Food With High Potassium And Sodium


Food With High Potassium And Sodium Would you like to eat a low sodium diet? Low sodium diets have long been known to help reduce high blood pressure and prevent kidney stones, as well as slow the progression of osteoarthritis. A recent study on low sodium diets also concluded that it may help protect against stomach cancer and stroke. If you are looking for ways to reduce your sodium intake, consider these tips:

  1. Eat more potassium-rich foods while decreasing sodium intake. Potassium is important in maintaining an alkaline environment in your body which helps balance acid levels and build muscle mass.
  2. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots which all contain high amounts of potassium. They are also relatively low in sodium!
  3. Avoid eating processed foods that contain excessive amounts of added sodium such as canned soups, fast food items and salty snacks like chips or pretzels.

Sodium and Potassium

What is potassium and what does it do?

Potassium is a very important mineral. It plays a key role in controlling the function of nerves and muscles, particularly the heart. Potassium is found in many foods, especially many fruits and vegetables. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and may also have benefits such as reducing the risk of strokes. Most of the extra potassium eaten in the diet is removed by the kidneys. When kidney function decreases to a certain level, the body cannot get rid of the extra potassium and potassium levels may rise. Therefore, it is important for people with kidneys that are not healthy to learn more about potassium and to be aware of how much potassium they consume.

What can happen if potassium levels are too high or too low?

If potassium levels become too high (for example, if too much potassium is taken in and kidney function is not good enough to remove the extra potassium, or if potassium levels rise due to certain medications), then serious and potentially life-threatening side effects can occur. These effects may include weakness, irregular heartbeat/palpitations, numbness, tingling or even death. Similar side effects can also occur if potassium levels are too low. Other effects of very low potassium include muscle cramping, nausea, vomiting and confusion. Potassium levels could become too low if intake is very low, if diarrhea is present (some potassium is lost through the stool), or from certain medications such as some fluid pills. In kidney disease patients, severely low potassium levels, particularly low enough to cause problems are not as common as high potassium levels. It is also important to know that people with low or high potassium levels may NOT have any symptoms or may have vague symptoms. This is why it is very important to make sure that your blood work is monitored regularly and that you follow the recommendations of your health care providers. And if you do notice any of the previously stated symptoms, make sure to seek medical care immediately!

How much potassium is safe for you?

For people without kidney problems, the kidney is very good about controlling the right amount of potassium in the body. It is recommended that people with healthy kidneys take in at least 4.7 grams of potassium each day. In early stages of kidney disease, problems with high potassium typically do not occur because the kidneys are still able to get rid of extra potassium. However, for people whose kidneys are not functioning normally, there comes a point when the kidneys can no longer remove extra potassium. A buildup of potassium can be very dangerous. More research still needs to be done so that we understand how much potassium people with kidney problems should take in. The current recommendations by the National Kidney Foundation are that people with mild to moderate kidney disease (not on dialysis) take in 2 to 4 grams of potassium per day. However, this has not been well-studied yet and also in part depends on how severe your kidney function is or if you are on medications (such as angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, or fluid pills) which may raise or lower your potassium levels, and other factors.

What should you do?

If you have kidney disease, you should follow up with your doctor(s) and have your kidney labs checked regularly (this includes your potassium level). The SAFE range of blood potassium levels is 3.5-5.0 mEq/L. If your level is lower or higher than this, you should talk to your doctor and to a kidney dietitian to find ways to get your potassium level into the safe range. You should also make sure that all of your doctors are aware of your kidney problem, because there are certain medications that you should avoid when you have kidney disease which can raise your potassium to high levels.

What if you have been told that your potassium level is on the high side and that you should limit your potassium intake?

It is very important to speak with a kidney dietitian and with your doctor to discuss ways to limit your potassium intake if your potassium level is high or your kidney function is becoming severely impaired. Many fruits and vegetables, although otherwise healthy, are often high in potassium, and may need to be limited. Most people know that bananas and oranges are high in potassium, but other fruits that are high in potassium include: avocados, cantaloupe, papayas, honeydew melons and mangoes. High-potassium vegetables include: potatoes, beans (except green beans), spinach, tomatoes and winter squash. Milk products and chocolate are also high in potassium.

One problem with a low potassium diet is that many otherwise healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables are high in potassium. However, there are several fruit options that you can choose which are lower in potassium. If you are advised to lower your potassium intake, you can choose lower potassium fruit options such as: apples, berries, grapes, watermelons, peaches, plums or pineapples. Fruit drinks like apple, cranberry or grape juice are lower in potassium than orange juice. Vegetable options that are lower in potassium include green beans, summer squash, onions and bell peppers.

Vegetables, including potatoes, can be leached (peeled, cut into small pieces, rinsed and soaked for at least four hours, then rinsed again) to lower the potassium content.

Other tips for keeping potassium at safe levels:

  • Remember to watch your portion size, • because even if you eat low potassium foods, the potassium can build up if you eat large portions.
  • Throw away the liquids found in canned fruits • and vegetables.
  • Use caution with salt substitutes. Although lowering sodium intake is extremely important, you should be extremely careful with salt substitutes (including low-sodium packaged foods) because many of them contain potassium!
  • It is important to read food labels carefully, but please note that food companies are NOT required to list the potassium content on food labels. So, foods can be high in potassium, but the label will not tell you how much potassium is in the food. If you are unsure of certain foods, talk to your doctor or a renal dietitian.

Again, be sure to see your kidney doctor and kidney dietitian regularly! Keeping potassium levels healthy and following a low-sodium diet and other recommendations by your health care team are important ways to keep your body healthy!

Dr. Sharon Turban, MD, MHS, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, is a kidney doctor whose research interests include investigating the effects of diet on blood pressure and kidney function. She is the author of several papers and book chapters, including those related to sodium and potassium and the kidney. Dr. Turban is the principal investigator of the Chronic Kidney Disease-Potassium (CKD-K) trial, which is looking at the effects of different levels of potassium intake on patients with chronic kidney disease.


Sodium is an essential nutrient required in small amounts in the diet. It is necessary for balance of fluids in the body, together with chloride and potassium, transmitting impulses in nerves and muscles.

Often “salt” and “sodium” are used synonymously. However, salt is sodium chloride, in which sodium is only 39% of the total weight.

What are the sources of sodium in diet?
Sodium is found naturally in many foods, such as celery, milk, meat and shellfish.It is added to many processed foods because of its preservative and flavouring properties, such as cheese, packet soups, salty snacks, bread and canned foods.

Sodium is lost in urine and particularly sweat as sodium chloride. Sodium present in foods is not adequate to meet the requirement. Hence sodium chloride, ie salt has to be included in the diet.
A high intake is linked to an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease and strokes. WHO recommends 5g of salt per day to prevent diseases like hypertension.

Tips for a low sodium diet:

  • Check sodium/salt-content on food labels. A lot of processed foods contain excess salt. Eg.breakfast cereals, muesli, bread, cheese, mustard, mayonnaise, soy  sauce, salad dressings, dips  and ketchup
  • Reduce salt in recipes whenever possible. Use herbs, spices and other flavourings to enhance taste of foods and in meals
  • Whenever possible, serve more fresh fruit and vegetables rather than canned foods

The taste for salt is acquired. Everyone can learn to enjoy less.


Potassium serves many important functions in the body. It controls the balance of water between and within cells (together with sodium and chloride). It plays an essential role in the stimulation of nerves and in muscle contraction and is essential for normal heart activity.

What are the sources of Potassium?
Foods like vegetables and legumes like avocado, broccoli, carrots, peas, lentils, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits like apricots, bananas, citrus fruits, milk, dairy products and nuts, meat and fish (clams, halibut, salmon and sardines) are good sources of potassium. Potassium losses from cooking may be significant.

How much Potassium do we need?
ICMR recommends 1100 mg/day of Potassium for children from 1-3 years of age. 1550 mg/d of Potassium is recommended for children from 4 to 6 years of age. 3225 mg/d of Potassium is recommended for adult sedentary woman and 3750 mg/d for adult sedentary male.

Sodium, Potassium and Health

Potassium and sodium are electrolytes that help your body function normally by maintaining fluid and blood volume. However, consuming too little potassium and too much sodium can raise your blood pressure.

Though the words salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. Salt (also known by its chemical name, “sodium chloride”) is a crystal-like compound that is common in nature. Sodium is a mineral, and one of the chemical elements found in salt.

Most  potassium we eat  naturally occurs in vegetables, fruit, seafood, and dairy products. On the other hand, most  sodium we eat is  added to packaged and restaurant foods.

Average sodium intake in children

What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012

Potassium, Sodium, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, and Stroke

Increasing potassium intake can help decrease your blood pressure if you have high blood pressure. By lowering blood pressure, increasing potassium intake can also reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. In contrast, consuming too much sodium can raise your blood pressure.  Limiting sodium intake is especially important if you have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sodium and Children

Nearly 9 in 10 US children eat more sodium than recommended and about 1 in 9 children has raised blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Lowering sodium in children’s diets can help lower blood pressure and may prevent heart disease later in life.

Potassium in the Food Supply and Potassium Intake

Most Americans eat too little potassium and too much sodium. Some good sources of potassium include bananas, oranges and melons, cooked spinach and broccoli, and potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The majority of sodium in our diets comes from packaged and restaurant food (not the salt shaker) as a result of food processing. Even foods that may not taste salty can be major sources of sodium. Foods with only moderate amounts of sodium, such as bread, can be major sources of sodium because they’re eaten so frequently. Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day, on average. This is well above the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation.

Food With High Potassium And Sodium

Many of the foods that you already eat contain potassium. The foods listed below are high in potassium. If you need to boost the amount of potassium in your diet, make healthy food choices by picking items below to add to your menu.

Many fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium:

  • Bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit (some dried fruits, such as prunes, raisins, and dates, are also high in potassium)
  • Cooked spinach
  • Cooked broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Pumpkins
  • Leafy greens

Juice from potassium-rich fruit is also a good choice:

  • Orange juice
  • Tomato juice
  • Prune juice
  • Apricot juice
  • Grapefruit juice

Certain dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, are high in potassium (low-fat or fat-free is best).

Some fish contain potassium:

  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Trout
  • Rockfish

Beans or legumes that are high in potassium include:

  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils

Other foods that are rich in potassium include:

  • Salt substitutes (read labels to check potassium levels)
  • Molasses
  • Nuts
  • Meat and poultry
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Bran cereal
  • Whole-wheat bread and pasta

Foods With Sodium

Sodium is found in many foods common to the American diet, so it doesn’t take much to reach and exceed the maximum safe amount per day. Here are four types of foods you should avoid or eat less of to reduce your intake of dietary sodium.

1. Soups

All canned and packaged soups contain sodium, but the amount varies by type of soup and brand. Soups may have as little as 66 milligrams to as much as 1,880 milligrams per serving. The average amount per can of soup is 410 milligrams, but many brands far exceed this amount.

2. Cottage Cheese

This dairy product has good amounts of protein and phosphorus, but it is high in sodium. Most brands average 300 to 400 milligrams for half a cup of cottage cheese, with some brands reaching 900 milligrams. 

3. Frozen Foods

Frozen foods are abundant in excess sodium, even ones marketed as healthy or low-sodium. Some single-serve lasagnas might have 900 milligrams of sodium, while a single slice of pizza could have 700 milligrams or more.

4. Sauces

Sauces and condiments can be incredibly high in sodium. Soy sauce contains up to 1,000 milligrams per tablespoon, while barbecue sauce averages 450 milligrams.

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