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Foods to Avoid for a Low-Potassium Diet

by
author image Erica Roth
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.
Foods to Avoid for a Low-Potassium Diet
Papayas for sale at a market. Photo Credit shiyali/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Potassium is an essential nutrient that contributes to normal nerve and muscle function. The Linus Pauling Institute suggests that children under a year old get 400 to 700 mg of potassium daily through diet; children from ages 1 to 14 should take in 3,000 to 4,500 mg. Adolescent and adult intake ranges from 4,700 to 5,100 mg each day. Some people have more of the mineral than they need, which can create health complications. If you have hyperkalemia, or high blood potassium readings, your doctor might put you on a low-potassium diet in order to regulate your levels. You will most likely be directed to avoid certain foods while on a low-potassium diet.

Citrus and Tropical Fruits

Fruits that are native to warm climates are high in potassium and should be avoided if you are following a restricted diet. Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, reports that bananas, cantaloupe and kiwi are considered "significant sources" of potassium. The World's Healthiest Foods adds that papaya, grapefruit, oranges and tomatoes--commonly thought of as a vegetable, but really a citrus fruit--contain between 237 and 781 mg of potassium per cup. These fruits may be allowed on an occasional basis, but when eaten on a regular basis might give you too much potassium if you have issues with hyperkalemia.

Dried Fruit and Nuts

Raisins, prunes, dried apricots and almonds are rich in potassium and may be on your restricted list in terms of potassium. The Linus Pauling Institute shows that 1 oz. of almonds offers 200 mg of potassium, while a half-cup serving of raisins and prunes delivers larger dose of the mineral, at 598 and 637 mg respectively. Though these snack foods provide fiber and other nutrients, the potassium levels may interfere with normal body function if eaten in large quantities.

Green Vegetables

Almost any type of vegetable contains potassium, which can make healthy eating a challenge when you're dealing with a low-potassium diet. Green vegetables tend to pack more of a potassium punch, especially dark leafy greens like Swiss chard, collard greens and spinach, ranging from almost 500 to more than 900 mg per cup. The World's Healthiest Foods points out that some of the potassium in vegetables is lost during the cooking process and may be more appropriate to include in your eating plan. Check with your nutritionist or doctor for approval. Other vegetables that are high in potassium include squash, bell peppers, mushrooms, green beans and eggplant.

Meat and Seafood

Medline Plus notes that almost every kind of meat provides potassium. Consult your doctor to determine how much potassium per day you are allowed to take in through diet to help you plan accordingly. Seafood, mainly in the form of salmon, sardines and flounder, are good sources of potassium and should be limited as well.

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