The Best Foods For Kidney Health

Foods For Kidney Health

Maintaining healthy kidneys is crucial for overall health. The kidneys play a crucial role in filtering waste products and excess fluids from the blood, regulating blood pressure, and maintaining the balance of electrolytes in the body. But certain foods can help support kidney function. You’ve probably heard the saying “you are what you eat”. And basically what this means is that the foods we choose to nourish our bodies help with our health both physically and mentally, but also provides us with the energy we need to complete all of our daily tasks. So, in this blog post, we will discuss some of the best foods for kidney health.

Berries

Berries are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help protect the kidneys from damage. Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are all great choices. Some of my favourite ways to enjoy these are at breakfast in a smoothie or on top of chia seed pudding. But berries are also great as a snack or dessert.

Fish

This is probably a debated topic with CKD. Should you include fish or not. While fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of kidney disease, they are still an animal protein. Some living with CKD choose to include small amounts of animal protein occasionally, and fish can be a great option. For some more tips and tricks on fish and CKD check out this post. But don’t get me wrong, we can reduce our cholesterol and inflammation in other ways, so if you choose to avoid animal products that is perfect too.

Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens like kale and collard greens are rich in vitamins and minerals that can help support kidney function and bone health. They are also low in potassium, making them a great choice for people with kidney disease. For example: ½ cup of raw kale has 174 mg potassium and ½ cup raw collard greens has 41 mg potassium. Incorporating leafy greens can be nutritious foods for kidney health.

Garlic

Garlic has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help protect the kidneys. It is also great for boosting the immune system. Garlic can be used with CKD to help flavour foods as it is also a low sodium option. Choose food sources of garlic instead of supplements with CKD.

Sweet Potatoes

Talking about foods for kidney health we should discuss a favourite potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. They are lower in glycemic index compared to white potatoes. So it can make controlling blood sugars a bit easier. While these are still a high potassium food, if you are looking to reduce the potassium content, check out these tips and tricks from the Kidney Foundation.

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for the absorption of non-heme iron from our plant-based sources like legumes, tofu, nuts, spinach. Check out this post for tips and tricks to manage anemia with CKD.

Whole Grains

Whole grains like brown rice, barley, and whole wheat pasta are rich in fiber and other nutrients that can help support kidney health. These foods are often one of the first things those with CKD read online and think they need to avoid. But whole grains have so many health benefits including managing constipation, blood sugar and cholesterol. And you can include these with CKD.

Legumes, Beans and Pulses

Foods like chickpeas, lentils and beans are great plant-based proteins that the kidneys love. These are lower in acid load and easier for the kidneys to filter so they can help to preserve kidney function. Using dried or canned (no added salt) are a great addition to any meal. Try adding chickpeas or lentils to your tomato sauce instead of ground meat, or make a mashed chickpea salad sandwich.

Apples

Apples are a great source of fiber with 2.8 g in a small apple with skin and antioxidants, and they may help reduce the risk of kidney disease.Apples can help with constipation and lowering cholesterol. Plus apples are very kidney friendly with 159 mg potassium in 1 small apple.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is rich in healthy fats which can help to reduce cholesterol levels. Olive oil is great for cooking at lower temperatures or seasoning foods with (e.g. salad dressing). Be sure to limit fats, even the good ones, to 2 TBSP per day.

Why Are Kidney Healthy Foods Important?

What you eat and drink is important with CKD because they are filtered through the kidneys. A kidney-friendly diet or renal diet can help protect your kidneys. It includes foods that give you the right nutrients in the right amounts, like protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorus. Working with a renal dietitian can help you determine a personalized plan to meet your needs and preserve your kidney function.

Are You Looking To Learn More About A Kidney-Friendly Diet?

If you’re looking to make changes to your nutrition or learn about what you should be eating for CKD, my Kidney Nutrition Fast Track course is here to help get you started. Learn about it here.

Want to work together? Connect with Kidney Nutrition here.

Want to learn more about Emily? Learn more here.

Published by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN

Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in renal nutrition helping those with chronic kidney disease. Emily holds a Master's degree in Foods and Nutrition and is a co-chair of the Southern Ontario Canadian Association of Nephrology Dietitians.

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