Q: My friend has stage 3 kidney disease. His doctor asked him to eat foods low in potassium. So far, we can't find potassium in the nutrition information available on food labels. Is there anywhere he can get a list of foods low in potassium?
A: You can have a high blood potassium level (hyperkalemia) for several reasons. Kidney disease is one of the most common causes. And medicine that makes the kidneys hold on to potassium can also cause it, including:
1. Certain diuretics such as spironolactone (Aldactone, generic) and triamterene (Dyrenium, generic)
2. Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors)
3. Angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs)
4. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen
Two other causes of high potassium include using a salt substitute that has potassium in it or taking a potassium supplement.
Instead of looking for foods low in potassium, it might be easier for your friend to simply avoid foods that are high in potassium. Here are some foods with the highest potassium content:
Potatoes with skins
Tomatoes and tomato sauce
(Howard LeWine, M.D., is a practicing internist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass., and Chief Medical Editor of Internet Publishing at Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School.)
(For additional consumer health information, please visit http://www.health.harvard.edu.)
Potassium-rich foods can cause trouble in kidney disease
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