Potassium can easily be found in almost all foods. It is essential to your body for regular heart beat and muscle contraction. Kidneys are the main organ that regulates its levels in your body. If your kidneys cannot carry out its work properly, you may need to watch out your potassium intake. It is especially true when your blood test result reveals that your blood potassium levels go beyond normal range. In severe case, high blood potassium levels can lead to severe muscle weakness, irregular heart beat and/or heart attack.
Here are some tips to control dietary potassium intake:-
1. Know your limit. Daily potassium requirement varies, especially depending on your kidney functionality. In general, individuals with chronic kidney disease and high potassium levels should limit their potassium intake at 2000-3000mg/day.
2. Familiarise common foods with different levels of potassium content. Almost all foods contain potassium, particularly fruits, vegetables, beverages, pulses, legumes, and spices. In fact they can be categorised into high, moderate, and high potassium foods and these categories are shown in the table below. You should choose foods with low-to-moderate levels of potassium content as much as possible.
|Beverages||Syrup drink 1 glass||Barley water 1 glass, Chinese tea 1 glass, non-cola beverages 1 glass, sugar cane juice1 glass||Canned fruit juice 1 glass, cocoa or chocolate based drink 1 glass, coconut water 1 glass, fresh fruit juice 1 glass, malted beverages 1 glass|
|Vegetables||Bean sprouts/taugeh ½ cup, bitter gourd ½ cup, leek ½ cup, cucumber ½ cup, kangkung ½ cup, cabbage ½ cup, sweet potato leaves ½ cup, white raddish ½ cup, snake gourd ½ cup, ketola ½ cup||All variety of beans (long beans, French beans, broad beans, peas) ½ cup, asparagus ½ cup, bamboo shoots ½ cup, brinjal ½ cup, capsicum ½ cup, red carrot ½ cup, cauliflower ½ cup, lettuce (sang coy) ½ cup, pumpkin ½ cup, sengkuang ½ cup, tomato ½ cup||Banana stem ½ cup, drumstick leaves (murrangai/kelor) ½ cup, jantung pisang ½ cup, petai ½ cup, bayam ½ cup, sawi ½ cup, broccoli ½ cup, ulam ½ cup, cekur manis ½ cup, kalian ½ cup, tubers (potato, sweet potato, yam, tapioca) 1 cup|
|Fruits||Apple (red or green) 1 whole, pear 1 whole, guava ½, papaya 1 slice, watermelon 1 slice, pineapple 1 slice||Canned fruits (minus syrup) ½ cup, lime 1 whole, lemon 1 whole, lychee (minus syrup) ½ cup, oranges 1 whole, persimmon 1 whole, pomelo, rambutan||banana 1 whole, cempedek, ciku, durian, nangka, grapes, langsat, mata kucing, peach, plum|
|Miscellaneous items that are high in potassium include:
All varieties of legumes and pulses (dhal, chickpeas, soya, etc.), nuts, spice powder (serbuk kari, rempah, etc.), brown sugar, baked beans, fresh grounded chilli/cili boh, chocolate based products, coconut based products, dried fruits, dried mushrooms, dried prawns/fish, essence of chicken, asam jawa, tempoyak, wholemeal products, etc.
Adopted from Tilakavati et al. (2001)
3. Mind your portion and consumption frequency. Dietary potassium intake increases with food portion size and consumption frequency. You are possible to exceed your potassium allowance by consuming low-to-moderate potassium foods in large portion and/or more frequent. Hence, your focus should put on total daily potassium intake.
4. Change food preparation and cooking method. Your potassium intake can be reduced by doing some minor changes in food preparation and cooking methods. Here are some practical tips:-
5. Be prudent to the use of herbal and traditional remedies. Herbs and botanical products can be high in potassium and hence dangerous to you. The essence of these products can be even worse. You are advised to consult your healthcare providers before using any herbal and traditional remedies.
6. Consult dietitian. Restricting food unnecessarily and adopting fad diet can be life-threatening. If you have questions and/or face difficulties in managing your diet, do not hesitate to talk to a dietitian (a well-trained and qualified professional in food and nutrition).