Many of the foods that provide essential nutrients also contain the mineral potassium. If you have kidney disease, limiting high-potassium foods is recommended, but eating small amounts of low-potassium foods can help you consume adequate vitamins and minerals. Choosing low-potassium foods -- which contain less than 200 milligrams per serving -- from the major food groups will ensure you get adequate micronutrients and keep your body's potassium levels under control. Eating extra servings of any low-potassium food may provide more of the mineral than your diet plan allows. Always follow the advice of your doctor and dietitian regarding your renal diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
While there are no fruits or vegetables that are completely potassium-free, avoiding these foods altogether may leave you without some important nutrients like dietary fiber, folate and vitamin C. Low-potassium options that contain 150 to 200 milligrams per serving include 1 cup of mushrooms, corn, cranberry juice, raspberries, canned peaches, cucumber, applesauce, pineapple, watermelon, fresh and canned pears, spinach, broccoli, cabbage and apples. Some fruits and vegetables contain even less potassium, with 50 to 120 milligrams per 1-cup serving. These include: romaine lettuce, blueberries, peppers, kale and Brussels sprouts. One-half cup of cooked cauliflower or green beans also contains less than 120 milligrams of potassium per serving.
Foods like milk, cheese and yogurt provide essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. All dairy foods contain potassium, but some are lower than others. With less than 200 milligrams of potassium, 1 cup of nonfat cottage cheese, 5 ounces of Greek yogurt or 1/2 cup of ice cream are options lower potassium options. Many varieties of shredded cheese contain less than 150 milligrams of potassium per 1-ounce serving. These include: muenster, nonfat mozzarella, reduced-fat cheddar, feta and whole-milk mozzarella.
Lower Potassium Grains
Virtually all foods in this food group contain some potassium, with the exception of saltine crackers. Grain foods with less than 100 milligrams of potassium include: a packet of instant oatmeal, 1 cup of couscous, 1 cup of brown or white rice, enriched or whole-wheat pastas, and hot cereals prepared with water. Ready-to-eat cereals vary widely, so check the nutrition facts panel for the total potassium per serving. Low-potassium whole grains include: one whole-wheat tortilla with 107 milligrams, whole-wheat crackers with 97 milligrams per ounce or whole-wheat bread with 92 milligrams of potassium per ounce.
Lower Potassium Meats
All meats contain some potassium, many at high levels. For meat, 3 ounces is a standard portion size. Lean meat is the healthiest choice as it contains less saturated fat, but a standard portion of pork loin provides 482 milligrams of potassium; the same serving of salmon provides 429 milligrams of potassium. Beef and boneless chicken breast are not much better choices -- a 3-ounce portion of beef round has 411 milligrams, and chicken breast has slightly less potassium with 357 milligrams per serving.
Nuts and Beans
A few nuts and seeds meet the low-potassium guidelines, but none are potassium-free. One ounce of almonds, cashews and mixed nuts with peanuts will all provide less than 200 milligrams of potassium per serving. Beans and legumes also have some options, but still contain potassium. Low-potassium choices include many soy-based meat substitutes and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Kidney Disease High and Low Potassium Foods
- Davita Healthcare Partners: 30 Healthy Low Potassium Farmer’s Market Food Finds for Kidney Diets
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potassium Fruits and Fruit Juices and Vegetables and Vegetable Products
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: Fruits and Vegetables Health Benefits and Nutrients
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potassium Dairy and Egg Products
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potassium Breakfast Cereals, Cereal Grains and Pasta
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potassium Baked Products
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potassium Beef, Finfish and Shellfish, Pork Products, Poultry Products
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potassium Nuts and Seed products
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Potassium Legume and Legume Products