Renal Diet: Foods Good for Kidney Health & Foods to Avoid with Kidney Disease
(Updated 17 April 2021)
Table of Contents
What is renal diet?
A renal diet is a kidney-friendly diet that helps prevent kidney disease from getting worse so you can stay healthier longer.
Why Diet Control is So Important for Kidney Disease | Dr Francisco Salcido-Ochoa
Our kidneys are important organs that perform many important functions, such as filtering waste products, removing toxins, balancing fluids in the body, and releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure.
There are a number of ways in which these vital organs can be damaged, the 2 main factors that increase the risk of kidney disease being diabetes and high blood pressure. Other risk factors for kidney disease includes genetics, smoking, and obesity.
When the kidneys are not functioning optimally, toxins and excess fluid build up in the blood, which may cause various health issues (such as muscle cramps, blood in the urine, shortness of breath, swollen feet (from water retention), erectile dysfunction, and more), and can even be fatal in the long run.
That is why people with kidney disease needs to follow a proper renal diet.
Kidney-friendly foods: So what can you eat on a renal diet?
Radish a peppery, crunchy vegetables that is a great source of vitamin C and low in phosphorus and potassium. This makes it a healthy addition to your renal diet.
The cabbage is another great food for renal diet as it is low in potassium and is a great source of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and folic acid.
It is also packed with phytochemicals, chemical compounds that fosters cardiovascular health, break up hazardous free radicals, and protect us against cancer.
Turnip contains vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, and manganese, a kidney-friendly alternative you can use to replace high potassium vegetables such as potatoes for your renal diet.
Onions, which are high in vitamin C, manganese, and B vitamins are an excellent alternative to add flavor and provide a sodium-free flavor for your renal diet. Onions also contain prebiotic fibers that keep your digestive system healthy.
Olive oil is a healthy, phosphorus-free source of fat, making it a great option for advanced chronic kidney disease patients who have trouble keeping a healthy weight.
The majority of fat in olive oil is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat with anti-inflammatory properties.
Blueberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that protect you against heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
They are a great addition to your renal diet, as they are low in phosphorus, sodium, and potassium.
Pineapple is a tasty and sweet alternative with low potassium to replace high potassium fruits such as bananas and oranges, thus making it suitable for those with kidneys disease.
It is also rich in vitamin C, fiber, maganese, and the bromelain enzyme that helps reduce inflammation.
Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are high in Omega-3 fats, which can help reduce fat levels in the blood and also lower your blood pressure (a risk factor for kidney disease).
Our body is not able to make Omega-3 fatty acids, thus having fatty fish in your diet is a good natural source for this valuable nutrient.
Many people find it hard to give up chicken (which contains sodium and phosphorus), but you can still opt for skinless chicken breast which contains less phosphorus, potassium, and sodium than skin-on chicken.
Just sure to choose fresh chicken and avoid roasted chicken that contains large amounts of sodium and phosphorus.
Foods bad for kidneys
For most people with chronic kidney disease (CKD), it’s critical to adopt a kidney-friendly renal diet that helps decrease the amount of waste products in the blood.
Depending on your stage of kidney disease, you need to restrict foods that contains the following nutrients:
Phosphorus is found in chicken, turkey, seafood, dairy, nuts, and food preservatives found in most fast foods, canned foods, and processed foods. Because damaged kidneys are not able to clear out excess phosphorus.
Learn from a DaVita dietitian about how to spot hidden phosphorus in food nutrition labels (video via DaVita Kidney Care)
Sodium is a major component of salt and is found in many foods such as salted or canned meat, fish or poultry (bacon, sausage, ham, sardines, anchovies, etc). Because kidneys that are not functioning optimally cannot remove excess sodium, and this will cause your blood level to rise.
Quick tip: Learn to read food labels to check the levels of sodium – look for words such as unsalted, low-sodium, sodium-free.
Very often, food packaging and marketing labels are designed to entice us to buy the product. They can be pretty misleading and may even exaggerate the health benefit of product. To get the truth on the nutritional benefit of the packaged foods we see and buy every day… we should always read the nutritional label on the back of the package, box or can. (video via Kelly the Nurse)
Potassium is found in bananas, oranges (or orange juice), raisins, potatoes, etc. Those with kidney disease need to limit the amounts of potassium in their diet to avoid high blood levels.
High potassium foods to avoid with kidney disease include salt substitutes and food seasonings. If you cook at home, avoid using flavored salts such as the popular garlic salt, onion salt or “seasoned” salt.
Fortunately, there are many healthy options are low in phosphorus, sodium, and potassium that you can include in your well-balanced renal diet.
Tanya, a renal dietitian at St. Paul’s Hospital explains the dangers of high potassium levels and some low-potassium food options to help ease the burden of dietary requirements for kidney patients (video via Kidney PLUGGED IN)
To help protect your kidneys, you also need to watch your protein intake. Because when your body uses protein , it produces waste products, which is then removed by your kidneys. This means if you eat more protein, your kidneys need to work harder, and this is a problem for those with kidney disease.
The optimal consumption of protein is not so straightforward for patients with chronic kidney disease because as it differs with each stage of the kidney disease. So be sure to consult your kidney doctor on this matter.
But your body still needs enough protein for enzyme and hormone production, immune function, and would healing. So the solution is to eat the right amount of protein based on your height, weight, and health conditions.
Protein can be found from both animals (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) and plants (nuts, grains, beans). Be sure to speak to your kidney doctor or dietitian to get the right combination of protein foods.
The bottom line: Consult your kidney doctor for a personalised renal diet
The kidney-friendly foods listed above are just some of many options for those with kidney problems who needs to follow a renal diet. Your diet restrictions may vary depending on the type and level of your kidney damage, so be sure to discuss your food choices with your kidney doctor who can help you personalise a well-balanced and kidney-friendly renal diet.
Click here to get in touch with Dr Francisco at Francisco Kidney & Medical Centre to discuss your personalised renal diet and learn more about how to keep your kidneys healthy and control your chronic kidney disease (CKD) with a proper renal diet, whether or not you’re already on dialysis.
Important information on chronic kidney disease
What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?
Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease
Stages of chronic kidney disease
Diagnosing chronic kidney disease
Treatments for chronic kidney disease
How can I prevent chronic kidney disease?
Kidney dialysis for chronic kidney disease patients
Looking for kidney-friendly recipes? Watch this video below by Nephrology AMG:
Kidney Friendly Recipes
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Transcript: Kidney-Friendly Recipes
So today we’re going to be making a three course meal. We’re going to start with a nice vegetables salad.
A lot of people when they have kidney disease are really scared of certain fruits and vegetables because they can be high in potassium.
But it’s still really important for your heart health to enjoy it. Lots of fruits and vegetables.
So today we’re going to be using the moderate to low potassium ones.
And we have romaine lettuce here so you can do either romaine lettuce or lighter. Any other lettuces that you can think of, Kim?
Iceberg lettuce is a good choice as well. Any of the other lettuces are fine.
Yeah, you just kind of want to avoid vegetables like spinach, the dark leafy greens, those tend to be higher in potassium.
So to our romaine lettuce, we’re gonna add we have red and green bell pepper here together. Nice sweet crunch and some cucumbers.
Alright, so we’re all set with that. And you can use a variety of any clear dressings. So you could do Italian or what’s your favorite dressing?
I like 1000 Island, actually.
Yeah, so you want to be careful with the creamy dressings. Or you could do balsamic vinegar. Those would be good choices.
Is there a specific as far as the sauce was concerned?
Yeah. So you just want to be careful with the creamy sauces, anything
Obviously, yeah, cuz anything creamy is gonna be higher in potassium.
And so sticking with the clear dressings and then you still want to watch your portions even though they’re clear like extra virgin olive oil is nice and healthy but can still be really high in calories.
So a general rule of thumb is a good portion control for how much dressing you want to add to your salad. So next, we can move on to the basil herb chicken.
Okay, so we’re gonna take a boneless skinless chicken breast. And a chicken breast generally is quite a bit of protein. So people with chronic kidney disease often are on a protein limit.
So the rule of thumb is you want to limit your protein to about a three ounce portion, which is about the size and thickness of a deck of cards it’s going to fit right into the palm of your hand.
So the other thing that we’re going to pay attention to with cooking chicken is watching how much sodium we’re adding. So we’re going to use a lot of herbs and spices and and just avoid the salt and any salt nice seasoning so we’re going to take a trans fat free margarine we’re going to mix in some parmesan cheese, some basil…
We’re going to put in some Italian seasoning.
What are they seasonings can we use?
Mrs. Dash has an herb blend, garlic powder, onion powder, you know sage, anything like that just just avoid things that have salt or sodium in the name.
Why is that important?
Excessive salt intake leads to extra fluid gain, water gain, elevated blood pressure and becomes more difficult to control. So absolutely limiting it to… would you say two grams sodium diet or 2000 milligrams for a whole day.
So if you’re breaking it down per meal, you want about 600 milligrams of sodium potassium per meal that’s very individualized based on you, your body size, your body’s needs. So people with different stages of kidney disease also need different dietary requirements.
Okay, so now we’re just going to take our seasoning to decide and we are going to just put it on a chicken and you can be liberal with the seasoning because it’s low sodium or sodium free can use a lot of herbs and spices to bring out the flavor of the food.
And some people will marinate and let it sit just to let that flavor infuse. So now we’re going to take her chicken that already looks amazing.
It looks delicious. And we are going to put this in the pan and we’re going to set it in our preheated oven.
And then we’re gonna let that bake.
Okay, so while the chicken is baking, we’re gonna go ahead and have Dr. Badar put together our creamy Alfredo and vegetable pasta. Great.
So we can go over here and see this baby. Yep. All right, and we want to be on medium high. And the first thing that we’ll do is add a tablespoon of coconut oil, you can use canola oil, extra virgin olive oil.
Any of those are considered heart healthy. Alright, Dr. Badar.
So we’re gonna add some onions, which is a half of the large onion. We’re gonna add our peppers, we’re using red peppers. You can use green or yellow. And then we have some green beans.
The whole bowl? The whole bowl it is…
And green beans can be fresh or frozen, whichever you prefer. And these are actually frozen. So all the hard work is done for me, they’re washed, they’re cut, they’re clean, they’re ready to go. And they’re just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. So I can give that a stir. Okay. And then to that we can add some seasonings. What’s your favorite seasoning? Dr. Badar.
I had garlic to everything.
How much is it in there,
So it’s a quarter teaspoon. Can you can measure it, today we’re just gonna kind of eyeball it. Pepper. Okay, and how much do we do that?
And again, we have the Italian seasonings or you can use Mrs. Dash or if you have an herb garden, you can go out there and grab the basil. Whatever sounds good. You can do either fresh or dry.
Okay, and that’s gonna cook for about three minutes. And while we’re cooking that we’re gonna go ahead and put together a berry spritzer.
You can really take any kind of fruit. You can take mint, you can take basil, you can use cucumber, you’re just going to take your fresh berries here and cut them up and add some ice cubes to the cup.
And why not just have like a soda with dinner.
Well generally sodas are very high in sugar and unnecessary calories. So for somebody who for example is diabetic, controlling the blood sugars is very important with protecting kidney health, we generally want to promote water or sugar free beverages.
And this is just a really nice tasty way to drink your water. Take some mint and just cut it up also and put it in this cup. And then we’re going to add our seltzer water. So you can use regular water, you can use sparkling water, but you just want to make sure that you’re using something that’s calorie free. Okay, so you don’t mind Thank you very much. Fill ‘er up please. And it looks delicious. It does look amazing. So there it is. And you can let it kind of sit and infuse your water. It’s like I said it’s very delicious. And you can really experiment with this. Apples, any kind of citrus, basil, just different herbs. A lot of people have some great recipes for spa water (detox water) online.
So what if we wanted it a little bit sweeter? What if the berries are out a season, then you can add an artificial sweetener. So something like Splenda or Stevia would be appropriate would kind of bring out a little bit of the sweetness and the flavor of the berries, but not add all those sugar calories.
All right, wonderful. So back over here to the stove. Alright, so since those are cooked, we’re ready to turn to this into our little Alfredo dish.
So we’re gonna add low fat cream cheese…
The whole piece? The whole thing so it’s about a half cut. And then along with that instead of milk, we’re gonna add rice milk. And this is actually lower in potassium and phosphorus. So if it’s very kidney healthy.
I will let it kind of melt down and stirred every few minutes. So now that the pasta is getting nice and creamy here we’re ready to add our pasta that we made according to the box directions. So you’ve pre-cooked it so it’s ready to go. Right back over there. Do you want to give that a stir and mix that all up together? Okay. So go ahead and prepare our salad. I think the chicken should be done soon.
So here we go. So well, that came out great. Absolutely.
You can just add that as a little garnish there.
All right, and Dr. Badar let’s plate some pasta here. All right, no one goes hungry in our house.
This looks amazing. Now for our patients out there that are watching where can they find more of these delicious recipes?
Yeah, that’s a great question. You always want to make sure when you’re online, you’re going to reputable websites. So you can find more kidney friendly recipes on the NAMG website. You can find them on the National Kidney Foundation website. And you don’t have to have a membership. They’re all free, easy and great access for you whether you’re on dialysis or before you’re on dialysis. So all these things will help your kidneys go for as long as possible.
All right, folks. Well, thanks for joining us and we hope you try some of these delicious recipes. We look forward to helping you meet your health and nutrition goals.