes from a very high potassium food to a medium potassium food (at a ½-2/3 cup portion).

 

Tomato Pasta Sauce

 

Tomato sauce and pasta is a quick and easy meal. Tomatoes, and the much more concentrated tomato sauce, are high in potassium and need to be avoided on a low potassium diet. If spaghetti and tomato sauce is a staple in your house, you may be at a loss as what to serve in its absence. Don’t worry, there are a few alternatives out there for you.

 

Low Potassium Food Swaps:

If you are looking for a low potassium sauce to put on your pasta, both basil pesto or a roasted red pepper sauce are good, low potassium alternatives. Generally, cream-based sauces are high in potassium but if you do an online search, you’ll be able to find recipes for low potassium versions of sauces like alfredo.

 

Banana

 

Bananas are well known for being high in potassium. While bananas are high in potassium, there are a number of other lower potassium (and equally delicious) fruits to choose from, too.

Low Potassium Food Swaps:

If you are looking for a nice, portable, and easy-to-eat fruit that contain low to moderate levels of potassium choose apples, pears, blueberries, pineapples, strawberries, and grapes. Remember to keep your portion size to ½ cup or 1 medium-sized fruit.

If you routinely use bananas in your smoothies, swap out your banana for frozen blueberries, strawberries or pineapple chunks.

If you are wondering what you are going to do about that banana bread that you love to bake, try making a apple-zucchini bread or cranberry loaf instead (a quick online search of well known kidney recipe sites will help you find lots of suitable alternatives).

 

Milk

 

If you are a milk drinker, you may be disappointed to learn that milk also is a higher in potassium (and phosphorus, if you are watching that in your diet, too).

Now, if you genuinely enjoy a glass of milk and want to keep in in your diet, limit your portion to ½ -1 cup per day. You may have to discuss with a dietitian to see which portion is better for you, based on your individual situation.

If you are okay with switching up your milk drinking, there are some lower potassium alternatives you can use.

 

Low Potassium Food Swaps:

Both rice milk and almond milk are lower potassium alternatives to cow’s milk. If you are also on a low phosphorus diet, choose the “unenriched” versions of rice and almond milk, as these don’t have added phosphorus.

 

Bran muffins

 

If you are a baker who boosts the fiber content of your baking with added wheat bran, you may need to rethink this. While the added fiber is great, it’s also adding to the potassium content of your baking.

 

Low Potassium Food Swaps:

If you are looking for extra fiber in baked goods such as muffins or loaves, add ground flaxseed or low potassium fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, fresh cranberries, rhubarb or shredded apples.

Where can I find more information on low potassium foods?

Check out this previous article on our blog on the Low Potassium Diet

While finding low potassium foods for your health isn’t always easy, if you need a hand with additional support on the low potassium diet, CONTACT US. As a Renal Dietitian I can help work with you on understanding how to navigate potassium in your diet and help you create a bank of tasty meals and snacks that will work for your food preferences. Find out more about our Calgary Dietitian or Virtual Nutritionist services here: Personal Nutrition Counseling.

 

 

 

 

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