Fact sheetDiet specifications

Published: November 2012. Next review: 2024.

Potassium diet - low

This document is part of the ACI Diet Specifications for Paediatric Inpatients. It is not to be used for patient education.


To provide a potassium-controlled diet to minimise the occurrence and degree of hyperkalemia.


Restrict foods containing more than 390mg potassium (10mmol) per standard serve. Foods that contain moderate amounts of potassium are allowed, but quantity of serves/serving size may be limited. Two serves per day of dairy to meet calcium and protein needs is required. Boost energy intake with sugars, fats and energy supplements as required.

Level of potassium restriction will vary with the age of the child, medical condition and clinical indicators (serum potassium level). Energy intake needs to be maintained to assist in potassium regulation and to meet energy requirements.


  • haemodialysis/peritoneal dialysis
  • renal failure
  • elevated serum potassium levels.

Nutritional adequacy

This diet should be nutritionally adequate. Nutrients that may need additional supplementation however include: fibre, magnesium, calcium and zinc.

Specific menu planning guidelines

Allowed Not allowed
Hot main dishes

<10mmol (390mg) potassium per serve

Dishes made from fresh/roast or grilled meat

Fish, chicken, eggs, tofu, legumes or lentils

Use fresh tomato instead of tomato paste

>10mmol (390mg) potassium per serve
Sauces, gravies All when included as part of main meal allowance -
Starchy vegetables/pasta/rice

<7mmol (270mg) potassium per serve

Potato, pumpkin and sweet potato: boiled twice, changing the water in between


>7mmol (270mg) potassium per serve

Potato/sweet potato – steamed, baked, jacket, chips

Potato crisps

Pumpkin, baked


<5mmol (195mg) potassium per serve

Alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, cabbage, capsicum, cauliflower, carrots, celery, frozen corn, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, onion, squash, zucchini – limit 2-3 serves per day, boiled preferable to steamed

>5mmol (195mg) potassium per serve

Artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, fresh corn, mushrooms, tomato, silverbeet, spinach

Canned beans (e.g. kidney, lima, navy)

Dried peas (e.g. chickpeas, lentils, split peas)

Soups None All types
Sandwiches White bread Wholemeal bread
Salads, dressings

<15mmol (585mg) potassium per full salad serve

<10mmol (390mg) potassium per side salad serve

Dressings – portion control only

All others
Breads, cereals

All white bread and muffins

Most plain breakfast cereals (e.g. oats, Weet-Bix™, cornflakes, Rice Bubbles®)

Wholegrain and wholemeal

Bran cereals, and those with added fruit (e.g. Sultana Bran®, Just Right®, muesli)

Spreads Butter, margarines, jam, honey Vegemite™, peanut butter
Hot breakfast choices All others – eggs, bacon, sausages, canned spaghetti

Baked beans

Hash brown


Apple, berry fruits, cherries, grapes, kiwi fruit, mango, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, watermelon

Canned fruit in water, drained – two fruits, peaches, pineapple, pear

Apricot, avocado, banana, honeydew, kiwi fruit, mango, melon, orange, rhubarb

All dried fruits

Canned fruit in juice

Yoghurt Yoghurt as part of 2 dairy serves per day total -

<5mmol (195mg) potassium per serve

Plain cake, pavlova, jelly, apple sponge, creamy rice

Custard, ice-cream and yoghurt as part of 2 dairy serves total

All others
Milk and cheese 2 serves dairy per day include milk, cheese, custard, yoghurt, soy and soy alternatives Protein enriched milk (e.g. Shape™)

Cordial, soft drinks, apple juice

Milk or milk alternatives as per dairy allowance

Orange, tropical and vegetable juices

Milo®, cocoa

Biscuits Plain crackers and biscuits (e.g. Sao™, Milk Arrowroot™, Morning Coffee™) Chocolate, wholemeal or fruit biscuits

Rice snacks, corn chips

Garlic, herbs, spices, vinegar

Chutney and pickles (small amounts only)

Potato crisps




  1. Agency for Clinical Innovation. Nutrition standards for paediatric inpatients in NSW hospitals. Sydney 2011.
  2. Agency for Clinical Innovation. Nutrition standards for adult inpatients in NSW hospitals. Sydney 2011.
  3. Dietitians Association of Australia. 2009. Nutrition Manual 8th ed. Canberra: DAA.
  4. American Dietetic Association. Paediatric Nutrition Care Manual. Chicago: ADA.
  5. National Kidney Foundation. Potassium and your CKD diet. NKD: New York.
  6. Voss, D. Potassium in pre-dialysis patients. Nephrology 2005;10(Suppl 5):S188-S190.
  7. CARI Guidelines. Potassium in pre-dialysis patients. 2004.
  8. Heart Foundation Healthy Eating.
  9. NHMRC 2003 Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia.
  10. ANZRGT evidence based practice guidelines for nutrition management of CKD in adults.
  11. Pennington and Douglas Bowes & Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, 18th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005.
  12. Caring for Australians with Renal Impairment Guidelines.
  13. National Kidney Foundation Kidney Disease Outcome Quality Initiative.
  14. Shaw V and Lawson M. 2007. Clinical Paediatric Dietetics. 3rd Edition. Blackwell Publishing.
Back to top