Sunday, September 18, 2011

Leeching of vegetables - a great way to reduce your Potassium intake

People lucky enough to be on dialysis must watch their Potassium intake. Just imagine. Life becomes so interesting with these kinds of rules, right? And it can be an edge-of -the-seat thriller if you go above the normal limit of Potassium in the blood. You can become breathless, your heartbeat can become irregular and in extreme cases you may also no longer need to do dialysis! (Yes that was a mean joke, forgive me for this bad attempt at humor on a Sunday morning!)

So, what must we do to limit our Potassium intake. First of all, the simple stuff - don't touch bananas (raw and ripe), chikoo, mangoes and such similar high Potassium fruit. Don't even look at coconuts - they have that much Potassium that it can actually travel over air into your system (hehehe!). Most fruits are high potassium. So, while we may be able to have a little low-potassium fruit (half an apple, a small pear, a small guava, a slice of papaya etc.) - you should check with your doctor or dietician about this - provided we are getting regular, thrice a week (at least) dialysis, we should never binge on fruit.

Most vegetables also have moderate to high potassium in them. However, there is a great way to remove most of the potassium from vegetables without actually impacting their taste. It is called leeching. Now, how many times have you heard that you can actually do something like that - get rid of most of the bad stuff (potassium) while retaining the good stuff (taste)? Not very often since you first saw that high creatinine report, huh? Same here!

So, basically, you dice the vegetables into small pieces. Wash thoroughly under water. Take enough water in a bowl and put the vegetables into it. Boil for about 15-20 minutes. Discard the water. Now you can use the vegetables as you would normally. Most of the Potassium is leeched out of the vegetables. In most of the vegetables, the taste is retained almost wholly.

This technique will not work for vegetables like bhindi, brinjal and some other vegetables but it works wonderfully well for things like beans, cauliflower, cabbage, ridge gourd (toora), bottle gourd (lauki) and most other vegetables.

Yes, it is an additional hassle for the cook! But I would say it is worth it. All the extra potassium is really not good. So, if there is a way to remove it without losing the taste, why not?

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