Who doesn’t love a steamy bowl of soup? It is a hug in a bowl! But, it soup ok for people with kidney disease? Never fear! Soup can be a wonderful option for people with kidney disease. For some, it is important to find low potassium soups.
Slurp! Let’s dive into everything soup and kidney disease.
Table of Contents
What Is Potassium?
Firstly, what is potassium anyway? Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions.
Here are some important functions of potassium in our bodies:
- Fluid balance: Potassium helps maintain the balance of fluids in the body. This balance is essential for proper hydration, nerve function, and muscle contractions.
- Nervous system function: Potassium helps transmit electrical impulses, facilitating nerve conduction, and maintain electrical activity of the brain. Adequate potassium levels are necessary for maintaining normal brain function and cognitive abilities.
- Muscle function: Potassium is crucial for muscle contractions, including the contraction of skeletal muscles and the smooth muscles found in organs. It helps regulate the electrical impulses that stimulate muscle contractions and supports muscle strength and coordination.
- Heart health: Potassium is particularly important for maintaining a healthy heart. It helps regulate the heartbeat and supports the proper electrical functioning of the heart muscle.
- Bone health: Some studies suggest that potassium may play a role in promoting bone health. It helps in neutralizing acid in the body, which can help prevent the loss of calcium from bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Blood pressure regulation: Potassium has a role in balancing the effects of sodium in the body. A diet rich in potassium and low in sodium can help lower blood pressure. Adequate potassium intake is associated with a reduced risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).
Potassium & Kidney Disease
Our kidneys are responsible for getting rid of extra potassium. Healthy kidneys are very good at excreting potassium to keep blood potassium levels at a healthy level.
With kidney disease, kidneys are not able to get rid of potassium as well for some people. This can cause blood potassium levels to increase, which can be dangerous.
If you have kidney disease, it is important to work with your dietitian to see how much potassium is best for you. For many people with kidney disease, a high potassium diet is best to help regulate blood pressure.
We only want to restrict dietary potassium if it is absolutely necessary. It is important to look at possible other causes of high potassium such as acidosis, constipation and high blood sugar.
Ask your dietitian what is best for you!
How Much Potassium Do We Need?
The recommended intake of potassium for for healthy adults is 4,700mg per day. This is A LOT more potassium than most of us are eating!
If you have kidney disease or high blood potassium levels, you might need to limit how much potassium you eat. Ask your dietitian what is best for you.
Who Should Look For Low Potassium Soups?
If you need a low potassium diet, it is best to look for low potassium soups. Remember that most people with kidney disease do not need to limit potassium.
Soup can be a surprisingly high source of potassium in our diet.
Worst High Potassium Soups to Avoid
It might surprise you, but the soups highest in potassium are commercially made low sodium soups!
When a soup is labeled “low sodium”, potassium chloride is often used as a salt substitute. Potassium chloride is incredibly high in potassium. Plus, much more of potassium from potassium chloride is absorbed compared to potassium from fruits and vegetables.
For example, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup has 60mg of potassium (and 890mg sodium!) per 1/2 cup condensed soup. Their Healthy Request® Chicken Noodle Soup has 580mg of potassium due to potassium salt in the ingredients. Of note it still has 410mg sodium! Both of these products also have phosphorus additives in them!
These potassium-containing salt substitutes are, by far, the most concerning potassium in soup. These add a TON more potassium than any fruit or vegetable ever will!
Learn more about the best salt substitutes for kidney disease!
Other High Potassium Soup Ingredients to Look Out For
Lots of Tomato
Tomatoes are notoriously high in potassium. A little tomato in soup probably isn’t going to put it over the top, like in Minestrone soup.
But, if the soup base is made with tomato, like tomato soup, this will be a much higher potassium soup option.
Lots of Potato
Potatoes are another notorious high potassium food. If a soup has a lot of potato in it, it will be higher in potassium.
Remember that “chowder” is soup-talk for potato. Corn or clam chowder have a lot of potato in them!
Lots of Butternut Squash
Winter squash like butternut tend to be on the higher potassium side. If soup is made with butternut squash as the main ingredient (lookin’ at you Creamy Butternut Squash soup!), it will be pretty high in potassium.
Ham or Bacon
Ham, bacon and other processed meats, tend to be higher in potassium due to potassium additives. Again, these potassium additives are much more concerning than potassium in fruits and vegetables any day!
Of course, processed meats also tend to be full of sodium.
As always, it is important to consider amount. If soup is made with 2-3 slices of bacon for the entire pot, this likely will not add too much potassium or sodium!
Beyond Low Potassium Soup: Sodium
Of course, it is crucial to consider sodium in soup for people with kidney disease. Soup is a notorious sodium bomb!
Canned soup or soup from a restaurant or pre-made at the grocery store tends to be the highest in sodium. For example, 1 cup of Panera Bread Broccoli Cheddar soup has 990mg of sodium. This is 43% of our daily goal of sodium!
To keep sodium low for a kidney friendly soup, it is best to make soup at home. Use low-sodium or no salt added broth. Or, make your own broth at home!
Homemade low sodium soup should NOT be bland. Make sure to add a TON of flavor with extra spices and herbs. I tend to double the amount of spice a recipe calls for. My other favorite trick is to drizzle some flavored vinegar, lemon or lime juice over soup after cooking. This adds a ton of flavor and really elevates your soup!
Best Low Potassium Soup Ingredients
Here are common ingredients to use to build your own low potassium soup!
- Low or no sodium broth
- Green Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Lemon and lime
- Bell peppers
- Fresh herbs
- Olive oil
10 Best Low Potassium Soups
Lets get to it. What are my 10 best low sodium soup recommendations? Here you go!
Note: For each recipe below, limit added salt and use low sodium canned ingredients to keep the sodium low for kidney health!
Vegetable soup tends to be made with mostly lower potassium vegetables like onion, carrot, green beans, peas and zucchini. I love this Vegetable Soup recipe. Leave out the potatoes if you want an even lower potassium soup!
A classic minestrone soup is just the best! Full of veggies, beans and my personal fav ingredient, pasta!
This Minestrone Soup recipe is great because it gives you options for vegetables. Use kale or collard greens in place of spinach. You can swap low-sodium canned garbanzo beans for the Great Northerns beans as well.
Remember, canned beans tend to be lower in potassium than those cooked from dried at home! Look for low sodium or no salt added cans.
Chicken Noodle Soup
A classic and naturally low potassium! Fresh chicken, noodles, onion, carrot and celery are all on the lower potassium side.
I like this recipe because it has extra veggies in it and a burst of flavor with fresh parsley.
Pssst! If you’ve never tried squeezing a lemon or lime wedge on chicken noodle soup right before you eat eat – DO IT!
Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Transitional split pea soup has ham in it. To keep this a low potassium soup and keep salt in check, look for vegetarian split pea soup recipes.
Personally, I think lentils are best consumed in soup! Lentils are a wonderful lower potassium plant protein for kidney disease.
This traditional lentil soup is made without tomatoes, bacon or other higher potassium ingredients! But, it is still packed full of veggies and fiber goodness!
Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup
I don’t care how they are served to me – mushrooms will always be one of my favorites. Add them to a bowl of steamy soup on a snowy day, and I am in heaven!
This Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup is full of herby mushroom goodness!
Greek Egg Lemon Soup
It is really hard for me to pick a favorite soup (as you could probably tell by now!). But if I had to, Greek Egg Lemon Soup would be in the running.
Also known as Avgolemono, Egg Lemon Soup is a bowl of creamy, lemony, dill heaven! Try this soup today!
Soup with cabbage might elicit images of Charlie from the beginning of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But, I promise! Cabbage soup really can be delicious!
Cabbage is very low in potassium. So it is a great base for a low potassium soup!
The key to tasty cabbage soup is ADD FLAVOR. Well, that is really the key to any tasty soup! This cabbage soup recipe has coriander, fennel, cumin and onion to make it yummy!
Chicken & Rice Soup
Somehow, chicken and rice soup feels COMPLETELY different than chicken noodle soup.
But, the premise is the same! Chicken and rice soup is another wonderful low potassium soup option!
Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Who knew you could make a delectable CREAMY soup using cauliflower without cream!?
Roasting any vegetable adds depth to the flavor. Puree that into a soup and you are good to go!
More Tips for a Low Potassium Diet
If you need a low potassium diet for kidney disease (remember, not everyone does!), check out my other low potassium articles:
- Top 10 Low Potassium Cereals for Kidney Disease
- How Much Potassium in Corn?
- Potassium in Pizza
- Low Potassium Ice Cream
- The Best Low Potassium Dessert Ideas
- Potatoes & Kidney Disease: The Potassium Dilemma
A healthy diet for kidney disease is different for every single person. Learn more about what a kidney diet should be for you!