Low Potassium DietFebruary 24, 2012
A commenter on the potassium list just reminded me that there are many people with kidney problems who actually need a low potassium diet. Obviously, they would have to take the opposite approach of most visitors to this site, and see the top potassium rich foods as things to avoid eating. In other words, limit (or ignore) all those recipes and food ideas I offer here, and instead seek out foods that didn’t make it to my list. If you must ingest high potassium foods, such as milk, keep track of them and limit your intake. For example, no more than one cup of milk per day.
Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if there was more someone with kidney disease can do to reduce their potassium intake – especially since all foods contain some level of potassium.
The first option, according the the National Kidney Foundation, is to eat more low potassium foods. This is a fairly broad food group, and includes may fruits, vegetables, pasta and bread (not whole grain, though). You can eat cucumbers, apples, lettuce and even celery in moderation (which is a high potassium food if you eat more than a stalk of it). Even with this option, though, too much of a low potassium food will turn it into a high potassium food. So everything in moderation.
The basic recommendation is to have a highly varied diet. Avoid obviously high potassium foods, and don’t eat too much of any one low potassium food.
The other option is to leech some of the potassium out of food before you eat it.
To leech some potassium from your vegetables, rinse and then soak in warm water for two hours, using a ration of ten parts water for one part vegetables. When cooking, use 5 parts water to one part vegetables. This applies to both fresh veggies and frozen veggies.
The University of California suggests this process for potatoes:
- Peel and cut potatoes into small or thin pieces.
- Allow to stand for at least 2 hours (or overnight) in a large amount of unsalted water.
- Drain, rinse, and drain the potatoes again.
- Cook in a large amount of unsalted water.
- Drain and discard water.
Remember that while this process does indeed leech potassium (and unfortunately, other nutrients) from your vegetable, it does not make them potassium free. It simply reduces the potassium you will ingest.
A low potassium diet isn’t much fun (what diet is?). But it’s not all that hard to accomplish.