Learn what types of foods are beneficial for kidney health and what foods to avoid if you’re living with kidney disease. Find out the best fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fluids to consume to improve your kidney function.
When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, waste products from the food build up in the bloodstream, which is detrimental to your kidneys.
Fortunately, certain nutrient-rich superfoods can help people with kidney ailments maintain a healthy diet while supporting their kidneys.
Diet and Kidney Disease
What foods help repair kidneys depends on the degree of kidney impairment. For instance, individuals in the preliminary phases of kidney illness have different constraints than those with end-stage renal disease (i.e., kidney failure).
Individuals with advanced kidney disease need to stick to a renal diet, which decreases the waste in the blood. This specific diet type helps promote healthy kidneys and prevent additional harm from being done.
While dietary restrictions vary, patients with kidney ailments are recommended to restrict their sodium, potassium, and phosphorus intake. Protein consumption needs to be adjusted as damaged kidneys can’t process the waste products from protein metabolism.
However, end-stage renal disease patients undergoing dialysis require significantly more protein to maintain optimal health. That said, you can find many nutritious and delicious foods low in phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.
Top 15 Healthy Foods for People with Kidney Disease
If you’re wondering what foods help repair kidneys, below are 15 foods for people with kidney disease:
These benefit the kidneys and urinary tract. These fruits are rich in phytonutrients, specifically A-type proanthocyanidins, which guard against bacteria attaching to the urinary tract and bladder walls. This helps ward off infections. This superfood can be added fresh, cooked, dried, or as a juice and are naturally low in potassium (80 mg), phosphorus (11 mg), and sodium (2 mg) (one cup of fresh cranberries).
It is an amazing superfood packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals. It is an excellent source of manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. In addition, its sulfur compounds provide anti-inflammatory qualities. For every 3 cloves (9 grams) of garlic, you can get your daily intake of minerals such as sodium (1.5 mg), potassium (36 mg), and phosphorus (14 mg).
People believe leafy greens such as spinach and kale are good for your body, but they can be detrimental if you’re on a kidney disease diet as they are high in potassium. However, arugula is low in potassium, making it kidney friendly. Arugula is enriched in vitamin K, manganese, and calcium, which are essential for strong bones. It also contains nitrates that help reduce blood pressure levels. A single cup (20 grams) of arugula is all you need to get your daily intake of sodium (6 mg), potassium (74 mg), and phosphorus (10 mg).
These are a great source of vitamins B and C, antioxidants, folate, and manganese. It also has a phytonutrient called ellagic acid, which can neutralize free radicals in our bodies and protect us from cell damage. With only 1/2 cup of raspberries, you get 7 mg of phosphorus, 93 mg of potassium, and no sodium.
Loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory compounds, cauliflower contains vitamins C, K, and folate. It’s also full of fiber which helps promote good digestion. With just a single cup (124 grams) of cooked cauliflower, you can get your daily dose of essential minerals like sodium (19 mg), potassium (176 mg), and phosphorus (40 mg).
Not only are strawberries delightful to the taste, but they also contain outstanding nutritional benefits. With low potassium levels and high concentrations of vitamin C, manganese, and fiber, this superfood is an indulgent choice for those on a renal diet. A 1/2 cup or 5 medium-sized fresh strawberries contains 120 mg of potassium, 13 mg of phosphorus, and 1 mg of sodium.
Tropical fruits like oranges, bananas, and kiwis are generally high in potassium, but pineapple is an exception. This delicious fruit is highly beneficial for those with kidney issues. Moreover, this fruit is packed with fiber, manganese, vitamin C, and bromelain, which helps alleviate inflammation. Just one cup (165 grams) of this tropical fruit contains 2 mg of sodium, 180 mg of potassium, and 13 mg of phosphorus.
It is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, B vitamins, and vitamin K. Additionally, the insoluble fiber found in cabbage helps keep the digestive system healthy by promoting bowel regularity. Furthermore, this cruciferous vegetable is quite low in potassium (13 mg per cup), phosphorus (119mg per cup), and sodium (18mg per cup).
9. Skinless Chicken
Although protein-rich foods aren’t recommended for people with kidney problems, the body still needs some animal proteins to stay healthy. Fortunately, skinless chicken is a perfect choice as it contains low potassium and phosphorus levels while still providing your body with essential proteins. A single three-ounce serving of skinless chicken provides 192 mg of phosphorus, 216 mg of potassium, and 63 mg of sodium.
10. Bell Peppers
Unlike some other vegetables, bell peppers are low in potassium. However, bell peppers are loaded with vitamin C. A single small red bell pepper (74 grams) contains over the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, plus a huge dose of vitamin A, essential for immunity, especially for those with kidney disease. In addition, bell pepper has 3 mg sodium, 156 mg potassium, and 19mg phosphorus.
These are great additions to your renal-diet dishes without any sodium. In addition, onions are abundant in vitamin C, manganese, B vitamins, and prebiotic fibers that support your digestive health by providing nutrition to your gut bacteria. In one small onion (70 grams), there is 3 mg of sodium, 20 mg of phosphorus, and 102 mg of potassium.
12. Shiitake Mushrooms
Nutritionists regard shiitake mushrooms as a great plant-based substitute for meat, making it ideal for those on a renal diet. These mushrooms are enriched in B vitamins, manganese, selenium, and copper. In addition, they are a good source of plant-based protein. Shiitake mushrooms are also highly recommended as they are lower in potassium. A serving (145 grams) of cooked shiitake mushroom contains only 6 mg of sodium, 170 mg of potassium, and 42 mg of phosphorus.
13. Macadamia Nuts
While nuts, such as peanuts or almonds, are generally not suggested recommended for those on a kidney disease diet because of their high phosphorus content, macadamia nuts are an exception. They’re low in phosphorus but still have high levels of essential fats, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, and manganese. One ounce (28 grams) has 1.4 mg sodium, 103 mg potassium, and 53 mg phosphorus.
These make great items for a kidney disease diet. Radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant associated with a lower risk for heart disease. But that’s not all; these vegetables also contain substantial amounts of other essential nutrients while being very low in potassium and phosphorus levels. A half cup of radishes, weighing 58 grams, contains a healthy balance of sodium (23 mg), potassium (135 mg), and phosphorus (12 mg).
15. Olive Oil
It is rich in essential fats and free of phosphorus which makes it perfect making for people with kidney diseases. Let’s talk about the fat content of olive oil for a moment. Olive oil has oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, which has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also low in sodium and potassium. One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil has just 0.3 mg sodium and 0.1 mg potassium.
What Does A Kidney-Friendly Diet Do?
The kidneys’ primary function is to eliminate waste and extra fluid from the body while regulating mineral balance and blood pressure levels.
Being aware of what foods help repair kidneys and following a kidney-friendly diet will keep your kidneys in peak health. This means that you must be mindful of what foods and fluids you consume so that excessive amounts of electrolytes and other minerals don’t accumulate in your body.
Furthermore, limit your daily protein intake, calories, vitamins, and minerals as part of a kidney-friendly diet. This can help the kidneys function properly and protect them from further damage. Limit intake of some food items if you’re in the early stage of kidney problems. However, stop consuming them completely if your situation gets worse.
What are the Ways to Make A Kidney-Friendly and Diabetic Diet Work Together?
Combining diabetes and kidney illness can be tricky, so monitoring your blood sugar levels is essential to protect your kidneys from further damage.
Fortunately, diabetic, and kidney-friendly diets are surprisingly similar; only slight differences need to be considered when creating an effective meal plan. Thankfully, these two dietary restrictions do not have to work against each other—instead, they should complement one another.
Below are foods that are healthy for you if you want to know what foods help repair kidneys whether you’ve renal diseases or diabetes:
- Fruits: Papaya, berries, cherries, plums, and apples
- Vegetables: Onions, spinach, and cauliflower
- Proteins: Eggs, lean meats (poultry), fish, and seafood (unsalted)
- Carbohydrates: Whole-wheat bread, pasta, crackers (unsalted)
- Fluids: Water, clear soups, and unsweetened tea
- Salt – Avoid table salt and food items high in sodium, such as fast food. If you experience puffiness in your ankles, breathing problems, high blood pressure, or fluid buildup in your heart and lungs—stop taking salt. Keep your daily salt intake under 1,500 mg.
- Potassium – When you have kidney issues, high potassium levels in your blood can cause severe heart problems. Avoid oranges, tomatoes, bananas, avocados, potatoes, broccoli, and whole-grain bread. Eat apples, carrots, cabbage, cranberries, and strawberries.
- Protein – Too much protein may cause worse kidney health if your kidneys aren’t working properly. Cut down on seafood, lean meat, and dairy. Consult your dietitian for more.
- Phosphorus – When your kidneys are healthy, they can’t eliminate excess phosphorus from your blood. Avoid dairy, meat, fish, nuts, beans, whole-grain bread, and sodas, as these items are high in phosphorus.
- Calcium – Avoid OTC calcium supplements and calcium-rich foods such as dairy foods.
- Fluids – Damaged kidneys cannot rid your body of extra fluid. So cut back on foods with a lot of water, such as watermelon, grapes, and ice cream.
What Food Items Should You Limit for Kidney Disease?
If you have been diagnosed with kidney disease, you need to accept the fact that food items once that are part of a healthy diet may not be suitable for you any longer. You need to know what foods help repair kidneys and what foods should be limited.
The best way to naturally repair your kidneys is by drinking plenty of water and reducing sodium and phosphorus intake.
The best fruits for kidney health are cranberry, pineapple, blueberry, and apples. These fruits contain antioxidants that can prevent UTIs.
You can improve your kidney function quickly by eating a balanced diet, reducing sodium and protein intake, drinking more water, and avoiding cigarettes and other drugs. In addition, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.
Yes, papaya is good for kidney health. Papaya has high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which help protect the kidneys from damage.
Cranberry juice is one of the best juices for kidney health. It helps flush out toxins and bacteria from the kidneys that can lead to infection, inflammation, and other kidney problems.
There you go – 15 foods that help repair kidneys in the presence of diabetes and renal diseases. A renal diet is essential for anybody with kidney disease, as it can help protect against further damage and slow down the progression of the disease. Following a low-salt, low-protein diet and limiting phosphorus and potassium intake is also important. Avoid processed foods, alcohol, and cigarettes. And above all, drink plenty of water!