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Jun 11, 2008 08:47 AM

Diabetic, Low Potassium Diet suggestions

A member of our family, who has diabetes, has just been diagnosed with diabetic kidney disease and now also has to limit high potassium rich foods. The list below contains low potassium foods. Yes, it is long, but you will see it is limiting in fruit and vegetable choices. Interestingly enough, whole grain noodles and bread are not advised, but refined products are OK. Protein also needs to be limited to 60-70 grams per day. The recommended portions are 1/2 cup of ea item. Looking for recipes that are low in carbs, as well as low in potassium that might make the individual perk up because right now all they are seeing are the limits. TIA!

Alfalfa sprouts
Apple (1 medium)
Bread (Not Whole Grains!)
Carrots, cooked
Celery (1 stalk)
Corn, fresh (½ ear)
Fruit Cocktail
Grape Juice
Grapefruit (½ whole)
Peas, green
Mandarin Oranges
Peaches, fresh (1 small)
Pears, fresh (1 small)
Pineapple Juice
Plums (1 whole)
Tangerine (1 whole)
Watermelon(limit to 1 cup)
Water Chestnuts
Water cress
Yellow Squash
Zucchini Squash

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  1. I suspect the whole grains are restricted because of the higher level of phosphorus. Typical "renal" diets limit not only potassium, but also phosphorus, sodium and overall fluid intake. A lot depends on the stage of kidney disease and whether dialysis is in the picture or not.

    Would be happy to help, but please expand on whether potassium and protein are the only restrictions (that way, I'm not recommending soups if fluid intake is limited, lots of suggestions with meat, dairy and beans if phosphorus is indeed restricted, etc.) Also, if you happen to know what kind of diabetic meal plan s/he has and a gram limitation on potassium, that would be helpful to me.

    I hope we can help and cheer up your family member! Renal diets can seem awfully restrictive at first, but with a little creativity and help from caring family members, hopefully s/he will not get too frustrated. :)

    Edited to add: In case you haven't seen them, the National Kidney Foundation has this nice set of web pages for certain dietary considerations:

    7 Replies
    1. re: 4Snisl

      Thanks so much for your speedy reply! At the present moment there is no limit on fluids nor on phosphorous (we asked). She is in Stage 4, about 25-30% kidney function still left, not yet a candidate for dialysis or kidney transplant (we asked about that too). As for the diabetic meal plan, she has been following the South Beach diet, which is another reason this is so depressing, as she has been eating lots of whole vegetables, low sugar fruit, high fiber carbs and the renal diet list seems like a reversal of all the "good" foods she has been eating. TIA!

      1. re: Diane in Bexley

        Thanks for the additional info :).

        For a nice, low-protein "main dish" kind of meal, I love these zucchini cakes.

        They just need to be sauteed in a small amount of oil, not deep-fried.

        Another low-potassium main dish- saute a nice mushroom cap, fill with a peppery watercress salad dressed with lemon juice and a little olive oil and a few sauteed shrimp (number depending on what her potassium limits are).

        Lettuce wraps are another nice way to stretch "protein"- with a little meat, add in lots of sauteed fresh mushrooms (white buttons are fine, but even better with shitakes, oyster, enoki, etc.), scallions, water chestnuts, and shredded carrots and season with ginger, garlic, a little soy sauce and a touch of sesame oil. This also makes a nice filling for dumplings. Could also stir this mixture with noodles for something like a lo mein.

        Sometimes, I also forget how nice simple vegetable soups are, and they can make that 1/2 cup serving a lot more satisfying. Buy the freshest carrots you can, cook until tender in a little olive oil/butter and water, salt and pepper- maybe a garlic clove if you feel like it. Blend it up, snip in some fresh dill, marjoram, thyme, and enjoy! This also works great with asparagus and corn.

        I'm sure more ideas will come up. If you know the more precise limitation, you'll have a lot more freedom in knowing how to balance out ingredients and meals. And you may find some of your current favorites are "naturally" low-potassium! I hope this helps....

        1. re: 4Snisl

          Be careful with carrots, they are quite high in potassium

          1. re: Mellicita

            Hence the mention of the 1/2 cup portion, a recipe that requires cooking and listed alternatives to carrots. Since cooked carrots are on the above-listed "low-potassium" list, I assumed they were OK by the RD/MD/DO. However, I agree that they are definitely on the upper level of the "low-potassium" scale.

            Another website you may want to consider for nutritional info, Diane, is Calorie King:

          2. re: 4Snisl

            People on peritoneal dialysis have entirely different requirements and restrictions. They need LARGE amounts of protein. In general the dialysis usually removes potassium and phosphorus. My husband has to have at least 100 gr of protein a day, and to achieve this he takes a special liquid protein, plus some protein bars, and all the protein he can eat in our meals. We do now try to keep a rough calculation of his potassium intake.

            The kidney org web site cited above only discusses the needs of those on hemodialysis. They seem not to be aware that such a thing as peritoneal dialysis exists...

            1. re: 4Snisl

              When I was diagnosed, my renal doctor gave me a list of high potassium foods, and mushrooms were at the top of the list. Also all whole grains, legumes (black beans, kidney beans, chick peas, navy beans, black eyed peas, etc), asparagus and peaches, and carrots! It is confusing to me when every list you look at is a little different!

          3. re: 4Snisl

            Hi 4Snisl, I just found this website, and after reading your info for Diane in Bexley thought I would like to join so I could learn more. My husband had both kidneys removed 3 weeks ago due to Severe Adult PKD (polycystic kidney disease). Now of course we r faced with a major change in his diet. I am currently searching for websites looking for recipies that will pertain to his specific restrictions. He can only have 9 proteins a day, 1L of fluid from any and all sources, no salt, and as little potassium and phophorous as possible. OMG, and the recipe suggestions I was given contain alot of things he doesn't normally eat, and or doesn't like. He has always been a meat, potato's and vegetables kinda guy. He drinks decaf coffe, water and coke...that's it! Not allowed coke anymore, so he is trying to switch to clear pops, which he hates! Anyway, sry, I will check out the website you suggested to Diane in Bexley, but if you know of anything better that would help with his restrictions, it sure would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much in advance if you have any ideas, if not, it was nice just the same to fine your message to Diane. P.S.- good luck to u Diane in Bexley if you see this. Have a great day all!

          4. Hi Diane, I am a T1 diabetic and frequently use the messageboards for Type 1's on the American Diabetes Association's website. The folks there are so generous with their information and I'm sure they can offer some suggestions for food, recipes, etc. Here's a link:

            Your family member is very fortunate to have you!

            1. One thought that came to mind... since she will be dealing with a lower protein diet. Is to stretch the taste of meat or chicken by using white bread or white rice (sorry, I know this will be hard to do instead of brown if she was on SouthBeach previously, but the potassium is lower). Eg, portioned serving of chicken stuffed with bread, onions, celery, apples, low sodium chicken broth, and poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and pepper. Or stuffed with a similar rice pilaf

              Also ground beef could be stretched with some rice, to make cabbage rolls or meatloaf (with a brown gravy, rather than tomato) or meatballs in a cream sauce (roux thickened broth with a small amount of cream.... real heavy cream, is fairly low in potassium compared to milk, 1 tbsp cream = 20 mg potassium or 1% USDA for standard diets)

              I love to make a delicious apple concoction in the microwave. Peel and slice one apple, add a tbsp of water to the bowl, add a touch of sweetner (equal or sugar or splenda), a touch of butter (I use I can't believe its not butter spray or even butter flavored extract sometimes), and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and microwave until the apples are soft. This makes a delcious dessert or snack.
              Also, you can add a pinch of dry mustard (reg dijon mustard condiment will be higher in sodium, but you can use it if you just adjust for your daily allowance) and serve warm over a portion of pork tenderloin slices.

              This website has a ton of useful tips and recipes (click on link to left)

              This site will help you find out more extensive nutritional information for foods, including potassium, so you can learn to moderately include foods in the diet.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Mellicita

                PS, did your physician or dietician give you set goals for the day? Eg, a certain number of mg of potassium or sodium per day? That would help in making suggestions if you could let us know what limits there are.

                That way you could see how certain foods could be worked into the diet in moderation, staying within the guidelines. Otherwise, it starts to feel like one big exercise in "I cant have this, can only have a tad of that" frustration.

                I also noticed that soft goat cheese appears to be low in potassium (7.3 mg/ounce), as well as protein (5g/ounce), and carbs (close to zero).

                You could do roasted veggies off the list - eg, asparagus, eggplant, mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini - in olive oil, and herbs, and easy on the salt. With a panko or breadcrumb crusted round of goat cheese. I use nuts for the crust, like pine nuts, but you will have to account for the potassium in the daily total for the diet (167 mg/ounce or 5% USDA)

              2. Thanks for this List! My 85-yr. old mom is diabetic T2 and has taped it to her refrigerator door as a reference for her Low Potassium diet.

                1. Found an interesting web site from Canada dealing with kidney diet: