Trying to find safe foods to eat that are good for your kidneys can feel like navigating a minefield. You don’t have the luxury of eating whatever you want, but does this mean there’s nothing left for you to enjoy?
Some foods might be off the table, but you can still eat plenty of filling and delicious meals that also support good kidney health.
You just have to know which foods are safe and which you should avoid.
You might not be able to cure your chronic kidney disease by eating these foods, but they can be a huge help in keeping disruptive and uncomfortable symptoms at bay. Here’s a quick rundown of the best foods to start incorporating into your diet.
Nutrition and Chronic Kidney Disease Treatment
Good nutrition is critical for managing any kind of health issue. It’s doubly important when you have chronic kidney disease because there are many foods your body has a harder time processing.
Unfortunately, options like whole grains and fish should be avoided whenever possible, but you can replace them with other foods that provide important vitamins and minerals without being so difficult for your kidneys to process.
Minimize the number of foods that can harm your kidneys in your diet, and stick to kidney superfoods to support your overall well-being.
The Renal Diet
The renal diet is specially designed to be easy on your kidneys. It’s characterized by avoiding foods with high amounts of phosphorus, sodium, and potassium, which can be harder for your body to process when you have kidney disease.
While there are many foods to avoid on the renal diet, there’s plenty to enjoy too. Like other diets geared toward people with arthritis or diabetes, changing up what you eat can be incredibly beneficial for your health.
Best Foods for Chronic Kidney Disease
Support your kidneys and eliminate some of the symptoms that come with chronic kidney disease by introducing these foods into your diet.
Egg yolks contain a lot of phosphorus, but the whites are perfectly fine to eat. They’re a good source of kidney-friendly protein, especially if you’re on dialysis and trying to limit high-phosphorus fish and high-sodium cured meats.
Looking for a seasoning to replace salt? Go with garlic! It’s got plenty of flavor and includes many vitamins and minerals, all without increasing your sodium intake.
While you don’t want to go overboard on fat, healthy fats like olive oil are a great addition to your diet. Olive oil is free of phosphorus and has anti-inflammatory benefits when consumed in moderate amounts.
Onions are another great way to add flavor to your food without using salt. You can saute them in olive oil with some garlic and improve just about any food, all without harming your kidneys.
Onions also contain manganese, vitamin B, and vitamin C, and they support good gut health.
Certain greens like kale and spinach are off-limits on a renal diet due to their high potassium content. Swap them out for cabbage, which contains insoluble fiber and vitamins B, C, and K.
Just avoid sauerkraut and other pickled cabbage dishes as they contain too much sodium.
Fresh, Skinless Chicken
Much of the sodium, potassium, and phosphorus that makes chicken difficult for your kidneys is contained in the skin. You can still use chicken as a source of high-quality protein if you buy skinless chicken breasts and avoid premade meals.
If you’re missing tropical fruit because you’ve been avoiding high-potassium bananas and kiwis, try pineapple instead. Pineapple is naturally sweet, and it can also reduce inflammation thanks to its high bromelain content.
Mushrooms, especially shiitake mushrooms, are an excellent alternative to meat if you’re avoiding eating too much protein. Add them to a stir-fry, make mushroom soup, or just enjoy them sauteed as a side dish.
If you’re really craving fish, go for the option that’s lowest in phosphorus. Sea bass contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids with a fraction of the phosphorus found in other types of seafood. Still, you should watch your portion size to be safe.
Whole Wheat Alternatives
Whole grains should be avoided on a renal diet due to their high phosphorus content, but there are plenty of replacements.
Try buckwheat, which is a gluten-free grain with vitamin B and iron, or bulgur, which also contains manganese. Both are good sources of high-quality plant protein too.
Diet alone isn’t enough to keep symptoms of kidney disease at bay, but it can be a huge help in alleviating pain and keeping yourself fit. In the renal diet, you may even discover a new favorite food.