6 Simple Ways to Keep Potassium Levels in Check


When you lose some kidney function, your health depends on keeping potassium, sodium, and phosphorus in check. Medication can help, but your diet and food choices can help, too.

So why is monitoring potassium levels important?

Normally, healthy kidneys remove excess potassium the body absorbs from food. But when you have renal disease, your kidneys can’t do this on their own effectively. When potassium levels get too high, it can lead to muscle weakness, rapid change in pulse and heart beat, raise the risk for heart attacks, and even contribute to sudden death.

Got your attention? Good. Fortunately, there are a number of simple ways to keep potassium levels in check when you have renal disease.

  1. Talk with your doctor or dietitian. Your healthcare team can provide you with customized dietary guidelines to help you manage renal disease.
  1. Limit foods high in potassium. Some high-potassium foods to avoid include potatoes, bananas, avocados, legumes, and squash.
  1. Avoid or limit dairy products. If you are going to have milk, yogurt, cheese, or ice cream, limit your serving size to no more than 8 ounces.
  1. Eat low-potassium foods. This includes fruits and vegetables like broccoli, eggplant, green beans, and salmon. For more Renal-Friendly meals made from fresh ingredients, check out the complete menu here. Apple, grapefruit, pineapple, and berries are low-potassium fruits.

  2. Avoid or limit salt and sodium. That means step away from the salt shaker. Pay attention to what’s in the food you eat. And avoid high-sodium foods like fast food, potato chips, highly-processed meals, canned meats, etc. 
  1. Read food labels or use an online resource like MyFitnessPal to check potassium levels in the foods you eat. When you have renal disease, health professionals recommend limiting potassium to 1,500 to 2,700 mg per day.

Do everything you can to protect the remaining kidney function you have left. That includes keeping potassium levels in check.