In 2014, Nielsen, a research company, released a study on snacking that indicated that approximately 91% of Americans snack on a daily basis. So, if you’re like 91% of Americans, you likely want to grab a snack in the morning, afternoon, or before bed, to tide you over until your next meal or satisfy a craving. Having a repertoire of quick “go-to” foods is useful not just for snacking. If you’re in a hurry at work or just want to have a light meal, “snack foods” can be nutritious and tasty. Having a few favorite snacks can help keep you on track and keep your blood pressure and blood sugar in check. Common snack foods found in Starbucks, the local convenience store, or even your pantry can often be super high in sodium or phosphorus or potassium, and while everything is okay in moderation – on a daily basis these won’t usually be your best choices.
We couldn’t provide a comprehensive list of useful snacks in this post, but will have several more snack posts to offer you a smorgasbord of ideas. We’ll start with fruits and veggies but more are coming. For this post, I walked through the product aisle and picked several favorite fruits and veggies to feature.
Fruits and Veggies
With fruits and veggies, low potassium is key if your doctor has mentioned you have high potassium, if you know you have Stage IV or V kidney disease, or if you’re on dialysis.
If you have Stage I-III CKD, potassium is not necessarily your enemy (unless your doctor has already told you your potassium is high) and while none of the fruits mentioned below will hurt you, you can definitely expand your fruit repertoire to include a larger variety. If you’re diabetic and counting carbohydrates, it is crucial to understand serving size. You can have more than 1 serving (I mean, really, most of us barely squeak by getting enough fruits and veggies), but remember for carb counting 1 serving= 15 gm carbs = 1 carb serving. I love this little diagram from the American Heart Association to remember portion sizes for fruits and vegetables. Click here for a great handout on acceptable low potassium foods.
Featured Low Potassium Fruits:
Again, this is not comprehensive. At the bottom of this post you will see a chart with the featured fruits and their potassium content.
Canned fruits we feature today include: canned pineapple, mandarin oranges, fruit cocktail, and tropical fruit blend. Most canned fruits are acceptable for people watching their potassium intake. One of the highest canned fruits in potassium on the market is the tropical fruit blend and it still roles in well beneath our goal of <200mg/serving (150mg per 1/2 cup). Always, always, always look for ones packed in juice, or in the very least, light syrup.
Dried fruits, which typically are super high in potassium (ex. dried apricots = mg 756 mg potassium for 1/2 cup – YIKES!) can fit nicely within the renal diet if you know which ones to pick. Dried fruits we feature today include dried apples and dried cranberries (yep…we know….it is a short list). We like dried fruits as they are useful to stash in your office desk, take on long trips, bake in your favorite muffins, toss in your favorite salad, or just when you need something less juicy then fresh or canned fruit to munch on during a long boring meeting. As a side note, some dried apple brands (namely Great Value at Walmart) do have unnecessary sodium in them (180mg/20 pieces). Look for a brand any added sodium to preserve them. A quick scan of Amazon showed me several brands without added sodium so you should be able to find one easily. Last, but definitely not least, and our favorite of all are the fresh fruits.
Fresh fruits we invited to our photo shoot today included a bosc pear, an apple, little mandarin oranges (or Halos or Cuties or whatever you want to call them), raspberries, pineapple, and grapes. There are A LOT more fresh fruits you can include (Click here for a Printable Low Potassium List ). Fresh fruits are wonderful finger foods for parties and we whipped up a tasty low phosphorus vanilla fruit dip for ours (Recipe here). Remember, fresh fruits have more nutrients than canned or dried because they have not been processed.
|Pineapple (1/2 c chunks)||90||11||1|
|Apple (1 med -3 ” diameter)||98||13||2|
|Blueberries (1/2 c)||57||11||2|
|Grapes (1/2c ~8-10grapes)||88||8||0|
|Mandarin Oranges (small)||63||5||1|
|Raspberries (1/2 c)||93||8||4|
|Strawberries (1/2 c)||110||6||2|
|Mandarin Oranges (1/2 c)||165.5||12||1|
|Tropical Fruit Mix (1/2 c)||75||0||1.65|
|Fruit Cocktail (1/2 c)||111.5||10||1.2|
|Pineapple, canned (1/2 c)||152||19.5||1|
|Apples (1/4 c)||67||10||1|
|Cranberries (1/4 c)||12||25||2|
Featured Low Potassium Veggies:
Ahhh, vegetables. Like them. Tolerate them. Maybe, even despise them. We should all learn to love them a little more. They are one of the most nutritious foods when fresh, steamed, or lightly boiled (not quite as nutritious when boiled to a mushy mess or fried to an oily crisp). Most veggies are low in carbs (great for diabetics), low in calories (great if you’re watching your weight) and very nutrient dense (great for everybody!). They are also naturally low in sodium and phosphorus. For the sake of snacking, fresh is best. We included in our pictures cucumber, jicama, and peppers. You enjoy other fresh vegetables such as: carrots (which I had in my fridge but forget to put in the photo), snow peas, and purple cabbage. I promise you on the cabbage – it is awesome to dip! Jicama is an unusual veggie, but worth a try. It is crisp, somewhat sweet, and refreshing. I like my plain without any dip and find it is far more satisfying then chips and just as crunchy. If you’re needing the convenience, there are single serve packs of carrots and peas in some produce marts that can make grabbing a healthy snack easy. At my house, we cut up our product ahead of time and put it in bags so we can grab it in a hurry.
For dipping, we made our veggie plate using the Mrs. Dash Ranch Dip. Honestly, I was initially very skeptical that a no sodium ranch dip could be worth my calories, but I have to tell you… this was good! I wish I could give the creators at Mrs. Dash a big hug for making this ranch dip. It is hard to find a ranch dip that is not loaded with sodium or MSG or just really terrible tasting. I give a full two thumbs-up to Mrs. Dash Ranch dip which really is good, flavorful, low in sodium, and preservative free. It can be hard to find in stores in some places so I just order it online through Amazon or other online grocers. (Mrs Dash Classic Ranch Prepared Dip (2 tbsp): 59 calories, 59 mg sodium, 19 mg phosphorus, and 20 mg potassium).
|1/2 c serving||Potassium||Carb||Fiber|
Not much we can say about the fruits and vegetables except that we always love them! If you’re not used to eating them, try for a few weeks to include one every day and soon you will notice that eating them actually feels good. You may even prefer them over heavier foods like meat. The nutrients in them are anti-inflammatory and hands down every study out there that has studied them have shown that diets high in fruits and vegetables are associated with decrease in disease.
AND, we love both dips. They are simple, but look and taste fantastic if you’re hosting a party and want to have a fresh fruit and veggie tray (these are more popular than you might think). Be the healthy hit at your next party and try bringing fruits and veggies. I promise you’ll see them disappear.