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Low Potassium diet

Date issued: February 2022

Review date: February 2024

Ref: C-479

PDF:  Low potassium diet final February 2022.pdf [pdf] 230KB

Why do I need to follow a low potassium diet?

Potassium is a mineral found naturally in many foods. It is needed in the body for your muscles and heart to work properly. The kidneys normally control the level of potassium in your blood, but in kidney failure, this control is lost and levels can become too high.

Ideally, your potassium level should be between 3.5 – 5.3 mmol/L

This leaflet gives you some initial advice to help you reduce the amount of potassium in your diet. Not everyone needs the same level of restriction, so you may find that limiting a few high potassium foods can make enough of a difference to your blood levels.

You should only follow a low potassium diet if a health care professional has advised you to do so.

High potassium

Potatoes and starchy foods: jacket potatoes, chips, potato products i.e., hash browns, potato waffles, Un-boiled cassava/yam/sweet potato

Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables (except if boiled), beetroot, tomato puree, mushrooms, lentils and pulses

Fruit: Bananas, dried fruit, avocado

Snacks: potato-based crisps/snacks, nuts, chocolate, fudge, liquorice, marzipan
Biscuits or cake containing nuts, dried fruit or chocolate

Drinks: coffee, fruit juice, smoothies, malted drinks (e.g. Ovaltine®, Horlicks®), drinking chocolate, vegetable juice
Wine, beer, cider and stout
Milk: limit to 1/2 pint (300ml) per day or 1/3 pint (200ml) plus 1 pot of yoghurt

Miscellaneous: tomato sauce, brown sauce, marmite, peanut butter, chocolate spread, pesto
LoSalt® or salt substitutes

Lower potassium alternative

Boiled potatoes, parboiled homemade chips/roast potatoes
Boiled cassava/yam/sweet potato
Pasta, rice, noodles, breads

Boil vegetables if possible. Limit salads to one small bowlful per day

Limit fruit to 3 portions per day. A portion is about a handful

Corn, wheat or maize based snacks (*see additive section), popcorn, mints, boiled/jelly sweets, marshmallow
Biscuits or cake not containing nuts, dried fruit or chocolate

Tea, herbal tea, squash/cordial, mineral water
Spirits are generally lower in potassium. Remember to keep within safe limits for alcohol intake

Mayonnaise, horseradish, honey, jam, marmalade
Herbs, pepper and spices

Low potassium cooking methods:

  • Cut up vegetables and potatoes into small pieces and boil in plenty of water, this reduces their potassium content.
  • Throw away vegetable cooking water, do not use for gravy/stock
  • Boiled vegetables/potatoes can then be fried, roasted or added to soups and casseroles

Potassium additives

An increasing number of processed foods contain potassium additives. This type of potassium is much more easily absorbed into your blood stream. In order to reduce your intake of potassium additives you should:

  • Limit your intake of processed foods as much as possible

  • Check the ingredients list on food labels for potassium additives. Common potassium additives include: di and tripotassium phosphate, tetrapotassium diphosphate, potassium hydrogen carbonate, potassium chloride, potassium sorbate

The following products commonly contain potassium additives:

  • Breaded and battered meat/fish
  • Bacon, cooked sliced meats (ham, chicken, turkey etc), gammon
  • Cheese spreads
  • Instant noodles
  • Soft drinks (containing potassium sorbate)
  • Crisps and savoury snacks

All products and manufacturers differ, so it is important to check food labels and different brands for potassium additives.

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