Individuals who suffer from chronic kidney disease are at risk for excessive levels of phosphorus and potassium in the blood, which can result in complications such as loss of bone density and irregular heart function. To prevent this, these individuals need to follow a strict diet and eliminate foods high in potassium and phosphorus. Almost all fruits and vegetables are low in phosphorus, but they vary widely in their potassium content. Identifying the best low-potassium, low-phosphorus fruits and vegetables will keep your diet consistent.
Understanding which factors qualify a food as “low potassium” or “low phosphorus” is the first step toward identifying compliant choices. Foods low in potassium are those that have less than 150 milligrams of potassium per serving. Foods low in phosphorus are those that have less than 110 milligrams of phosphorus per serving. Most patients with CKD need to consume foods low in phosphorus and potassium. If your doctor says it is OK, however, you could eat foods that have moderate amounts of phosphorus and potassium. It is also important to pay attention to serving sizes, as excessive amounts of low-potassium or low-phosphorus foods can add up to higher levels than you intended to consume.
Apples contain only 14 milligrams of phosphorus and 134 milligrams of potassium in a sliced, 1-cup serving, making them ideal choices. A 1/2-cup serving of grapes contains less than 5 milligrams of phosphorus and 88 milligrams of potassium. One average-sized plum contains 11 milligrams of phosphorus and 104 milligrams of potassium, putting it safely below the threshold for both minerals. Other good fruits to eat that are low in potassium and phosphorus include 1/2-cup servings of peaches, pears, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.
One cup of raw chopped cabbage contains 23 milligrams of phosphorus and 151 milligrams of potassium, putting it right at the threshold of “low potassium.” A 1/2-cup serving of raw cucumber only contains 12 milligrams of phosphorus and 76 milligrams of potassium. Other good vegetable choices are 1/2-cup servings of alfalfa sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, snow peas and turnips.
The only common vegetables that are not low in phosphorus are dried beans and peas, which have moderate amounts of phosphorus. Nearly all types of beans have less than 160 milligrams of phosphorous per serving. Vegetables that have moderate-to-high amounts of potassium may also be options for CKD patients if you boil and drain the vegetables. Boiling is an effective way of removing 50 to 75 percent of the potassium and other mineral content from vegetables, according to a 2008 article published in the Journal of Food Science.
- Ohio State University Medical Center: Food Groups for Low Potassium and Low Phosphorus Diets
- Nephrology Physicians LLC: Kidney Dialysis Food Lists
- Journal of Food Science: The Effects of Boiling and Leaching on the Content of Potassium and Other Minerals in Potatoes
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Apple, Raw, With Skin
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Grapes, American Type
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Plums, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Cabbage, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Cucumber, With Peel, Raw
- National Kidney Foundation: Nutrition and Chronic Kidney Disease