Description: Kidneys are small and very powerful bean shaped organs that perform certain important functions in the body such as filtering waste products, releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure, balance fluid content in the body and produce urine along with some other essential tasks. When the kidneys are unable to perform the above mentioned functions efficiently, and have some unbearable symptoms, it leads to kidney disease which affects about 10% of the population. There are many ways by which these vital organs can be damaged.


Uncontrolled diabetes and consistent high blood pressure are usually the common risk factors for kidney disease, although obesity, smoking, genetics, gender and age also add to the risk of kidney disease. These conditions damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing the proper functioning of the kidneys at an optimal level leading to various types of kidney disease. Hence it is of utmost importance that people with kidney disease should follow a special diet for the wellness of the kidneys.


Diet and Kidney Disease


Your diet is specified by a diabetologist depending upon the situation of your kidneys. A person who is in the early stage of kidney disease would have different restrictions in diet as compared to those who are in a condition of kidney failure. The stage of kidney failure is known as end-stage renal disease(ESRD). People who have advanced kidney disease need to follow a kidney friendly diet that can help decrease the quantity of waste produced by the blood. Such a diet is known as renal diet and such a diet helps increase kidney function while preventing any further damage to the disease.


Although diet restrictions may not be the same for all people with kidney disease, the diet restrictions recommended for them would restrict the following nutrients as a common rule.

  • Sodium:  Sodium cannot be filtered out by the damaged kidneys if it is taken in excess, thus causing blood sugar levels to rise. Therefore it is recommended that a daily diet of a person having kidney disease should limit sodium to less than 2,000 mg per day. Look out for sodium intake as it is present in many foods, being a major component of table salt.


  • Potassium:  Potassium is known to play an important role in the body, yet people with kidney disease need to limit the intake of potassium as it can increase blood levels to an extreme high. Therefore it is recommended to limit potassium levels to less than 2,000 mg per day.


  • Phosphorus:  Phosphorus is found in many foods, and damaged kidneys do not have the capacity to remove excess phosphorus from the body. Phosphorus is harmful to the body, so it is recommended to have a limited quantity of about 800-1000 mg per day for most patients.
  • Protein: Protein is one more nutrient that needs to be limited by kidney damaged people as the damaged kidneys cannot filter out the waste products from protein metabolism. On the contrary the people who have end-stage renal disease, undergoing dialysis need greater protein for the treatment that filters  and cleans the blood.

Since each individual is different when it comes to kidney disease, it is of utmost importance for every person having any symptoms of kidney disease to talk to your healthcare provider and get the concerned dietary needs. We shall list 20 of the best foods for people having kidney disease.

1). Cauliflower: Cauliflower is a very good source of various nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K and B vitamin folate. Cauliflower is a very nutritious vegetable filled with anti-inflammatory compounds like indoles in addition to being an excellent source of fiber.

Cauliflower is usually replaced for potatoes that have higher levels of potassium. The nutrient factor of cauliflower is – sodium: 19 mg, potassium: 176 mg, phosphorus: 40mg.

2). Blueberries: Blueberries are the best source of antioxidants called anthocyanins, that have the capability to protect against heart disease, certain types of cancers, cognitive decline and of course diabetes. 

Nutrient content: 1 cup of fresh blueberries contains: Sodium-1.5 mg, Potassium-114 mg, Phosphorus-18 mg.


3). Sea bass: Sea bass is a protein of very high quality that contains extremely healthy fats known by the name omega-3s that are known to reduce inflammation and also decrease the risk of cognitive decline, depression and anxiety. Sea bass has comparatively lower amounts of phosphorus levels than all other seafood. So you can consume small quantities of this to keep the levels of phosphorus in check.

Nutrient Content: sodium- 74 mg, potassium- 278 mg, phosphorus- 211 mg.

4).  Red Grapes: Although red grapes are not so delicious, they are filled with nutrition as they are high in vitamin C, contain antioxidants called flavonoids which are known to reduce inflammation. Red grapes are also high in resveratrol, a flavonoid that benefits heart health and also protects against diabetes and cognitive decline.

Nutrient Content: Kidney friendly, one cup of these contain sodium-1.5 mg, potassium-144 mg, phosphorus- 15 mg.


5).  Egg Whites: Egg whites have high amounts of protein and lower amounts of phosphorus when compared to the egg yolks, making egg whites kidney friendly and can be used in renal diet. Egg whites are a good choice for people undergoing dialysis treatment as they need higher protein intake and low phosphorus levels.

Nutrient Content: Two large Egg whites contain sodium-110 mg, potassium-108 mg, phosphorus-10mg.


6). Garlic:  Garlic provides an excellent alternative to salt which has to be taken in very limited quantities by kidney damaged people. Garlic is a good source of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and sulphur compounds with anti-inflammatory properties.

Nutrient Content: Three cloves of garlic contain sodium- 1.5 mg, potassium-36 mg, phosphorus- 14 mg.

7).  Buckwheat:  Although most whole grains tend to be high in phosphorus, buckwheat is an exception. Being highly nutritious, buckwheat provides a good amount of vitamin B, magnesium, iron and fiber, and is gluten-free. It is an excellent choice for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Nutrient Content: Half cup of buckwheat contains sodium: 3.5 mg, potassium- 74 mg, phosphorus-59 mg.

8).  Olive Oil: Olive oil is a source of healthy fat and is phosphorus free, thus it is a good choice for people with diabetes. Olive oil has been a healthy way of maintaining weight for people with advanced kidney disease as these are healthy- high calorie foods as the fat in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid which has anti-inflammatory properties.

Nutrient Content: sodium-0.3 mg, potassium-0.1 mg, phosphorus-0 mg


9). Bulgur: Bulgur is a whole grain wheat product that is a very kidney friendly food, and is an alternative to whole wheat grains that are high in phosphorus and potassium. Bulgur is a good source of vitamin B, magnesium, iron and manganese, plant based protein, dietary fiber which is needed for good digestion.

Nutrient Content: Half cup of bulgur contains: sodium-4.5 mg, potassium-62 mg, phosphorus-36 mg.

10). Cabbage:  Cabbage is loaded with vitamins, minerals and powerful plant compounds, and is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B. Cabbage provides insoluble fiber which helps in keeping the digestive system healthy by promoting regular bowel movements along with bulk to stool.

Nutrient Content: sodium-13 mg, potassium-119 mg, phosphorus-18 mg.


11).  Skinless Chicken:  Chicken is a source of adequate amounts of good quality protein which is essential for good health. Skinless chicken contains much less phosphorus, potassium and sodium when compared to skin-on chicken.

Nutrient Content: Three ounces(84 gms) of skin-less chicken contains sodium-63 mg, potassium-216 mg, phosphorus-192 mg

12). Bell peppers: Bell peppers are filled with good nutrients, powerful antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A. One small bell pepper contains 105% of the recommended quantity of needed intake of vitamin C.

Nutrient Content: One small bell pepper contains sodium- 3 mg, potassium- 156 mg, phosphorus-19 mg.

13). Onions:  Onions provide excellent flavor to renal-diet dishes as they are free of sodium. Onions along with garlic and olive oil form a good combination to enhance flavor in dishes without compromising on kidney health. Onions are also high in vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B and also contain prebiotic fibers that help in keeping your digestive system healthy.

Nutrient Content: sodium-3 mg, potassium-102 mg, phosphorus-20 mg.


14). Arugula:  Arugula is a nutrient filled green that is low in potassium, and hence it is a good choice for kidney friendly salads. Arugula is a good source of vitamin K and manganese and calcium and hence is good for bone health. It also contains nitrates that help lower blood pressure, in turn benefits kidney heath.

Nutrient Content: sodium-6 mg, potassium-74 mg, phosphorus-10 mg.

15).  Macadamia nuts:  Macadamia nuts are a chosen choice for renal diet as it contains much less phosphorus when compared to most nuts. They are known to have lower phosphorus than the popular peanuts and almonds too. They are filled with healthy fats, vitamin B, magnesium, copper, iron and manganese.

Nutrient Content:28 gms of macadamia nuts contain: sodium-14 mg, potassium-103 mg, phosphorus-53 mg.

16). Radish: Radishes make a healthy addition to renal diet being kidney friendly, low in potassium and phosphorus, high in other nutrients, good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that is known to decrease the risk of heart disease and cataracts.

Nutrient Content: Half cup(58gms) of sliced radishes contain Sodium-23 mg, potassium-135 mg, phosphorus-12 mg

17). Turnips:  Turnips are a frequent replacement for potatoes and squash as they are low in potassium, loaded with fiber and vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6 and manganese. These properties make turnips a kidney friendly vegetable.

Nutrient content: Half cup(78gm) of cooked turnips contain: sodium-12.5 mg, potassium- 138 mg, phosphorus-20 mg.

18). Pineapple:  Pineapples are sweet, low potassium, rich in fiber, manganese, vitamin C, bromelain and hence is an alternative to the regular tropical fruits like bananas, kiwis and oranges which are very high in potassium. Bromelain is an enzyme that reduces inflammation.

Nutrient Content: One cup(165 gm) of pineapple pieces contains: sodium-2mg, potassium-180 mg, phosphorus-13 mg.

19). Cranberries:  Cranberries are tiny tart fruits that contain phytonutrients called A-type proanthocyanidins that help prevent bacteria from sticking onto the lining of the urinary tract and bladder hence prevent infections. Cranberries are helpful for people with kidney disease, as they can control urinary tract infections. They are low in potassium, phosphorus and sodium.

Nutrient Content: One cup(100gm) of fresh cranberries contains: sodium-2mg, potassium-80mg, phosphorus-11 mg.


20). Shiitake Mushrooms:  Shiitake mushrooms can be used as plant based meat substitute for those on renal diet, specially for the one who needs less protein. They are a good source of vitamin B, copper, manganese and selenium, and provide fiber. They are low in potassium and hence are a good choice of renal diet.

Nutrient content: One cup(145gm) of shiitake mushrooms contains: sodium-6 mg, potassium-170 mg, phosphorus-42 mg.

The above mentioned kidney friendly foods are great choices for people who are on a renal diet, yet always discuss with your healthcare provider to make sure you are eating right. You must know that dietary restrictions vary depending upon the type and level of kidney damage a person has, or even people undergoing dialysis treatment. Enjoy a healthy renal diet along with other delicious foods that are well balanced and kidney friendly.