When it comes to the matter of Best Food For Kidneys, it has to be something that can help with getting rid of the excess toxins in the body that would otherwise be deposited and stored in the kidneys. The foods to eat with kidney disease have been designed to limit your level of exposure to potassium. The potassium level in the bloodstream is a major determining factor in whether you will develop renal failure or not.
Most of us are well informed about the health effects of eating junk food and the importance of eating healthy. We understand when we consume fast foods, sweets, and other snacks that it can make us fat, develop diabetes type 2 and even kidney diseases.
Best Food For Kidneys
The kidneys are small organs in the lower abdomen that play a significant role in the overall health of the body. Some foods may boost the performance of the kidneys, while others may place stress on them and cause damage.
Following a kidney-healthy diet plan may help the kidneys function properly and prevent damage to these organs. However, although some foods generally help support a healthy kidney, not all of them are suitable for people who have kidney disease.
Water is the most important drink for the body. The cells use water to transport toxins into the bloodstream.
The kidneys then use water to filter these toxins out and to create the urine that transports them out of the body.
A person can support these functions by drinking whenever they feel thirsty.
Salmon, tuna, and other cold-water, fatty fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids can make a beneficial addition to any diet.
The body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, which means that they have to come from the diet. Fatty fish are a great natural source of these healthful fats.
As the National Kidney Foundation note, omega-3 fats may reduce fat levels in the blood and also slightly lower blood pressure. As high blood pressure is a risk factor for kidney disease, finding natural ways to lower it may help protect the kidneys.
Sweet potatoes are similar to white potatoes, but their excess fiber may cause them to break down more slowly, resulting in less of a spike in insulin levels. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, that may help balance the levels of sodium in the body and reduce its effect on the kidneys.
However, as sweet potato is a high-potassium food, anyone who has CKD or is on dialysis may wish to limit their intake of this vegetable.
Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and chard, are dietary staples that contain a wide variety of vitamins, fibers, and minerals. Many also contain protective compounds, such as antioxidants.
However, these foods also tend to be high in potassium, so they may not be suitable for people on a restricted diet or those on dialysis.
Dark berries, which include strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are a great source of many helpful nutrients and antioxidant compounds. These may help protect the cells in the body from damage.
Berries are likely to be a better option than other sugary foods for satisfying a sweet craving.
An apple is a healthful snack that contains an important fiber called pectin. Pectin may help reduce some risk factors for kidney damage, such as high blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Apples can also often satisfy a sweet tooth.
Foods to eat with kidney disease
Researchers are discovering more and more links between chronic diseases, inflammation and “super foods” that may prevent or protect against undesirable fatty acid oxidation, a condition that occurs when the oxygen in your body reacts with fats in your blood and your cells. Oxidation is a normal process for energy production and many chemical reactions in the body, but excessive oxidation of fats and cholesterol creates molecules known as free radicals that can damage your proteins, cell membranes and genes. Heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other chronic and degenerative conditions have been linked to oxidative damage.
However, foods that contain antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals and protect the body. Many of the foods that protect against oxidation are included in the kidney diet and make excellent choices for dialysis patients or people with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Want to learn more about the kidney diet? Download our free kidney-friendly cookbooks filled with kidney diet tips and recipes.
Making certain lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy foods, working with a renal dietitian and following a renal diet made up of kidney-friendly foods is important for people with kidney disease because they experience more inflammation and have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
1. Red bell peppers
- 1/2 cup serving red bell pepper = 1 mg sodium, 88 mg potassium, 10 mg phosphorus
Red bell peppers are low in potassium and high in flavor, but that’s not the only reason they’re perfect for the kidney diet. These tasty vegetables are also an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as vitamin B6, folic acid and fiber. Red bell peppers are good for you because they contain lycopene, an antioxidant that protects against certain cancers.
Eat red bell peppers raw with dip as a snack or appetizer, or mix them into tuna or chicken salad. You can also roast peppers and use them as a topping on sandwiches or lettuce salads, chop them for an omelet, add them to kabobs on the grill or stuff peppers with ground turkey or beef and bake them for a main dish.
- 1/2 cup serving green cabbage = 6 mg sodium, 60 mg potassium, 9 mg phosphorus
A cruciferous vegetable, cabbage is packed full of phytochemicals, chemical compounds in fruit or vegetables that break up free radicals before they can do damage. Many phytochemicals are also known to protect against and fight cancer, as well as foster cardiovascular health.
High in vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber, cabbage is also a good source of vitamin B6 and folic acid. Low in potassium and low in cost, it’s an affordable addition to the kidney diet.
Raw cabbage makes a great addition to the dialysis diet as coleslaw or topping for fish tacos. You can steam, microwave or boil it, add butter or cream cheese plus pepper or caraway seeds and serve it as a side dish. Cabbage Rolls Made with Turkey are a great appetizer, and if you’re feeling fancy, you can stuff a cabbage with ground meat and bake it for a flavorful meal bursting with nutrients.
- 1/2 cup serving boiled cauliflower = 9 mg sodium, 88 mg potassium, 20 mg phosphorus
Another cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is high in vitamin C and a good source of folate and fiber. It’s also packed full of indoles, glucosinolates and thiocyanates—compounds that help the liver neutralize toxic substances that could damage cell membranes and DNA.
Serve it raw as crudités with dip, add it to a salad, or steam or boil it and season with spices such as turmeric, curry powder, pepper and herb seasonings. You can also make a nondairy white sauce, pour it over the cauliflower and bake until tender. You can pair cauliflower with pasta or even mash cauliflower as a dialysis diet replacement for mashed potatoes.
- 1 clove garlic = 1 mg sodium, 12 mg potassium, 4 mg phosphorus
Garlic helps prevent plaque from forming on your teeth, lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation.
Buy it fresh, bottled, minced or powdered, and add it to meat, vegetable or pasta dishes. You can also roast a head of garlic and spread on bread. Garlic provides a delicious flavor and garlic powder is a great substitute for garlic salt in the dialysis diet.
- 1/2 cup serving onion = 3 mg sodium, 116 mg potassium, 3 mg phosphorus
Onion, a member of the Allium family and a basic flavoring in many cooked dishes, contains sulfur compounds which give it its pungent smell. But in addition to making some people cry, onions are also rich in flavonoids, especially quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that works to reduce heart disease and protects against many cancers. Onions are low in potassium and a good source of chromium, a mineral that helps with carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism.
Try using a variety of onions including white, brown, red and others. Eat onions raw on burgers, sandwiches and in salads, cook them and use as a caramelized topping or fry them into onion rings. Include onions in recipes such as Italian Beef with Peppers and Onions.
- 1 medium apple with skin = 0 sodium, 158 mg potassium, 10 mg phosphorus
Apples have been known to reduce cholesterol, prevent constipation, protect against heart disease and reduce the risk of cancer. High in fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds, an apple a day may really keep the doctor away. Good news for people with kidney disease who already have their share of doctor visits.
This kidney diet winner can be paired with the previous good-for-you food, onions, to make a unique Apple Onion Omelet. With versatile apples you can eat them raw, make baked apples, stew apples, make them into apple sauce, or drink them as apple juice or apple cider.
- 1/2 cup serving cranberry juice cocktail = 3 mg sodium, 22 mg potassium, 3 mg phosphorus
- 1/4 cup serving cranberry sauce = 35 mg sodium, 17 mg potassium, 6 mg phosphorus
- 1/2 cup serving dried cranberries = 2 mg sodium, 24 mg potassium and 5 mg phosphorus
These tangy, tasty berries are known to protect against bladder infections by preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. In a similar way, cranberries also protect the stomach from ulcer-causing bacteria and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, promoting GI health. Cranberries have also been shown to protect against cancer and heart disease.
Cranberry juice and cranberry sauce are the most frequently consumed cranberry products. You can also add dried cranberries to salads or have them as a snack.
- 1/2 cup serving fresh blueberries = 4 mg sodium, 65 mg potassium, 7 mg phosphorus
Blueberries are high in antioxidant phytonutrients called anthocyanidins, which give them their blue color, and they are bursting with natural compounds that reduce inflammation. Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C; manganese, a compound that keeps your bones healthy; and fiber. They may also help protect the brain from some of the effects of aging. Antioxidants in blueberries and other berries have been shown to help slow bone breakdown in rats made to be low in estrogen.
Buy blueberries fresh, frozen or dried, and try them in cereal or , topped with whipped topping, in a fruit smoothie. You can also drink blueberry juice.
- 1/2 cup serving raspberries = 0 mg sodium, 93 mg potassium, 7 mg phosphorus
Raspberries contain a phytonutrient called ellagic acid which helps neutralize free radicals in the body to prevent cell damage. They also contain flavonoids called anthocyanins, antioxidants which give them their red color. An excellent source of manganese, vitamin C, fiber and folate, a B vitamin, raspberries may have properties that inhibit cancer cell growth and tumor formation.
Add raspberries to cereal, or puree and sweeten them to make a dessert sauce or add them to vinaigrette dressing.
Your kidneys have the important job of filtering your blood – they’re located on either side of your spine below your ribs and behind your belly. You have two of them, each roughly the size of a large fist, about four-or-five inches long.
Diet plays a big part in keeping your kidneys working properly. First, let’s explore the tough jobs your kidneys perform, what can go wrong, and then how to eat and keep them healthy.
WHAT YOUR KIDNEYS DO
Per the National Kidney Foundation, your kidneys remove wastes, control the body’s fluid balance, and keep the right levels of electrolytes. All of the blood in your body passes through them several times a day. They:
- Help remove waste and excess fluid
- Filter the blood
- Control the production of red blood cells
- Make vitamins that control growth
- Release hormones that aid in regulating blood pressure
- Help regulate red blood cells as well as the amount of certain nutrients in the body, such as calcium and potassium.
HOW YOUR KIDNEYS WORK
How do the kidneys perform these important jobs?
- Blood enters your kidneys through an artery from the heart
- The blood is cleaned by passing through millions of tiny blood filters called nephrons
- Waste material passes through the ureter duct and is stored in the bladder as urine
- Newly cleaned blood returns to the bloodstream through your veins
- Your bladder becomes full and urine passes out of the body through the urethra.
The kidneys filter and return to the bloodstream about 200 quarts of fluid every 24 hours. Of that, about two quarts are eliminated from your body as urine, while the remainder, is retained in the body.
THINGS YOU DO EVERY DAY CAN HARM YOUR KIDNEYS
There are many ways to damage your kidneys on your own, including:
- Overusing painkillers, including aspirin and ibuprofen.
- Using too much salt
- Not drinking enough water
- Not sleeping enough
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Sitting for long periods of time
- Eating too much meat
- Eating too much sugar
- Eating processed foods
You’ll notice that three of these have to do with diet. What you eat plays an important part in maintaining kidney health and avoiding kidney disease.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOODS FOR OPTIMUM KIDNEY HEALTH
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet is recommended by the National Kidney Foundation, and is approved by The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, The American Heart Association, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Studies demonstrate that the DASH diet helps decrease blood pressure, lowers the risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer, and reduces the risk of kidney stone formation, and kidney stones are no fun.
You’ll find that the DASH Diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts, while being low in salt and sodium, added sugars and sweets, fat and red meats.
If you already have kidney disease, consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
7 SUPERFOODS FOR YOUR KIDNEYS
There’s no scientific definition of the term “superfood,” but they are considered by nutritionists and others to be foods that have unusually high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins or other nutrients.
These kidney-friendly foods also make a big contribution to overall health:
- Apples: Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that can lower cholesterol and glucose levels. Be sure to eat the peel – it’s a significant source of antioxidants, including one called quercetin, which is thought to protect brain cells.
- Blueberries: They’re a low-calorie source of fiber and vitamin C, and ranked #1 among fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables in antioxidant power. And, they’re being studied for their potential to protect against cancer and heart disease was well as for their possible brain health benefits.
- Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have many important functions, including controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain. They’ve also been shown to decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats as well as triglyceride levels. Salmon mackerel, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines are all a good source of Omega-3.
- Strawberries: Strawberries are a fantastic source of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. They’ve been associated with heart protection, and have anti-cancer and anti-inflammation properties.
The following foods are fantastic, but should be limited if you are on dialysis or have a dietary potassium restriction:
- Spinach: Spinach is high in vitamins A, C, K and folate, and the beta-carotene found in spinach is important for boosting your immune system health and protecting your vision. It is also a good source of magnesium.
- Sweet Potatoes: These are packed with beta-carotene and are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, vitamin B-6 and potassium. One medium sweet potato contains nearly 4 grams of fiber, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database.
- Kale: This green is packed with Vitamins A, C, K, calcium and lots of other important minerals. It’s also a great source of carotenoids and flavonoids, which may have eye and anti-cancer benefits. Because kale contains significant sources of Vitamin K, if you are taking blood thinners, talk to your doctor.
Importance Of Eating Healthy
A nutritious, well-balanced diet – along with physical activity and refraining from smoking – is the foundation of good health. Healthy eating includes consuming high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and water in the foods you take in while minimizing processed foods, saturated fats and alcohol. Eating in this manner helps you maintain your body’s everyday functions, promotes optimal body weight and can assist in disease prevention.
The nutrients in the foods you eat support the activities of day-to-day living, protect your cells from environmental damage and repair any cellular damage that might occur. Protein rebuilds injured tissue and promotes a healthy immune system. Both carbohydrates and fats fuel your body, while vitamins and minerals function throughout your body in support of your body’s processes. Vitamins A, C and E, for example, act as antioxidants to protect your cells against toxins, and B vitamins help you extract energy from the foods you eat. Calcium and phosphorus keep your bones strong, while sodium and potassium help to transmit nerve signals. Without a healthy diet, you might compromise any of these essential functions.
In addition to the quality of the foods you consume, the quantity matters when considering good eating habits. Taking in the same number of calories as you burn ensures your weight remains steady over time. Consuming more than you burn, on the other hand, results in weight gain as your body converts extra calories to fat tissue. When you accumulate fat tissue, you increase your risk of developing one or more health problems, including heart disease, hypertension, respiratory issues, diabetes and cancer. A healthy meal plan without excess calories helps you not only feel better but can prolong your life.
Obesity is not the only nutrition-related cause of disease onset and progression. Too much or too little of certain nutrients can also contribute to health issues. For instance, a lack of calcium in your diet can predispose you to developing osteoporosis, or weakening of your bones, while too much saturated fat can cause cardiovascular disease, and too few fruits and vegetables in your nutrition plan is associated with an increased incidence of cancer. Consuming foods from a wide variety of sources helps ensure your body has the nutrients it needs to avoid these health problems.
If you are not used to eating a healthy diet that promotes your well-being, making gradual changes can help you improve the way you eat in the long run. You can substitute water for high-calorie, sugary drinks, for example, and switch from full-fat to low-fat dairy products. Selecting lean meats instead of fatty cuts and whole-wheat grains instead of refined grains can lower your intake of unhealthy fats and increase your dietary fiber intake. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain less sodium than canned, and snacking on fresh, crunchy produce like carrots, apples and cucumber slices is healthier than the fats and salt in chips.