13 Best Foods to Eat for Kidney Health

Your kidneys are like filters that rid your body of all the things you don’t want. These two fist-sized, bean-shaped organs filter your blood. In doing so, they remove toxins and excess fluids while keeping your potassium, sodium and other levels in check. Plus, they produce hormones that help control everything from your blood pressure to the strength of your bones. Long story short: Your kidneys do a lot.

So much, in fact, that they can get taxed more. Roughly one in seven Americans has chronic kidney disease, which can cause waste and fluid to build up in your body. Worse, most people with CKD don’t know they have it.

Poor eating habits increase your risk for CKD. But when you eat the best food for your kidneys, the opposite can also happen. Because some foods are good for the kidneys, what you eat can help protect your kidney health.

Best Foods for Healthy Kidneys

Here are our top picks for foods to include in your diet for optimal kidney health.

1. Fatty Fish

Fish provides protein, and when you choose fatty fish like tuna, salmon or trout, you’re also getting omega-3 fatty acids. According to the National Kidney Foundation, omega-3 fats may help reduce levels of fats (triglycerides) in the blood and may also lower blood pressure.

If you have CKD, you may need to keep an eye on the phosphorus and potassium levels of the fish you choose. The National Kidney Foundation has a chart you can use to determine levels in specific types of fish. However, it is best to consult your doctor.

2. Cabbage

This nutrient-packed vegetable is low in both potassium and sodium while packing in fiber, vitamins C and K and more.

Plus, cabbage is versatile. You can use it in salads and slaws, but you can also use it as a wrap for tacos, sandwiches, and more.

3. Bell Pepper

Like cabbage, bell peppers have a lot of good nutrients with low levels of potassium. They give you vitamins B6, B9, C and K, plus fiber. And they also provide antioxidants.

You can cut them and eat them with dip or you can fry them and include them in dinner.

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4. Cranberry

Cranberries help prevent urinary tract infections. While these usually stay in your bladder, they can travel up to your kidneys, making kidney problems worse. Fortunately, regular consumption of cranberries can help you avoid this unpleasant condition.

Plus, cranberries contain antioxidants that may help fight inflammation, and they may boost your heart and digestive health. It turns out, these tart berries aren’t just for the Thanksgiving table.

5. Blueberry

We have talked about some of the best foods for kidneys, but you can take it a step further. The question is, which foods help with kidney repair? Blueberries deliver here.

With high levels of antioxidants and loads of vitamin C and fiber, blueberries are healthy in all sorts of ways. They may also help reduce inflammation and support bone health, reversing some of the problems that come with CKD.

6. Dark, Leafy Greens

Still wondering which foods help with kidney repair? You can eat dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale. They provide so many nutrients that they can help you get key vitamins and minerals, as well as immune-boosting benefits.

However, be advised that greens can come with a decent amount of potassium. If you have CKD, talk to your doctor before adding these to your diet.

7. Olive oil

Rich in antioxidants and healthy fatty acids, olive oil can boost your overall health. A Harvard University study found that olive oil can lower cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease, dementia and some types of cancer.

Beyond all that, it can help you add flavor to dishes without using salt or butter.

To get more antioxidants, choose unrefined or cold-pressed olive oil that is virgin or extra virgin.

8. Garlic

Another antioxidant-rich, inflammation-fighting food, garlic also contains a specific compound called allicin. For people with CKD, allicin — an active compound found in garlic — works as effectively as a prescription drug to protect kidney health. If you are looking for best foods for kidney, then garlic has to make the list.

Plus, it’s a great way to add flavor even when you’re skimping on the salt.

9. Onion

From the same family as garlic, onions give you another excellent and salt-free way to add flavor (bonus points if you sauté them in olive oil). Onions also provide important nutrients like vitamins B6 and C, manganese and copper.

They also contain quercetin, a chemical that may help your body fight cancer, and organic sulfur compounds that may lower your risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

10. Cauliflower

Cauliflower brings crunch along with plenty of fiber along with vitamins C, B6, B9 and K. It also contains compounds that your body can use to neutralize some toxins — a big help when your kidneys aren’t doing their best filtration work.

Cauliflower does contain some potassium and phosphorus; however, making it a list of foods good for the kidneys, people with CKD may want to reduce their intake.

Green, white and purple cauliflower on a cutting board

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11. Egg White

Egg whites are especially recommended for people with kidney problems. They give you a way to raise your protein levels – which can be especially important with later-stage CKD, and especially if you’re on dialysis.

12. Arugula

Arugula is rich in nutrients your body needs such as magnesium, iron, calcium and vitamins A, B9, C and K.

You can eat arugula raw (it’s a great salad base), but you can also sprinkle it over whatever you’re making. For example, it’s great in pizza, omelets, and pasta.

13. Apple

Apples provide cancer-fighting quercetin and fiber that may help keep your cholesterol and blood sugar at healthy levels. And they’ve got plenty of antioxidants.

Better yet, they’re easy to work into your diet. Leave a bowl of applesauce on your counter and you’ll have a kidney-healthy grab-and-go snack whenever you need one.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider with respect to any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or health objectives.

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