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Low Potassium Dietary Advice Heart Failure

Date issued: October 2022

Review date: October 2024

Ref: C-412/SW/Dietetics/Low potassium advice v2

PDF: Low potassium advice heart failure final October 2022 v2.pdf [pdf] 198KB

You should only follow a low potassium diet if you have been advised by your healthcare professional to do so.

This leaflet will help you to reduce the amount of potassium in your diet.  The length of time you need to follow this diet will be advised by your healthcare professional as many people will not need to continue this permanently.  Whilst following this advice it is important that your diet remains well balanced and your healthcare professional may refer you to a registered dietitian to provide further advice or support.

What is Potassium?

Potassium is a mineral which is needed in the body for your muscles and heart to work properly, and the level in the blood is normally controlled by your kidneys.  Many people with heart failure take medications which may cause the potassium level to rise.  High levels of potassium in the blood can be dangerous as it can have an effect on your heart.  Reducing the amount of potassium in your diet will help control the level of potassium in your blood.

Controlling Your Potassium Level

Potassium is found in many foods and drinks.  You do not necessarily have to avoid all high potassium foods; it may be sufficient to just reduce your intake of these foods and consume them in moderation.  Ask your healthcare professional or dietitian for more advice.

Potassium additives

An increasing number of processed foods contain potassium additives.  This type of potassium is much more easily absorbed into your blood stream.  To reduce your intake of potassium additives you should limit your intake of processed foods as much as possible:

Check ingredients

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

  • Non-alcoholic sweetened drinks (containing potassium sorbate)

  • Crisps and savoury snacks

All products differ, so it is worth comparing different brands as some may not contain potassium additives.

Please note that manufacturers often change ingredients, so it is worth re-checking labels from time to time.

High and Low potassium

High potassium

Lower potassium alternative

Potatoes and starchy foods: jacket potatoes, chips, potato products i.e. hash browns, potato waffles

Un-boiled cassava/yam/sweet potato

Boiled potatoes, parboiled homemade chips/roast potatoes

Boiled cassava/yam/sweet potato

Pasta, rice, noodles, breads

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

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

Fruit: Bananas, dried fruit, avocado

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

Snacks: potato-based crisps/snacks, nuts, chocolate, fudge, liquorice, marzipan

Biscuits or cake containing nuts, dried fruit or chocolate

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

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

Tea, herbal tea, squash/cordial, mineral water

Spirits are generally lower in potassium. Remember to keep within safe limits for alcohol intake

Misc: tomato sauce, brown sauce, marmite, peanut butter, chocolate spread, pesto

LoSalt or salt substitutes

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

Patient Name ………………………………………………….      Date ………………….

Healthcare Professional Name: ……………………………     Tel: ……………………



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