Low Potassium Foods for Diabetics and Kidney Patients: A Comprehensive Guide

Medically Reviewed By: Dt. SEEMA GOEL (Senior Dietitian, 25 Years of Experience) April 25, 2024

Potassium, often called the “good salt,” is a mineral the body requires for various functions. Among its many roles, potassium is crucial for heart function, skeletal muscle contraction, and the smooth operation of digestive processes. It is indispensable for normal muscular function, including walking, running, and even digestion. Without adequate potassium levels, muscles may become weak and prone to cramping, affecting overall mobility and comfort.

For people with diabetes and kidney disease, managing potassium intake becomes even more critical. Both conditions can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate potassium levels, leading to potentially serious health complications. Let’s understand more about the role of potassium in people managing diabetes and kidney disease.

The Role of Potassium in the Body

Potassium is a mineral that serves as an electrolyte in our body. As per this Harvard article, potassium carries a minute electrical charge, which is needed for activating cellular and nerve functions. Found naturally in numerous foods and available as a supplement, potassium is crucial to our physiological well-being. It has the following functions:

  1. Fluid Balance: Potassium is essential for regulating body fluids, and ensuring proper cell function and hydration.
  2. Electrolyte Role: Potassium acts as an electrolyte, aiding in nerve transmission and muscle function throughout the body.
  3. Blood Pressure Control: Adequate potassium intake is associated with lower blood pressure levels by counteracting sodium’s effects and promoting blood vessel relaxation.
  4. Muscle Function: Potassium is vital for muscle contraction and relaxation, supporting overall strength and coordination.
  5. Bone Health: Potassium contributes to bone health by neutralizing body acids, helping to maintain bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Typically, as per Medical News Today, foods containing approximately 200 mg or less of potassium per serving are considered low-potassium options. It’s important to note that serving sizes significantly impact potassium intake; larger servings have more potassium content and hence require careful consideration when planning meals.

Read More: Best Indian Diet Plan Chart for Weight Loss

How Low or High Level of Potassium Affects the Human Body?

Potassium disorders, characterised by either low levels (hypokalemia) or high levels (hyperkalemia) of potassium in the blood, can have serious health implications. These disorders disrupt the normal functioning of cells, nerves, and muscles, potentially leading to life-threatening complications.

The Effect of Pottasium on People with Diabetes and Kidney Disease:

When someone has diabetes their body either does not produce enough insulin needed to regulate blood sugar levels or cannot use the insulin it produces in an effective way. This leads to high glucose levels, which can wreak havoc on various organs, including the kidneys. Over time, uncontrolled diabetes can impair kidney function and lead to diabetic nephropathy.

When kidneys are compromised, they may struggle to filter excess potassium from the bloodstream, causing potassium levels to rise to dangerous levels—a condition known as hyperkalemia. High potassium levels can disrupt normal heart rhythm, leading to palpitations, weakness, and even cardiac arrest. Therefore, people with diabetes, especially those with kidney complications, must closely monitor their potassium intake and adhere to low-potassium diets to prevent hyperkalemia and its associated risks.

Read More: The Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Low Potassium Foods

Foods that contain no potassium are extremely rare, as potassium is a naturally occurring mineral found in most foods. However, there are plenty of options that are low in this mineral, making them suitable choices for people with dietary restrictions. According to the National Kidney Foundation, here are some low-potassium foods for kidney patients.

Low Potassium Fruits:

Low Potassium Foods | Low Potassium Fruits

Here are some low-potassium fruits and their potassium levels as per USDA:

Apple (Potassium: 195mg):

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, they say. With its low potassium content, apples are a great choice for those watching their potassium intake. Plus, the fibre in apples can help regulate blood sugar levels, making them a smart option for people with diabetes.

Blackberries (Potassium: 162mg):

These tiny but mighty berries pack a punch of flavour without the worry of excess potassium. Blackberries are also rich in antioxidants, which can benefit overall health and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease.

Grapefruit (Potassium: 135mg):

Grapefruits are not only low in potassium but also have a low glycemic index. This makes them suitable for people with diabetes. Additionally, the high vitamin C content in grapefruits can support immune function and promote skin health.

Pineapple (Potassium: 109mg):

Indulge in the tropical sweetness of pineapple without worrying about potassium overload. Pineapples are a good source of bromelain—an enzyme that aids in digestion and reduce inflammation. This makes pineapples beneficial for people with digestive issues or inflammatory conditions.

Strawberries (Potassium: 153mg):

These juicy red berries are not only low in potassium but also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Strawberries are a diabetes-friendly fruit due to their low glycemic index. They also have a high fibre content, which can help regulate blood sugar levels.

Watermelon (Potassium: 112mg):

With its high water content and low potassium levels, watermelon is a refreshing choice for staying hydrated while keeping potassium intake in check. Plus, the presence of lycopene in watermelon may offer protection against certain cancers and promote heart health.

Mandarin oranges (Potassium: 180mg):

These citrus fruits are low in potassium and provide a refreshing burst of flavour. They’re packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, making them a smart choice for overall health.

Pears (Potassium: 116mg):

Pears are a hydrating and low-potassium fruit that’s gentle on the kidneys. They’re rich in fibre and vitamins, promoting digestive health and blood sugar regulation.

Read More: Is Black Coffee Good for Diabetes?

Low-Potassium Vegetables:

Low Potassium Foods | Low-Potassium Vegetables

Low-potassium vegetables for kidney patients are essential for maintaining electrolyte balance and supporting renal health. According to USDA potassium values, here are some low-potassium vegetables:

Asparagus (Potassium: 202mg):

Asparagus spears are not just a culinary delight but also a low-potassium vegetable rich in fibre and antioxidants. Their diuretic properties may benefit kidney health by promoting urine production and aiding in flushing out toxins.

Beans (Potassium: 211mg):

Green beans are versatile and nutritious, providing essential nutrients while being low in potassium. Their fibre content can aid in digestion and help regulate blood glucose levels, making them suitable for people with diabetes.

Green cabbage (Potassium: 153mg):

Crisp and refreshing, green cabbage is low in potassium and high in fibre. Its anti-inflammatory properties may also benefit kidney health, along with being great for weight loss.

Carrots (Potassium: 235mg):

Cooked carrots are a comforting and nutritious option, providing beta-carotene and fibre while being relatively low in potassium. Their natural sweetness makes them a favourite among people managing diabetes, though portion control is key.

Cucumber (Potassium: 180mg):

Cool and crisp, cucumbers are a hydrating and low-potassium vegetable that’s perfect for salads or snacking. Their low carbohydrate content makes them suitable for people managing diabetes.

Eggplant Boiled(Potassium: 123mg):

Eggplant’s rich and meaty texture makes it a satisfying addition to various dishes. Despite its moderate potassium content, its fibre and antioxidant content may support heart health and digestion.

Onions (Potassium: 146mg):

Onions are a flavorful addition to many dishes, offering a range of health benefits despite their moderate potassium content. Their antioxidants may support heart health, while their anti-inflammatory properties may benefit kidney health.

Radish (Potassium: 233mg):

Radishes add a pop of colour and flavour to salads and sandwiches, offering a range of health benefits despite their moderate potassium content. Their natural diuretic properties may benefit kidney health by promoting urine production.

The above low in potassium vegetables provide essential nutrients without compromising dietary restrictions. One key aspect to keep in mind when consuming low-potassium foods is serving size. Even low-potassium fruits and vegetables can become high-potassium options if consumed in large quantities. Therefore, it’s essential to be mindful of portion sizes.

Read More: Is Honey Good for Diabetes Patients?

Leaching Potassium from Vegetables

The technique of leaching involves soaking vegetables in water to reduce their potassium content. As per NCBI, while this method may not remove all potassium, it can significantly lower the levels, especially if followed by boiling the vegetables. To leach vegetables for a low-potassium diet, follow these steps:

  1. Peel and slice the vegetables.
  2. Rinse the vegetables under cold water.
  3. Place the vegetables in a large pot and cover them with warm water.
  4. Allow the vegetables to soak for at least two hours, changing the water every 30 minutes.
  5. After soaking, rinse the vegetables again under cold water before cooking.

Low Potassium Diet

Foods containing low potassium are often recommended for people with certain medical conditions like kidney disease. As per the National Kidney Foundation, a low-potassium diet includes:

  1. Consumption of lower-potassium foods in moderation.
  2. Choosing from a variety of fruits: apples, blueberries, cranberries, grapes, grapefruit, peaches, pears, pineapple, and raspberries.
  3. Vegetables like asparagus, green or wax beans, cabbage, lettuce (iceberg), carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, radishes, and turnips.
  4. Opting for rice, noodles, pasta, bread, and bread products (excluding whole grains).
  5. Enjoy angel cake, yellow cake, pies without chocolate or high-potassium fruit, and cookies without nuts or chocolate for dessert.

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Low Potassium Diet Chart for People with Diabetes

Meal Time Menu
  • – Egg Bhurji (without yolk)
  • – Bread
  • – Chai (unsweetened)
Mid-Morning Snack
  • – Papaya chunks
  • – Roasted fox nuts (makhana)
  • – Chicken Curry
  • – Bhindi Masala
  • – Jeera Rice
Evening Snack
  • – Masala Cucumber Slices with Lemon Juice
  • – Grilled Fish Curry
  • – Palak Dal
  • – Quinoa Pulao with Mixed Vegetables
Fluid Intake
  • – Nimbu Pani or Coconut Water
  • – Plenty of Water

Low Potassium Diet Chart for People with Kidney Disease

A low-potassium diet for kidney patients is designed to help manage electrolyte imbalances and reduce strain on the kidneys. Here is a potassium-restricted diet for chronic kidney disease:

Meal Time Menu
  • – Moong dal cheela (split mung bean pancakes)
  • – Herbal Tea (avoid black tea)
Mid-Morning Snack
  • – Guava Slices (small portion)
  • – Rice Puffs
  • – Boiled Chicken Curry (with minimal spices)
  • – Lauki (bottle gourd) Curry – Steamed Basmati Rice (small portion)
  • – Cucumber Raita (made with low-fat yoghurt)
Afternoon Snack
  • – Boiled Potato Chaat (small portion, avoid adding high potassium ingredients)
  • – Moong Dal Soup
Evening Snack
  • – Fox Nuts (makhana)
  • – Sliced Cucumbers with Lemon Juice
  • – Grilled Fish Tikka (marinated with lemon juice and spices)
  • – Bhindi Masala
  • – Chapati 
  • – Mixed Vegetable Salad with Lemon Juice Dressing
Fluid Intake
  • – Coconut Water (in moderation)
  • – Water (plenty throughout the day)

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a diabetic or kidney-friendly diet. The reality is that everyone’s dietary needs vary based on factors such as the stage of diabetes or kidney disease, lab results, medications, comorbidities like diabetes or high blood pressure, and lifestyle activities like exercising. Discussing your dietary requirements with your healthcare team is the best approach to managing these conditions.

Read More: 10 Low Glycemic Fruits for Diabetics

Foods To Avoid on Low-Potassium Diet

Foods To Avoid on Low-Potassium Diet

It’s essential to be mindful of high-potassium foods and limit or avoid them as necessary. Here are some foods to avoid on low potassium diet as per National Kidney Foundation:

Fruits To Avoid on a Low-Potassium Diet

  1. Bananas: Despite being a healthy and nutritious fruit, bananas are also high in potassium.
  2. Melons, Oranges, and Nectarines: These refreshing fruits are rich in antioxidants but they also contain significant amounts of potassium. Alternatives like berries or apples can be consumed in place of these high-potassium options.
  3. Dried Fruits: Dates, dried figs, and prunes are concentrated sources of potassium due to the dehydration process. Snacking on fresh fruits or opting for smaller portions of dried fruits can help control potassium intake.
  4. Pomegranate and Papaya: While these fruits offer unique flavours and health benefits, they are also high-potassium options that should be consumed mindfully.

Read More: 9 Impressive Health Benefits of Eating Dates (Khajoor)

Vegetables To Avoid on a Low-Potassium Diet

  1. Avocados: Avocados are creamy, delicious and packed with potassium. While they provide healthy fats and other nutrients, individuals on a low-potassium diet may need to limit their avocado intake.
  2. Leafy Green Vegetables: Spinach, Swiss chard, and other deep-coloured greens are nutritious additions to any diet. However, they are also rich in potassium and should be consumed in moderation by those monitoring their potassium levels.
  3. Tomatoes and Tomato-Based Products: Tomatoes are versatile ingredients used in various dishes and sauces. However, they are high in potassium, especially when concentrated in products like tomato paste or sauce.
  4. Potatoes: White and sweet potatoes contain a lot of potassium. While they offer dietary fibre and other nutrients, individuals with potassium restrictions should be cautious with their consumption.
  5. Other Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, parsnips, pumpkin, and winter squash are nutritious vegetables, but they also contain notable amounts of potassium.

Other Foods To Avoid on a Low-Potassium Diet

  1. Dairy Products
  2. Nuts and Seeds
  3. Chocolate, Granola, and Peanut Butter

Read More: Top Six Benefits of Drinking Coconut Water


Prioritizing a low-potassium diet is just one aspect of a comprehensive approach to nutrition for people with diabetes and kidney disease. While a low-potassium diet is crucial for managing these conditions, it is equally important to adopt a balanced and holistic approach to nutrition. This approach includes consuming a variety of nutrient-rich foods along with staying hydrated and obviously maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Read More: Diabetic Diet Chart by Dr. Mohammad Suleman

FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can you provide examples of low protein, low potassium foods?

Some low-protein and low-potassium foods are apples, pears, peaches, berries, grapefruit, asparagus, peppers, bread, and pasta.

Is there a correlation between low potassium and high blood sugar?

When potassium levels in the body are too low, it can reduce insulin production, leading to higher blood sugar levels. If your body has low potassium levels, chances are that it will release less insulin. This increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with normal potassium levels.

What’s a suitable low-potassium diet for individuals with kidney disease?

A low-potassium diet for kidney disease features low-potassium foods like white bread, rice, apples, and cauliflower while limiting high-potassium options such as bananas, oranges, and tomatoes.

What foods can help with potassium deficiency?

Some examples include bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes, white beans, salmon, chicken, and turkey. These foods are rich in potassium and can help replenish levels in individuals experiencing a deficiency.

What are some examples of low-potassium foods in the meats category?

Low potassium foods meats include chicken breast, turkey, and lean cuts of beef or pork.

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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