Eating on a low Potassium Diet

Recommendations for patients needing to follow a low potassium diet


What is potassium and why is it important?
Potassium is a mineral which is found naturally in many foods. It is important to ensure healthy functioning of muscles, including your heart muscle.

Why is my potassium level high?
Normally, any excess potassium is removed by the kidneys in the urine. Unfortunately as your kidneys are not working well, the potassium level in your blood has risen.

Why is a high potassium level a problem?

A high potassium level or a sudden large increase in your potassium level can be dangerous, as it can stop the heart from beating.

How can I reduce the level of potassium in my blood?

  • Low potassium diet - The dietary advice given depends on your blood results and medical condition
  • Dialysis (if necessary)
  • Avoid constipation

How long will I have to follow this diet?
It will depend upon your treatment. Some people will need to follow this diet long term, others will only need to follow it for a short while. Therefore it is important to see your dietitian regularly to review your diet.

What can I eat?

This is a guide to help you identify foods which are high in potassium. You are not aiming to avoid all foods containing potassium. A few simple changes to your diet can help to reduce potassium levels in your blood.

Cooking methods

The way in which food is cooked can affect its potassium content. When potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and vegetables are boiled in water they lose some potassium.


  • Boil all potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes and vegetables in large amounts of water until cooked and discard the water;
  • Avoid using vegetable water for gravy, sauces, curries or casseroles;
  • When making curry or stew, firstly par-boil the potatoes and vegetables. Then discard the water and add the vegetables/potatoes to the stew/curry;
  • When making a stir fry, try to make sure that all vegetables are par-boiled;
  • Ensure all vegetables are cut into small pieces before boiling;
  • Do not microwave, pressure cook or steam vegetables or potatoes.

You can re-heat vegetables that have already been boiled.


The daily allowance is 3 egg sized, (150g/6oz).

All potatoes should be peeled and boiled before they are chipped, roasted or sauteed.

Alternatively you may choose a portion of boiled yam or sweet potato, instead of potato, or 100g/4oz boiled plantain.

Choose Avoid
Boiled potatoes Frozen/ oven/ retail chips
Mash potatoes lnstant mash
Homemade chips Jacket potatoes
Homemade roast potatoes Microwave chips
Pasta Oven chips
Rice Potato flour
Noodles Manufactured potato products
Couscous     e.g. hash browns, waffles,
Maize            wedges
Corn meal  


Carbohydrate (Starchy food)

Most breads and cereals are good choices as they are low in potassium.

Choose Avoid
All types including white, brown and granary Any bread or cereals with added fruit, nuts & chocolate as these will significantly increase the potassium content
Breakfast cereals  
Weetabix, branflakes cornflakes, porridge oats (not instant), shredded wheat, special K All bran / bran
Plain, self raising, corn flour, arrowroot, sago, tapioca powdered starchy vegetable


Vegetables and Salads

All vegetables contain potassium but some can be eaten in moderation.
The daily allowance for vegetables/salads is ............  portions. A portion of vegetables is
approximately 2 tablespoons (85g/3oz)


  • Half a tin of plum tomatoes can be used per portion to flavour dishes, the juice should be thrown away.
  • All vegetables when used in composite dishes should be par-boiled, and the water thrown away.
Choose Choose Avoid
Mange tout,
Green/french beans
Spring greens Ackee
Bean sprouts Swede Artichoke

Asparagus (3 spears) Brussel Sprouts
Aubergine (1/o)
Cauliflower Celery (2 sticks) Drumstick
Courgette, Cucumber Fennel
Leeks Radish Karela
Lettuce, Tomato (1 small or 4
Marrow   Okra
Mixed vegetables   Parsnip
Onions,   Spinach
Peppers   Tomato puree



All fruits contain potassium but some can be eaten in moderation.

Your daily allowance is   .............. portions,

Choose Avoid
Apple Avocado
Apricot (2) Bananas
Blackberries Blackcurrants
Blueberries (20) Coconut
Cherries (14) Damson
Clementine's (2) Dried Fruit
Grapes (15) Elderberries
Kiwi Fruit Figs
Kumquats (14) Grapefruit
Lychees (8) Greengages
Nectarine / Peach Guava
Olives (10) Loganberries
Orange (small) Mango
Passion Fruit Melon
Pear (small) Papaya
Pineapple (2 small slices) Paw-paw
Plums (2) Pomegranate
Raspberries (15) Redcurrants
Satsuma Rhubarb
Strawberries (8) Sharon Fruit
Tinned Fruit 120g/small tin - Juice drained  

NB Starfruit can be toxic for kidney patients therefore it should be avoided at all times

Meat, fish and alternatives

Meat and fish contain a moderate amount of potassium. However because they are an important source of protein, they are not restricted on a low potassium diet.
Avoid adding fruit or nuts to main dishes.

Beans and Pulses

A portion of cooked beans or pulses can replace a portion of meat or fish for example, baked beans, dahl, chickpeas.

lf you are a vegetarian continue having beans and lentils as usual.


Dairy Products

Dairy products are an important source of calcium but contain potassium. They should be taken in moderate amounts.

An equivalent of 1/2 pint (300m1) milk may be taken daily. Milky puddings and yoghurts must be counted within this allowance. Soya milk and products made from soya should also be included in your milk allowance.

Eggs and cheese can be eaten as usual on a low potassium diet, but may need to be restricted if on a low phosphate diet, lf you are unsure please consult your dietitian.

Choose Avoid

Rice milk freely
within fluid restriction

Coconut milk
Condensed milk
Dried milk
Evaporated milk


Salt Substitutes

Most renal patients need to follow a no added salt diet. lf you need more information on this please ask your dietitian.
* Salt substitutes for example Selora, Lo Salt and pan salt are all made from potassium salts and must not be used.

Choose pepper, herbs and spices to flavour dishes.

* Foods that are processed are high in salt as are soya sauce, MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate) and stock cubes e.g. Maggi and Knorr. Keep these foods and seasoning to a minimum.


Sweet Snacks


Choose Avoid

Ginger nut
Jam/ cream filled biscuits
Plain biscuits e.g. Digestive,
Rich Tea, Shortbread

Biscuits containing nuts/
chocolate/ dried fruit
Cakes/ Desserts
Cake e.g. sponge,
Cheesecake*, Doughnut
Jam tart, Jelly, Custard*
Meringue, Swiss roll, Trifle
Plain ice cream*
Creme Caramel
Cakes/ Desserts
Cakes/ desserts
containing nuts/
chocolate/ dried fruit


Boiled, Chewy
Fruit gums and pastilles,
Jellies, Marshmallows, Mints,
Sherbert, Turkish Delight
Peanut brittle
Seseme snacks
Asian sweets
Aggala, Asmi, Gulab jamun
Halva, Jalebi, Payasan
Shandesh, Zarda
Sweets containing
evaporated or condensed
milk/ nuts/ dried fruit/
dried milk/ coconut milk/
gram flour
All standard chocolate bars


Savoury Snacks


Choose Avoid
Bread sticks
Cream crackers
Crisp breads
Monster Munch
Prawn crackers
Rice cakes
Tortilla chips
Water biscuits
All manufactured potato
products e.g.
Crisps / French Fries
Rye crisp breads
Vegetable Crisps

Avoid foods marked with * if you are on a low phosphate diet.



Choose Avoid
Herbal tea
Fruit squash (not high juice)
Fizzy drinks
Coffee (1 weak cup
filter coffee per day)
Brita filtered water
Chocolate drinks
Complan or Build up drinks
Fruit juice
Hi-Juice fruit squash
lnstant coffee
Malted drinks
Vegetable juice




Choose Avoid
All spirits
Port Shandy
Red Wine

lf you drink white wine and/or lager, please discuss with your dietitian.

NOTE: All alcohol should be taken in moderation. It is advised that men should not drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol per day, and women should drink no more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day.


Eating out ideas


Starters Garlic bread
Sesame chicken
or toast
Garlic prawns*
Pasta dishes
Main Course

Plain meat, fish, soya, tofu,
beans or lentils.
Pasta or rice dishes/naan/chapatti
Small portion of vegetables or salad
Boiled or mashed potatoes

Dessert Crdme caramel
Mousse or ice cream*
Plain sponge pudding and cream
A portion of fruit from daily
allowance may be eaten either as
fruit salad or as a fruit pudding. e,g.
lychees, apple crumble
Drinks Tea
Fizzy drink
White Wine limit to ............. glasses

* These foods may need to be avoided or limited if you are on a low phosphate diet.

lf you need further information on eating out, please ask your dietitian.