Kidney Friendly Beans

Plant-based proteins are protein sources derived from plants, as opposed to animal-based sources like meat, dairy, and eggs. Proteins are vital for building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, and maintaining various bodily processes. Plant-based protein (like kidney friendly beans) options offer a range of nutrients and are often lower in saturated fats compared to some animal-based protein sources.

One common question is if you can include kidney friendly beans with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The answer is YES! So let’s dive into how.

What Are Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are two terms often used interchangeably to describe a group of plants that belong to the legume, pea, or bean family. Legumes are a larger category that includes various plants, including beans, lentils, peas, and more. Beans are a specific type of legume that includes a variety of plants producing edible seeds contained within pods. Beans come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, and they are often used in cooking around the world. 

Legumes, such as beans (black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas), lentils, and peas, are rich in plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins (such as B vitamins and folate), and minerals (such as iron and magnesium). They can be used in soups, stews, salads, and as meat substitutes to contribute to a balanced and nutritious diet.

Should You Include Kidney Friendly Beans?

Studies suggest that kidney patients can fulfill their protein requirements using plant-based foods, all the while gaining extra advantages for their health. These benefits include:

Low in Phosphorus: Beans and legumes are generally lower in phosphorus compared to some other protein sources like meat and dairy. Phosphate, the type of phosphorus in the body, also demonstrates increased absorption rates when attached to animal protein compared to plant protein. Depending how legumes are prepared can also lead to decrease amounts of phosphorus in the food.

Potassium Moderation: Some beans and legumes are lower in potassium, which is often a mineral that needs to be monitored in CKD. Though you may have been advised to restrict its intake, animal protein can also contribute significantly to potassium intake and much more! Soaking legumes or using canned can help to decrease the potassium amounts.

LegumePotassium Content
Chickpeas (1/2 cup), boiled252 mg
Chickpeas (1/2 cup), soaked for 12 hours, boiled35 mg
Chickpeas (1/2 cup), canned no added salt182 mg
Lentils (1/2 cup), boiled386 mg
Lentils (1/2 cup), soaked for 12 hours, boiled41 mg
Lentils (1/2 cup), canned no andded salt365 mg

Dietary Fiber: Beans and legumes are rich in fiber, which stimulates the production of anti-inflammatory compounds within the gut and reduces uremic toxins. Fibre also serves to prevent constipation and limits the chance for the body to reabsorb potassium, beneficial to those with CKD. 

Lower Sodium Content: When prepared without added salt, beans and legumes have a lower sodium content compared to processed foods. Managing sodium intake is important for individuals with CKD to help control blood pressure and fluid balance. You can also look for canned items that are no added salt.

Tips For Including Kidney Friendly Beans

Portion and Preparation– It’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and preparation methods. Soaking and cooking beans properly can help reduce their potassium and phosphorus content of kidney friendly beans.

Protein Complementation– While individual plant-based protein sources may not contain all essential amino acids, combining a variety of these sources throughout the day can ensure a well-rounded intake of amino acids.  Check out this blog post on plant based proteins and kidney disease for some more meal ideas.

Are You Looking For Kidney Friendly Beans In Your Diet?

There is no one diet that is right for everyone with CKD but kidney friendly beans can and should be included. If you’re looking to preserve your kidney function and want to learn how to include more plant-based meals, connect with Emily here or check out Kidney Nutrition Fast Track for some support.

This article was written by Neha Dewan, Nutrition Student Volunteer.
This article was reviewed by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN.

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