What does potassium do?

Potassium is a mineral that helps your muscles work. Your biggest muscle is your heart. Too much or too little potassium in your blood can cause an irregular heartbeat and serious complications.

How much potassium should I have?

Check with your dietitian to find out how much potassium your diet will allow. In general, a low potassium diet is less than 2,000 mg per day.

What foods contain potassium?

Milk and milk products contain high amounts of potassium. This includes foods like yogurt, milk-based puddings and custards. Avoid chocolate milk products, as chocolate is high in potassium.

Some whole grain and bran cereals contain a lot of potassium. Switch to more refined cereals that are lower in potassium such as Rice Chex, Corn Flakes, or Special K Original.

Legumes, nuts, and peanut butter are rich sources of potassium.

Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are moderate to high sources of potassium. These foods are also good sources of high-quality protein, which you need for normal body functions. Follow the guidelines for protein needed in your diet.

Some fruits and vegetables can also add a lot of potassium to your diet.

  • Avoid fruits and vegetables high in potassium unless approved by your dietitian.

  • Limit fruits and vegetables with a medium amount of potassium.

  • You can eat fruits and vegetables that contain low amounts of potassium (less than 150mg).

  • A serving size is one half cup cooked or one cup raw.

High Potassium Fruits (over 250 mg)

  • Avocado

  • Banana

  • Cantaloupe

  • Dried fruits: apricots, dates, figs, prunes, raisins

  • Guava

  • Honeydew melon

  • Kiwi fruit

  • Mango

  • Nectarine

  • Tangelo

  • Prune juice

High Potassium Vegetables (over 270 mg)

  • Artichoke

  • Beet and beet greens

  • Kohlrabi

  • Legumes: lima/navy/pinto/kidney beans and peas

  • Potato: baked/boiled/fried

  • Pumpkin

  • Rutabaga

  • Spinach, cooked

  • Sweet potato or yams

  • Tomato

  • Tomato and V8 juice

  • Winter squash: acorn, butternut, hubbard

Medium Potassium Fruits (150-250 mg)

  • Cherries

  • Figs, 2

  • Grapefruit

  • Orange

  • Fresh peach

  • Fresh pear

  • Watermelon

  • Juice: grape (canned/bottled), grapefruit, orange, pineapple

Medium Potassium Vegetables (150-270 mg)

  • Asparagus

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Cauliflower

  • Carrots

  • Corn

  • Garbanzo beans

  • Greens, frozen, cooked: collards, kale, turnip

  • Mixed vegetables

  • Potatoes, double cooked*

  • Zucchini boiled
    *See double cooking instructions below

Low Potassium Fruits (150 mg or less)

  • Apple

  • Applesauce

  • Blackberries

  • Blueberries

  • Boysenberries

  • Canned peaches, pears, fruit cocktail

  • Canned mandarin oranges

  • Gooseberries

  • Grapes

  • Lemon

  • Lime

  • Pineapple (fresh or canned)

  • Rhubarb

  • Strawberries

  • Tangerines

  • Juice: apple, cranberry, grape (frozen concentrate)

  • Nectars: peach, pear

Low Potassium Vegetables (150 mg or less):

  • Broccoli

  • Bean sprouts

  • Green, wax beans

  • Cabbage

  • Celery

  • Corn, frozen, boiled

  • Cucumber

  • Eggplant

  • Green peas

  • Greens, raw: dandelion, mustard, spinach, turnip

  • Lettuce: cos, endive, iceberg, leaf, romaine, watercress

  • Mushrooms

  • Onions

  • Peppers, sweet or hot

  • Radishes

  • Summer squash

  • Turnips

  • Water chestnuts canned

Double cook potatoes to lower the potassium. Wash and peel the potato. Slice into thin slices. Place the sliced potato in room temperature water. Use two times the amount of water to the amount of potato. Bring to a boil. Drain the water and add two times the amount of water to the amount of potatoes of fresh room temperature water. Boil again.

Salt Substitutes

Many salt substitutes are made with potassium chloride so you should not use them (i.e. Lite Salt, No Salt, Nu Salt). Below are some seasonings that you can use freely.

  • Vegit

  • Pleasoning Mini Salt – https://www.pleasoning.com or call 800.279.1614 for a catalog.

  • Mrs. Dash – all types.

  • Non-sodium spices and herbs, such as garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, etc.

To be safe, always read the labels of any prepared foods you buy. Avoid those that list potassium.

If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions, please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below.

You can also visit our website at: https://www.uwhealth.org/nutrition

Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.

Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770.