The RenalTracker Team
June 1, 2019

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. It has been written and vetted by RenalTracker's team of kidney experts and researchers. The same team was awarded the KidneyX Prize organized by the American Society of Nephrology and HHS for pre-dialysis solution in Washington DC in 2019.   

If you want to join our exclusive coaching on how to avoid dialysis, book a call to see if you qualify.

Potassium Foods List

Potassium is an important part of a person's health. However, a CKD patient like you may need to cut down on this nutrient.

So here is a list of some common foods and their potassium content to help you control your intake.


(below 50 mg)


(from 50-200 mg)


(above 200 mg)

  • cranberries
  • cranberry juice cocktail
  • strawberry
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • radish
  • flour / corn tortilla
  • waffles
  • white bread
  • white rice
  • cheese
  • noodles / pasta
  • tea (herbal)
  • avocado
  • apple
  • apple juice
  • blueberry
  • cherries
  • grapes
  • grapefruit
  • peach
  • pears
  • pineapple
  • plums
  • raspberries
  • watermelon
  • asparagus
  • celery
  • corn
  • cucumber
  • eggplant
  • green beans
  • lettuce
  • onion
  • spinach
  • tofu
  • coffee
  • chocolate
  • apricot
  • banana
  • cantaloupe
  • kiwi
  • mango
  • orange
  • orange juice
  • papaya
  • prunes
  • prune juice
  • raisins
  • artichoke
  • squash (different kinds)
  • beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • carrots
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • lentils
  • okra (ladyfingers)
  • potatoes
  • pumpkin
  • tomato / tomato products
  • zucchini
  • beef
  • chicken breast
  • pork
  • salmon
  • turkey (dark meat)
  • milk
  • molasses
  • peanut butter
  • yogurt

Don't worry about writing these down! We prepared a printable, more detailed copy of this food list. Click the box below and we'll send it to your email inbox for free! 

With this food list, hopefully, you'll be able to keep proper track of your daily potassium intake. At least, now you know which of your favorite foods probably aggravated your kidney condition, and which ones will help you take control of it.

But you might be wondering: "What does potassium have to do with CKD? Why do we need to control it?"

Potassium and CKD

Basically, your impaired kidneys cannot filter potassium properly anymore. Excess potassium in your blood may result to a buildup of the nutrient and worsen damage to your kidneys.

But don't get me wrong: potassium is a necessary element in your body. Among its purposes are:

  • Maintaining fluids and keeping the electrolyte balance in your body's cells;
  • Regulating blood pressure and keeping your heart beating regularly and your muscles working right;
  • Allowing your brain to send nerve impulses throughout your body to aid in the appropriate function of tissues;
  • Building protein and muscle, and maintaining the growth and health of your cells, and;
  • Helping in delivering oxygen to the brain, which promotes good cognitive functioning.

However, when you develop kidney damage, whether because of your behavior or because of genetic factors, your kidneys lose their efficiency.

Kidney held by a hand

A compromised kidney function will not be able to excrete excess potassium properly. As a result, there would be high levels of potassium in the blood, which can cause serious heart problems.

High amounts of potassium in the blood is a condition referred to as hyperkalemia. Consequently, too low potassium in the blood is known as hypokalemia. Symptoms of both conditions are listed below. 

(too much potassium)
(too low potassium)
  • Palpitations
  • Malaise, or a general feeling of discomfort and uneasiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Muscle weakness
  • Myalgia, or muscle pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation

This is why you should, as much as possible, strive to keep the right amount of potassium in your body daily.

So, how much potassium is too much?

"K" for Kidney Numbers

According to the National Institutes of Health, the normal levels of potassium in the body should vary with age. Here is a table as a reference:

A blood work can help you determine these numbers. You can ask your doctor/health professional to schedule one for you.

Speaking of blood work, you will also have to keep track of your kidney numbers to find out how much progress you have achieved during your renal diet.

There are a lot of numbers and tests that you need to be aware of, but the main determinants of your kidneys' progress are your GFR, Creatinine, and BUN. The presence of potassium in your blood can affect these values, so keeping your levels normal will greatly help your kidney functions.

For creatinine, normal levels in the blood are approximately 0.6 - 1.2mg/dL (for adult males), and 0.5-1.1 mg/dL (for adult females).

A healthy individual's blood urea nitrogen (BUN) is normally 7-20 mg/dL (for adults). 

Finally, your GFR (or glomerular filtration rate) - which is calculated based on several factors including your age, weight, and creatinine levels - should normally be above 60. A GFR value of 16-60 is indicative of kidney disease, while 15 below already means kidney failure.

By now, you might be thinking: "How do I limit my potassium, then?"

Your Potassium Limits

The National Kidney Foundation suggests that, in order to maintain good health without risking more damage to your kidneys, you need to keep to a daily potassium intake of 1,500-2,700 milligrams.

That might be hard to do for some, considering the fact that renal dieting is NOT intuitive.

What people might not understand is this: what was good for you before could be bad for you now.

A great example is banana. This fruit is a real good source of nutrients, an even better source than an apple.

But now that you've been diagnosed with CKD, a banana can worsen your condition because of the sheer amount of potassium it gives. Imagine, a medium-sized piece of this fruit has about 422 mg of potassium!

banana and apple check

Even kale, which is considered a great low-calorie food that can help detoxify your liver, has copious amounts of potassium (more than 296 mg).  

Also, let's not forget that you now have to skip the mashed potatoes every Thanksgiving from here on out, because the 515 mg of potassium that you get from just 1 cup of it can get you overboard with your nutrient limits easily.

potatoes and sweet potato

This is why you'll need to be coached on which foods to eat, and which ones to avoid. A renal nurse or a dietitian who can dedicate their time to coaching you will make renal dieting so much easier

Speaking of foods to eat, we're giving away our Renal Cooking eBook for FREE. It has a list of kidney-friendly foods and recipes which will greatly help you with your renal diet. Click the box below and we'll send it to your email inbox for free! 

But surely, you'd like to learn one of the easiest steps to take when limiting your potassium intake, right? Well, you could start by portioning your food!

Food Portioning Hacks

You've seen the food list. You've read the numbers. You know your limits. What you need now is to control your portions

Undoubtedly, if you don't know how to portion your food properly, you may not get the same effect as you should when you put together all that you learned above. So, here is a food portioning hack chart to help you easily remember how to adjust food portions on your plate.

How to determine protein intake
How to determine Carbohydrate intake
How to determine vegetable intake
How to determine fat intake

Properly portioning your food will give your body time to digest the food effectively, allowing better absorption of nutrients and reducing the amount of waste that your kidneys find so taxing to filter.

If you want to optimize your kidney functions, then I suggest you learn the charts above by heart.

To make it easier for you, we created a printable copy of this food portioning hacks chart. Click the box below and we'll send it to your personal email inbox for free.

You can put it somewhere in your kitchen or dining area for easy reference! That way, you will be able to commit them into memory effectively.


Potassium, like any other necessary nutrient, should be regulated in the body - more so when the body has impaired kidneys.

Certain foods can help you keep you potassium in check. It's also imperative to set limits to your food intake, to avoid going overboard with your potassium. This is why kidney dieting (aka renal dieting) exists.

This diet can be tricky, though, so finding a renal coach or a dietitian dedicated to teaching you about it will make a whole lot of difference. However, a good start is to learn how to portion your food properly.

Having the right attitude and learning how to change your behavior for the better is the best way you can combat CKD and, ultimately, delay the onset of dialysis.

P.S. We would love to have you on our RenalTracker Support Group in Facebook. Anyone who needs help and/or wants to help is very welcome to join. Click this link if you want to join the support group.