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What is a low-potassium diet?

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Quick Answer

A typical low-potassium diet may be ordered by a doctor, and it typically represents several food groups with foods that are known to have low potassium levels, such as certain proteins, vegetables and fruits. In some cases, potassium can actually be removed from foods using a washing method.

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Full Answer

Nearly all foods contain some level of potassium, and the mineral is an important contributor to many of the body's functions. However, some people, such as those with kidney problems, may be ordered to go on a low-potassium diet to reduce the strain the mineral can cause on the kidneys. For example, the usual recommended daily potassium intake is around 4,700 mg, but for a person with chronic kidney disease, it may be in the range of 1,500 to 2,700 mg per day.

For proteins, small to moderate servings of eggs, lean meats, cold-water fish and beans accommodate a low-protein diet. Members of the squash family, sprouts, peppers, celery and lettuce are among vegetables with low potassium levels, and fruits such as watermelons, grapes, apples, plums and oranges are typically safe, as well. Many canned fruits have lower levels of potassium because they are soaked in water, which pulls some of the potassium out of the fruit. This process, called leaching, can also be done with fresh vegetables at home by soaking them in warm water for at least two hours.

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