A low potassium diet is a diet that is usually recommended for people who have journeyed down the road towards end stage renal disease. As your kidneys start to fail, it's difficult for them to process the potassium in foods and eliminate it.
As potassium builds up in your body, it can affect muscles and how they work. Especially muscle contraction. Our bodies are made of muscles, but one of the most important muscle that you don't want to have stop working is your heart. So a low potassium diet can help you make sure you don't have too much potassium in your blood and affect your heart's ability to contract and pump blood throughout your body.
So for some tips to follow, you need to know the following about a low potassium diet:
1. You should avoid a “salt substitute” that is white. You can use all the Mrs. Dash that you like, but don't use the nu salt or other types of salt replacements that are made from potassium chloride. Read the label to be sure, but most of the time this is the case. While these can be ok for someone who is trying to reduce the intake of sodium chloride, your body is not processing the potassium either, and you will have to use other seasonings to make your low potassium diet work.
2. Greens, beans and tomatoes are high in potassium. You can eat small servings of these, if you like them, but realize that they contain a high dose of potassium. Baked beans, black beans and almost any type of dried beans and peas are high in the amount of potassium in a 1/2 cup serving. You could eat about 1/4 of a cup of them and be ok, so if you are making a lunch taco and want some refried beans, stick to a small amount. Problem is – it's hard to judge. So be careful. You can eat green beans or wax beans, and a lot of the lighter colored vegetables (except potatoes). Foods like cucumbers, lettuce, corn, carrots and squash are low in potassium and serve as a great side dish.
3. Usually, you should substitute rice or pasta in place of potatoes. And apple juice for orange juice. Those two foods are high in the amount of potassium per serving, and if you make it a habit to just not consume those you will be a long way towards making your low potassium diet successful. Fruits that are low in potassium are apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, peaches, pears, strawberries and pineapple. Some of those have a juice associated with them – pineapple juice for example.
It's hard at times to follow a low potassium diet, but you can do it. Changes must be made, but you will feel great after you have taken the steps to create a healthy low potassium diet for your lifestyle.
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Also published on Medium.