Kidney Diet: Best Food for Kidney Health

07 Mar, 2024

Understanding the Renal Diet and Its Importance

A kidney diet is recommended for patients with kidney disease or individuals at increased risk of kidney disease. The renal diet aims to minimize kidney strain and improve kidney function. A renal diet prevents or manages kidney inflammation and urinary tract infections. Following a renal diet assists in balancing the fluids, electrolytes, minerals, and proteins in the body of patients with kidney disease or on dialysis.

Key Principles of a Renal Diet for Kidney Patients

It is essential to follow certain principles while patients with kidney disease plan a kidney diet. These principles include:

  • Limit the consumption of protein in your diet. Food with high-quality protein is preferred.
  • Avoid packaged or fast foods, as they are rich in sodium.
  • Avoid salt in the food; rather, use dried herbs as an alternative.
  • Canned vegetables and beans should be thoroughly rinsed, as they contain salt.
  • Prefer fresh and homemade foods.
  • Limit the consumption of alcohol.

Foods to Enhance Renal Function and Vitality

‘What are the 10 best foods for kidney disease?’ is one of the common things that people look for on the internet. Several foods increase overall kidney function and promote renal vitality. The important foods for kidney health are:


Cauliflower is considered one of the best food for kidney health. It reduces the oxidation of fats and lowers inflammation, which promotes kidney health. It also lowers the risk of several medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, indirectly affecting kidney health. Cauliflower is also low in potassium and sodium.

Sea bass

High-quality protein is important for people on dialysis. Sea bass, a fish, provides high-quality protein. Further, it is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and metabolic abnormalities in the kidneys. It is low in sodium and high in calcium, zinc, and iron.

Egg whites

Whole eggs have a higher phosphorus content. However, egg white provides high-quality protein, is low in phosphorus, and is the best food for kidney health. It has been reported that egg white is an important protein source for dialysis patients. It increases serum albumin and lowers serum cholesterol and phosphorus.


Several studies have reported the protective role of buckwheat in renal function. Improvement in renal function by lowering serum creatinine with buckwheat was shown in a rat, while a polyphenolic extract of buckwheat benefits patients with renal diseases. It is low in potassium and contains magnesium, B vitamins, fiber, and iron.

Olive oil

Olive oil affects kidney health through several mechanisms. Olive oil reduces oxidative stress through its antioxidant properties. Several ingredients present in olive oil, such as oleuropein, oleic acid, and hydroxytyrosol, have a positive effect on kidney health. In addition, it is overall a protective compound against renal toxicity, kidney damage due to blood pressure, urinary tract infection, and kidney-ischemia reperfusion.


Bulgur is an excellent alternative to other grains rich in potassium and phosphorus. It is obtained by steaming, drying, crushing, and removing the bran from the whole wheat. It is rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, and vitamin B complex. Further, it provides plant proteins and is rich in fibers that are good for maintaining overall health.


Cabbage is a good food for kidney health and is beneficial for patients with chronic kidney disease because of its low sodium and potassium content. The food is rich in vitamins B6, B9, C, and K. It provides many fibers and phytochemicals that help keep the kidneys healthy. It prevents obesity and oxidative stress and manages blood sugar. It has been reported that it lowers the risk of liver and kidney damage. Individuals can include cabbage in salads and soups or eat it with pepper and salt.

Skinless chicken

Compared to skin-on chicken, skinless chicken has less phosphorus, sodium, and potassium. Further, skinless chicken is an excellent source of high-quality protein. Patients with kidney disease should eat fresh chicken and avoid pre-made roasted chicken due to its high sodium and phosphorus content. However, protein intake should be monitored, and you should take advice from a nephrologist before taking any food rich in protein.


Radish is low in phosphorus and potassium and high in other important nutrients required in patients with kidney disease. It detoxifies the body and has powerful antioxidant properties due to a significant quantity of vitamin C. It reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease that may cause or worsen kidney disease.

Bell peppers

Unlike several other vegetables, bell peppers are low in phosphorus and potassium content and rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Most kidney patients have a lower level of vitamin A, which is important for immune function. Bell peppers have a good amount of vitamin A.

Foods to Avoid with Kidney Disease

Foods that can be avoided in the diet of kidney patients are:

High-Potassium Foods

Patients with kidney disease should avoid foods that are high in potassium. Some foods did not show the content of potassium on the label. It is important to identify foods with hidden potassium.

Identifying Hidden Potassium Sources

Potassium can be found in diet bars, protein drinks, certain dietary and herbal supplements, sports drinks, and dried fruits. The foods to avoid in kidney disease that are rich in potassium include kidney beans, potatoes, avocados, kiwis, fish, such as wild salmon, and dairy products.

Strategies for Portion Control with High-Potassium Foods

It is important to avoid foods that are high in potassium. Another way to limit potassium consumption is to cook the food in a way that removes excess potassium. Drain the vegetables, canned fruits, and meat thoroughly with water. Leaching vegetables is another method to reduce potassium levels. Cook the vegetables in a large amount of water, and then rinse the cooked vegetables in cold water.

Sodium-Rich Foods

Sodium-rich foods increase fluid retention and have a negative effect on health in patients with kidney diseases; they should be limited in the diet of kidney patients.

Understanding Sodium Content through Food Label

"Unsalted" on the label only indicates that no sodium is added outside. However, patients should check what they eat, as certain foods inherently contain high sodium. "Sodium-free" on the label indicates that the product contains < 5 mg of sodium.

Low-Sodium Alternatives for Flavorful Meals

Some of the low-sodium alternatives for flavorful meals are lemon juice, dill, ground black pepper, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, onion powder, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, truffle oil, coriander, ginger, apple cider vinegar, coconut, red pepper flakes, tarragon, sage, cinnamon, parsley, dry mustard, and bay leaf.

High-Protein Foods

High-quality proteins could be part of the diet of kidney patients.

Exploring Protein-Rich Food Sources for a Balanced Diet

Some foods for kidney health that contain high-quality protein are fish, egg whites, chicken, deviled eggs, cottage cheese, pork chops, tofu, and high-protein smoothies.

Strategies for Portion Control with High-Protein Foods

It is important to maintain the albumin level, even in kidney patients, as it is important for tissue growth and repair. The patients should incorporate a protein-rich, healthy diet every day. If the patient is on a low-protein diet and is not on dialysis, at least half of the recommended daily protein should be from high-quality protein-rich foods.

Phosphorus Rich Foods

Diet for CKD patients should not contain phosphorus-rich foods. Some foods rich in phosphorus are seafood, dairy, nuts, organ meats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whole grains, lentils, beans, quinoa, soy, and amaranth.

The Role of Fruits in a Kidney Diet

Nutritional Benefits of Fruits for Kidney Health

Fruits are important diet constituents for patients with kidney disease. They reduce oxidative stress, lower inflammation, improve kidney function, and repair damaged renal tissues. Fruits for kidney health also lower the risk of urinary tract infections and prevent stone formation. Fruits have a high fiber content that manages constipation.

Supporting Hydration and Kidney Function

Good foods for kidney patients include pineapple, cranberries, blueberries, and red grapes. These fruits also help support hydration.

Tips to Select Fruits for Kidney

Managing Potassium Levels with Low-Potassium Fruits

Fruits that have low potassium levels and are beneficial to patients with kidney diseases are pears, peaches, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, apples, and raspberries.

High-Antioxidant Fruits

Fruits rich in antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress and delay the progression of kidney damage due to free radicals. Good foods for kidney patients are plums, strawberries, raspberries, apples, cranberries, watermelons, and avocados.

Top 10 Fruits for Kidney Health

The top 10 fruits for kidney health are:


Blueberry is a good option for patients with kidney diseases due to their low phosphorus, sodium, and potassium content. It contains a potent antioxidant, anthocyanin, which reduces the risk of several medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart health. These medical conditions are risk factors for kidney diseases. Studies have reported that blueberries reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and improve renal function.


Apples are safe for patients with chronic kidney disease and dialysis, on hemodialysis, or undergoing kidney transplantation. The fruit has a powerful anti-inflammatory property that heals the kidney tissues or manages infection. Apples are good sources of vitamin C and fiber and are low in phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.


Watermelon is also an excellent fruit for kidney health. An appropriate amount of watermelon is good for kidney patients due to the presence of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene assists in neutralizing harmful free radicals that negatively affect kidney health. Watermelon is also good in beta-carotene and vitamin C. However, it should be taken in moderation due to its high potassium content.


Cranberries are beneficial for kidney health and improve the health of both the urinary tract and kidneys. They contain A-type proanthocyanidins, a phytonutrient that does not allow the bacteria to stick to the walls of the urinary tract, thereby preventing urinary tract infection. Cranberries are low in potassium, phosphorus, and sodium and are a good source of vitamin C and fiber.


Unlike other fruits, such as bananas, oranges, and kiwis, pineapple is low in potassium. Pineapple also helps in managing inflammation due to the presence of bromelain, an enzyme. It also has vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese, and fiber. It also manages the pain and discomfort present in people with renal disease.


Strawberries are also low in potassium, sodium, and phosphorus. These are a good source of manganese, vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants. Strawberries contain anthocyanins and ellagitannins that help improve kidney function. They are also an excellent source of fiber.


Cherries are a good option for patients with kidney disease. They have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in vitamin C and fiber. They also help in managing gout, which is present in several patients with kidney diseases. Cherries also assist in removing excess creatinine from the body.


Grapes significantly lower the risk of kidney disease and have the potential to reverse kidney damage. Studies have reported that the substance present in the skin and seed of grapes may reverse kidney damage caused by a high-fat diet. Grapes also contain potent antioxidants that protect the kidney against oxidative damage. Grapes also have resveratrol, which is effective in preventing ischemia and renal disturbances.


Peaches are good food for kidney health due to their high content of vitamins, fibers, and antioxidants and low levels of oxalate and potassium. Several substances present in peaches reduce the risk of various chronic conditions that may negatively affect kidney health.


Pears are low in sodium content and can balance water and sodium in the body. The high malic acid content in pears protects against developing kidney stones. Pears are low in fat and high in vitamin K, potassium, copper, and vitamin C.

Lifestyle Strategies to Maintain Kidney Health

Lifestyle Habits to Support Kidney Wellness

Several people ask nephrologists about how to maintain kidney health. Some of the lifestyle habits that support kidney wellness are:

  • Manage stress
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid smoking
  • Do not consume packaged food
  • Incorporate healthy foods into the renal diet

Monitoring Your Kidney Health: Signs of Well-being

Nephrologists usually guide their patients on several topics, including “how to know if your kidney is healthy?”. Some of the signs that indicate a healthy kidney are:

  • Unaltered urine frequency and/or volume
  • No sudden and persistent night-time urination
  • No change in urine color
  • Absence of blood in the urine
  • No edema or swelling in ankles, feet, or below eyes
  • No fatigue or weakness


Several kidney diseases are progressive, if not adequately managed, and require comprehensive management strategies to prevent or delay their progression. Renal diet is an important part of the overall approach for patients with kidney diseases. Patients should take the best foods for kidney health that are rich in antioxidants and high-quality proteins and low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus content. Those with kidney disease should ask for a renal diet food list from their healthcare provider or a dietician experienced in managing the diet of kidney patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. Which supplements are good for kidney health?

    Some of the best foods for kidney health include cauliflower, blueberries, egg white, buckwheat, olive oil, sea bass, peppers, cabbage, red grapes, onions, bulgur, turnips, garlic, arugula, mushrooms, cranberries, chicken, macadamia nuts, pineapple, radish, pears, strawberries, and peaches.

  • 2. Which drinks should I avoid for a kidney diet?

    Some of the drinks that patients with kidney diseases should avoid include caffeinated drinks (as they cause strain on the kidneys), orange juice (high in potassium content), and carbonated drinks (due to the increased risk of kidney stones).

  • 3. What makes kidneys worse?

    Some conditions that worsen kidney diseases include uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes, foods rich in potassium, phosphorus, and sodium, consuming carbonated and caffeinated drinks, smoking, and excessive use of over-the-counter medications.

  • 4. Which nutrients help to repair kidneys?

    Nutrients that help repair the kidneys include vitamins A, B complex, C, and K, and phytochemicals such as anthocyanin, iron, and calcium. Other substances that may assist in good kidney health are alpha lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, resveratrol, and probiotics.

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