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Renal Diet Cheat Sheet: Foods High in Potassium and Phosphates to Avoid and Substitute (when You’re on Dialysis)

Minerals can build up to high levels in patients with kidney failure. Dietary awareness and self-management are critical to avoid complications.

Renal Diet Foods List

Both potassium and phosphate are minerals found in most of the foods we eat. In the right amount, these minerals keep your nerves and muscles functioning well, and your bones healthy. However, too much of these minerals will wreak havoc in your body. When your kidneys are fine and dandy, they help keep these minerals in check. However, when you experience kidney failure, your kidneys won’t be able to filter them out, leading to a high build up of potassium and phosphate in your system. 

High potassium levels in blood tends to lead to complications like body weakness, muscle cramps, breathing difficulties, irregular heartbeats and worst of all, heart attacks.

High phosphate levels in the blood also increases the risk of you having weak and brittle bones, itching, as well as calcium deposits in blood vessels and organs in the body (which can lead to cancerous tumours and heart attacks).

When on dialysis

If you’re a dialysis patient, you should be extra aware of the types of foods which contain potassium and phosphate as your kidneys cannot do their job anymore. While everyone knows that bananas are rich in potassium, many are not aware that many other types of foods contain high levels of these minerals. Some foods are double dangers to a dialysis diet, containing high levels of both potassium and phosphate.

We’ve compiled a useful list of foods that are high in phosphate and potassium (and what you can substitute them with), so you can better self-manage your diet.

Foods High in Potassium

Food TypeHigh in Potassium (Limit)Substitute with
Fruits BananasFresh peaches
HoneydewPineapples
KiwiCanned pears
MangoesTangerines
OrangesMandarin oranges
Orange juiceApple juice
Canned or frozen peaches Fruit cocktail
PearsApples
Raisins Blueberries
GrapefruitsRaspberries
Grapefruit juiceGrape juice
Cantaloupe Blackberries
GreensMustard greens (choy sum)Cooked cabbage
Swiss chard Kale
PotatoesSweet potatoes, white potatoesCorn
VeggiesLadies fingersAsparagus
Tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juiceOnions
AvocadoCelery
ZucchiniCucumbers
Butternut SquashBoiled cauliflower

Foods High in Phosphorus

High in Phosphorus (Limit)Substitute With
Processed meats (like luncheon meat, ham, bacon etc)Fresh chicken
Liver Fish
Sardines Prawns or shrimp
Dark colas (like Coke, A&W root beer, Pepsi)Clear-coloured sodas (Sprite, 100 Plus etc, but limit intake)
OatmealGround wheat, or grits

Double-Danger Foods (High in Both Potassium and Phosphorus)

High in Potassium AND Phosphorus (Limit)Substitute with
Hard cheese Low-fat cream cheese
Chocolate desserts and puddingWhite cakes, desserts made with lemon and apple (diabetics should consult a dietitian)
Cream soups Low-sodium broth-based soups
Peanut butter Low-fat cream cheese, jam
MilkCoffeemate
Dried beans, peasFresh or frozen green beans
Ice creamSorbet, sherbet
Nuts and seedsUnsalted popcorn, rice cakes, salt-free pretzels
Wholegrains like wheat bread, pasta, bran cereal, wild or brown riceWhite bread, rice cereal, corn flakes, white pasta, white rice, couscous, graham crackers
Dried fruitsGrapes or low-potassium fresh fruits

List of High-Phosphorus Foods to Avoid / Limit

DairyFruits / VeggiesOther
Cheese Beans (Except green beans)Biscuits
Ice cream (except sherbets)BroccoliBran and bran products
MilkMushroomsChocolate
PuddingRaisins Cheerios
YogurtClams
Dark-coloured colas
Cornbread
Chicken or beef liver
Lentils
Nuts
Oatmeal
Peanut butter
Rice (brown or wild)
Sardines

List of High-Potassium Foods to Limit / Avoid

FruitsVeggiesOther
ApricotsAsparagusBran and bran products
BananasAvocadoClams
Honeydew, cantaloupeBeans (except green beans)Chocolate
Grape juice (grapes are OK)BroccoliCoffee (limit 2 cups / day)
MangoesBrussell sproutsLentils
Oranges and other citrus fruits (and juice)Greens Milk
Papaya Mushrooms Salt substitute
Prunes (and juice)Potatoes (including sweet potatoes)Yogurt
RaisinsSpinach
Squash
Tomatoes (and sauces)
Zucchini
 

Eating a renal diet will help you manage your chronic kidney disease well, and you’ll feel less tired, weak, and sick. Hopefully, this cheat sheet will help you on your way to a healthier, happier life. With that said, everyone’s needs are different, and kidney patients’ dietary needs may change depending on the stage of your kidney conditions. It’s always best to consult your renal dietitian before making changes to your dietary plan.

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Do you have CKD or kidney failure (or know anyone who do)? How do you deal with the dietary changes? What’s your favourite recipe to share with your fellow CKD patients?

Edited by: The HealthWorks Team
Adapted from: “Potassium and Phosphate: Dangers in a Dialysis Diet” by National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia
Sources: UNC Kidney Center and Only Health.

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