What is the importance of potassium and kidney disease? If you have been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, there may be a chance that you were told to cut out foods like potatoes and bananas from your diet. The thought of cutting out foods your favorite foods from your diet can be frustrating! While it is true that the kidneys are involved in filtering potassium, you may not have to cut out all foods high in potassium. 

Potassium and kidney disease facts you need to know

Normal blood potassium level is usually 3.5-5.5mg/dL. Your nephrologist will take labs every few months to check whether or not these levels are within the normal range. If these levels are running high, you may be put on a potassium restriction. If the levels are normal, you may not be put on this restriction, which means you can be more liberal with the foods you eat. It’s really up to your nephrologist to make this determination. Next, it can be very helpful to meet with a registered dietitian. Your dietitian can help you navigate your nephrologist’s recommendations and help you determine how much of those higher potassium foods you can enjoy. 

potassium and kidney disease

Tomatoes are high in potassium, however the type that you eat also makes a difference!

What does a potassium restriction mean?

This is when you will need to pay more attention to the foods you are eating. Typically, people on this restriction are recommended to have about 2000-3000 mg of potassium. This means you may still be able to enjoy some higher potassium foods, but also making sure to reduce your potassium in other areas of your diet. This is how our registered dietitians can help you! You can learn how to include foods you love, while still maintaining a balance to support kidney function. You can also learn some tips to remove potassium from some of your favorite foods, or delicious alternatives to high potassium foods. For example, you can soak potatoes to remove some of the potassium, or use roasted red peppers as the base to a marinara sauce! 

potassium and kidney disease

Roasted red peppers are a good alternative to tomatoes!

What foods are high in potassium?

  • Cooked greens (raw greens are typically better)
  • Avocados
  • Potatoes
  • Star fruit
  • Bananas
  • Prunes
  • Tomatoes
  • Yucca/cassava
  • Whole grains
  • Meat
  • Nuts
  • Dairy
  • Melons
  • Winter Squash
  • Beans
  • Oranges
  • Salt substitutes (KCl instead of NaCl)
potassium and kidney disease

Avocado and tomato are both high in potassium

More about Potassium

Potassium (K+) is a very important nutrient to ensure balance of, for the trouble with potassium in chronic kidney disease is that the kidneys are no longer able to filter and excrete the excess amounts. The potassium then builds up in the body, causing a condition called hyperkalemia, which is similar to hypertension that occurs with excess sodium. Potassium is found in a lot of plant-based foods and can be tricky to navigate ensuring a low intake if you have been prescribed a low protein (high plant-based) diet. This chart below offers some great options for lower potassium foods to swap with high potassium sources, as well as some recipes you can find on our webpage. But, as always, if you have any specific questions relating to the potassium content of a food, reach out to Rebecca Bitzer & Associates so Kaitlin and Liz can help find a kidney-friendly plan for you!

Potassium Swaps:

potassium and kidney

Here are some of our recipes with potassium information:

Overall, potassium on the “kidney diet” is unique to each person. Your registered dietitian will take a look at your labs and may reach out to your doctor. She will decide what amount of potassium is right for you and work with you to create a nutrition plan.

Contact our office at 301-474-2499 if you have any questions about our kidney nutrition programs. You can also email our office at admin@rbitzer.com or fill out our contact form here!

An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.