DEAR DR. BLONZ: My husband has only one kidney, working at 20 percent. To avoid dialysis, I work to keep all his food low-sodium and low-potassium. The sodium is easy; I changed from salt to cumin, coriander, cardamom, etc. Potassium is more difficult. There are about six vegetables he can have, and I work mainly with those.
That’s the background. Here is the question. The two lowest-potassium veggies are summer squash, in its green and yellow varieties. However, also on the “avoid” list are “nuts and seeds.” Emphasis here on SEEDS. Those squashes are about 50 percent seeds down their centers -- small seeds, soft seeds, but seeds nonetheless. So I lose about half of the veggie as I scoop out the seeds and discard them.
What do you think? The disabled kidney cannot handle seeds, and I want above all to save the kidney. Am I doing the right thing, or working too hard at it? -- H.K.
DEAR H.K.: Please accept my concern about your husband’s kidney issue, and my acknowledgment of his good fortune in having you as an advocate. I do not have the expertise to advise in specifics on this matter, but the National Kidney Foundation (kidney.org) has a “MyFoodCoach” tool designed for such issues. Find it by using the search bar on the organization’s website.
One final note: I encourage your vigilance in watching for indications in your husband that dialysis is becoming a necessary, lifesaving measure. See the resources at kidney.org/patients/peers/dialysis. I wish you both well.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: My question is about caffeine. Can it be diluted? If I drink a soda straight from the can, will it contain more caffeine than if I pour it over ice? Is there the same amount of caffeine in a 12-ounce cup of soda from a fountain as in a 12-ounce can? -- A.Q.
DEAR A.Q.: The two concepts involved are amount and concentration. Our sensation of taste relies on concentration, so a sip of saltwater from a container where one teaspoon of salt was dissolved in a cup of water will be perceived as saltier than a sip where a teaspoon of salt was dissolved in a quart of water. But if the entire cup or quart were consumed, the body would be receiving the same amount of salt -- and the 2,325 mg of sodium it contains. (Yep, that’s how much sodium is in a teaspoon of salt.)
Similar to sodium, the effect of caffeine is based on the dose, not the concentration. There will be comparable amounts of caffeine whether or not the drink was diluted with ice. (Soda fountains mix flavored syrups with a common supply of carbonated water. For the sake of comparison, it must be assumed that the concentration of ingredients and proportions in a fountain soda are similar to those found in the can.)
Send questions to: “On Nutrition,” Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to email@example.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.