Foods That Help Boost Kidney Function
Our kidneys are responsible for helping to clear waste products from the blood and remove them from the body in the form of urine; they also help balance electrolyte and fluid levels, and play a critical role in maintaining good health.
When dealing with kidney disease, it is important to focus on the foods that help boost kidney function, and reduce the foods that may stress or damage our kidneys.
While we all need fruits, veggies, fats, grains, and proteins, some foods can be more beneficial than others. And even with the best of intentions, there can be too much of a good thing, so be sure to talk with one of our providers about your specific needs before making changes to your diet.
To help you on your way, we have compiled a list of kidney-friendly foods to help you get started
Fruit is high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, and can be a low-calorie way to satisfy your sweet tooth. The following fruits are especially helpful, as they contain the best combinations of nutrients to help keep your kidneys functioning properly.
- Cranberries (dried or fresh)
- Red Grapes
Vegetables can be a great source of nutrients, including plant-based protein and fiber. Remember that some dark leafy greens may be too high in potassium for you, so your doctor may limit the quantity you eat.
- Fresh Herbs
- Leafy Greens such as:
- Collard Greens
- Red bell peppers
- Sweet Potatoes
- Shiitake Mushrooms⁺
Whole grains are a good source of iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and a variety of antioxidants. They can help regulate blood pressure, cholesterol, bowel regularity, and blood glucose levels. Buy whole grains rather than refined grains (such as refined white rice) since much of the nutritional value is lost in the refining process.
Try toasting the grains before cooking to bring out a richer, more nutty flavor. You can add salt-free seasonings such as cumin or chili powder for a savory side dish, or add a little peanut butter and honey to your breakfast oatmeal!
- Bulgar wheat
- Buckwheat - whole grain without the phosphorus
- Quinoa - higher in phosphorus and potassium than refined grains, so check with your care provider
- Oatmeal - higher in phosphorus and potassium than refined grains, so check with your care provide
Protein helps your body to fight infection, build muscle and repair tissue. The amount of protein you need depends on your body size, the type of kidney problem you have, and the amount of protein in your urine. Ask your care provider how much protein is best for you.
- Egg whites - get all of the protein you need, without the phosphorus you don’t!
- Fish such as Sea Bass - consume small portions to keep your phosphorus levels in check
- Skinless chicken - pre-made roasted or rotisserie chicken tends to be high in sodium and phosphorus, so stick with home-cooked chicken
Most nuts are too high in phosphorus for people following a kidney-friendly diet, but macadamia nuts are the exception. They are packed with healthy fats, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese, but lower in phosphorus than other popular choices such as peanuts and almonds; macadamia nuts are also a source of healthy fats and protein.
There are 2 types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats can help reduce the amount of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase the amount of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in the body.
- Fatty fish such as salmon
- Olive oil - high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat high in anti-inflammatory properties; can be used in salad dressing or cooking
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