Although it is an essential mineral for the body, its excess in the blood is dangerous. If you suffer from hyperkalemia, it is recommended to limit some fruits, vegetables, legumes and meats.

Avoid these 45 foods if you have high potassium levelsAvoid these 45 foods if you have high potassium levels

Last update: May 6, 2024

Potassium performs important functions in the body. It participates in muscle contraction, nerve transmission and the regulation of blood pressure. Although its intake is essential, when you suffer from certain conditions, such as hyperkalemia, you may have to avoid or limit foods high in the mineral.

This is usually not an easy task, since a wide variety of fruits, meats and vegetables contain the micronutrient. So that the change in diet does not bring more problems than solutions, should be designed, recommended and supervised by a health professional. Restricting products can be accompanied by side effects that must be prevented and counteracted.

What is hyperkalemia and why does it occur?

This is an excess of potassium levels in the blood. To diagnose it, a laboratory test must be performed and it must be confirmed that there are more than 5 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) of the micronutrient.

The normal range is from 3.5 to 5 mmol/L.

Mild cases of hyperkalemia may go unnoticed, as they do not always show obvious symptoms and are only occasionally detected through blood tests. However, in more serious circumstances, the following signs may appear:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Tingling
  • Chest pains
  • Muscular weakness
  • Decreased cardiac activity

Although the causes may be various, it is most frequently associated with kidney disorders. When the kidneys do not function as they should, potassium is not eliminated properly in the urine and accumulates in the blood..

Among other things, this can occur due to conditions such as chronic kidney disease, the use of certain medications (diuretics, for example), and conditions that involve accelerated cell destruction, such as cancers. It can also occur in cases of adrenal insufficiency and heart failure.

Excess potassium consumption is rare, but if it happens, it can increase blood levels. Especially if at the same time you suffer from a disease that makes its elimination difficult.

45 foods to avoid or reduce if you have high potassium

According to the Spanish Heart Foundation, a healthy adult You should consume an average of 3,100 milligrams of potassium per day. However, if there are chronic kidney diseases or proven hyperkalemia, this amount may have to be reduced by medical indication.

Beyond the guideline that a nutrition professional develops for us, we will have to know which foods are richest in potassium, to avoid making mistakes. According to the National Kidney Foundation criteria, a product has too much of this mineral when contains more than 200 milligrams of the nutrient per 100-gram serving.

Let’s see the list in detail. For the reference values, data was taken from the United States Department of Agriculture, which indicates the amount of milligrams of the mineral per 100 grams of the mentioned food (it is the number that we will review in parentheses).

8 fruits high in potassium

If you associate banana with potassium, you are right. However, it is not the only fruit in this category. There are a wide variety of them that you will have to restrict if you suffer from hyperkalemia.

  1. Bananas (749 mg)
  2. Dates (656 mg)
  3. Coconut (356 mg)
  4. Kiwi (312 mg)
  5. Melon (267 mg)
  6. Damascus or apricot (259 mg)
  7. Pomegranate (236 mg)
  8. Fig (232 mg)

The consumption of other fruits, which are close to 200 milligrams, should also be regulated. For example, orange and its derived juices, plum, mango and dehydrated ones.

18 vegetables and legumes with a lot of potassium

Other foods that are sources of potassium are green leafy vegetables and some vegetables. If they are left to soak, a percentage of the mineral is removed.

  1. Yam or sweet potato (816 mg)
  2. Raw spinach (558 mg)
  3. kale (491mg)
  4. Avocado (485 mg)
  5. Raw potato without skin (446 mg)
  6. Cooked soybeans (443 mg)
  7. Chard (379 mg)
  8. Parsnip or white carrot (375 mg)
  9. Artichoke (370 mg)
  10. Boiled lentils (369 mg)
  11. Cooked beans (358 mg)
  12. Pumpkin (352 mg)
  13. Broad beans (332 mg)
  14. Tomato sauce (331 mg)
  15. Beet (325 mg)
  16. Mushrooms (318 mg)
  17. Broccoli (316 mg)
  18. Zucchini or zucchini (261mg)

For their part, boiled peas, cabbage and leek are foods with medium levels that can be eaten in moderation. Potatoes concentrate high potassium in almost all their versions.

6 products of animal origin with enough potassium

Beef and chicken provide a considerable level when more than 85 grams of the product are consumed. Additionally, the following animal foods have high levels of potassium:

  1. Salmon
  2. Cold cuts
  3. Sausages
  4. Edam
  5. Milk and yogurt
  6. Processed meats, such as sausage or bacon

6 nuts to limit

They can be incorporated into the diet for hyperkalemia, as long as they do not exceed 30 grams per day. The list is the following:

  1. Walnuts
  2. Pistachios
  3. Hazelnuts
  4. Almonds
  5. Peanuts
  6. sunflower seeds

7 other foods to restrict if there is high potassium

Drinks can also contain a lot of the mineral. Furthermore, certain additives, which are not used in large volume, could increase the final value of the nutrient in our preparations.

  1. Came
  2. Beer
  3. Salt substitutes
  4. Peanut butter
  5. Pickled foods
  6. Sweets, such as cocoa and black sugar
  7. Spices, such as cumin, paprika, curry, and dill

Tips to control the potassium in your meals

The list we gave you of foods rich in potassium It does not imply that all these products should disappear from your diet.. In part, it would be impossible, and you may create more problems than solutions.

Therefore, choose to moderate or restrict them, based on your preferences and the instructions of a nutritionist. Also, do not forget that there are culinary techniques that reduce the level of potassium:

  • Use high temperature cooking, dry heat or roasting.
  • Peel fruits and vegetables to avoid ingesting the potassium present in the peels.
  • Boil vegetables or legumes more than once, for which the water must be changed and discarded in each preparation.
  • Discard the liquid from the canned vegetables and, before consuming them, let them soak in other water. The same with the syrup from preserved fruits.

Choose foods low in potassium

If you are wondering about foods low in potassium that you can include without fear, keep in mind that they are in this category. those containing less than 150 milligrams of the mineral in 100-gram servings. However, excessive consumption of them will end up increasing the contribution of the micronutrient.

Therefore, use the following, under the supervision and instructions of a nutritionist:

  • Fruits: pear, apricot, peeled apple, juice or puree, red fruits (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries), grapefruit, pineapple and watermelon.
  • Raw vegetables: onion, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce.
  • Cooked vegetables: carrots, turnips, eggplants and asparagus.
  • Lamb meat, eggs, margarine, mayonnaise.
  • White bread, noodles, white rice and honey.
  • Tea and coffee.

Diet restrictions are not the only treatment

One of the first measures to reduce potassium levels in the blood is to restrict it in foods. And while this can slow the progression of kidney disease, It is not a curative treatment.

A work published in the official journal of the European Renal Association suggests considering other potential clinical factors, in addition to diet. For its part, other research indicates that plant foods may have certain qualities with benefits for patients with kidney disease, so removing them from the diet is a problem, rather than a help.

According to the condition, Your doctor may recommend different approaches for hyperkalemia. Sometimes diuretics are prescribed that increase the excretion of the mineral through urine. There are also resins, such as polystyrene sulfonate, that bind to the nutrient in the digestive tract and expel it with feces.

In more severe cases, a combination of insulin and glucose is used intravenously. If the kidney disease is very advanced, dialysis will be indicated.

In conclusion, It is essential to see a health professional to determine the causes of elevated potassium in the blood. Then, a nutritionist will develop a diet, but we will also have to apply other measures and, perhaps, even take medication.