13 Best Foods to Eat for Kidney Health

Your kidneys are like filters that clear your body of anything 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 potassium, sodium and more in check. They also produce hormones that help regulate everything from your blood pressure to your bone strength. Long story short: Your kidneys do a lot.

So much in fact that they can be overtaxed. Roughly one in seven Americans has chronic kidney disease, which can cause waste and fluid buildup in your body. Worse, most people with CKD don’t know they have it.

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

The best foods for healthy kidneys

These are our top picks for foods to add to your diet for optimal kidney health.

1. Oily fish

Fish provides protein, and when you choose an oily fish like tuna, salmon or trout, you’ll also get omega-3 fatty acids. According to the National Kidney Foundation, omega-3 fats can help reduce blood fat levels (triglycerides) and may also lower blood pressure.

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If you have CKD, you may need to pay attention to the phosphorus and potassium levels of the fish you choose. The National Kidney Foundation has a chart you can use to determine levels in certain types of fish. Still, it’s best to consult your doctor.

2. Cabbage

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

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Plus, kale is versatile. You can use it in salads and salads, as well as as a wrap for tacos, sandwiches and more.

3. bell pepper

Like cabbage, bell peppers contain many good nutrients with low potassium levels. With them, you get vitamins B6, B9, C and K, as well as fiber. They also provide antioxidants.

If you wish, you can slice it and eat it with dip sauce or fry it and add it to dinner.

Slicing red bed pepper on cutting board with hands and knife

Stock Photo/Getty Images

4. Cranberry

Cranberry helps prevent urinary tract infections. While these usually stay in your bladder, they can travel up to your kidney and make kidney problems worse. Fortunately, consuming cranberries regularly can help you avoid this unwanted condition.

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

5. Blueberries

We’ve talked about some of the best foods for kidneys, but you can take it a step further. The question is: What foods help repair kidneys? Blueberries are delivered here.

With high levels of antioxidants and plenty of vitamin C and fiber, blueberries are all-around healthy. They may also reverse some of the problems that can occur with CKD by helping to reduce inflammation and support bone health.

6. Dark green leafy vegetables

Still wondering which foods help repair kidneys? You can turn to dark, leafy greens like spinach or kale. They provide so many nutrients that they can help you reap essential vitamins and minerals as well as immune-boosting benefits.

However, keep in mind that greens can come with a fair amount of potassium. If you have CKD, talk to your doctor before adding more of these to your diet.

7. Olive oil

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

On top of all that, it can help you add flavor to your meals without resorting to salt or oil.

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

8. Garlic

Garlic, another antioxidant-rich, inflammation-fighting food, also contains a special compound called allicin. Allicin, an active compound found in garlic, has worked as effectively as a prescription drug to help maintain kidney health for people with CKD. If you are looking for the best foods for kidneys, garlic should make the list.

Plus, it’s an excellent way to add flavor even when you’re short of salt.

9. Onion

Onions, which belong to the same family as garlic, give you another excellent, salt-free way to add flavor (bonus points if you sauté them in olive oil). Onions also provide important nutrients such as 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 paired with plenty of vitamins C, B6, B9 and K along with fiber. It also contains compounds your body can use to neutralize certain toxins – a big help when your kidneys aren’t doing their best filtering job.

Cauliflower contains some potassium and phosphorus, so when making a list of foods that are good for the kidneys, people with CKD may want to moderate their intake.

Green, white and purple cauliflowers on cutting board

Thanasis/Getty Images

11. Egg white

Egg whites are especially recommended for people with kidney problems. They offer a way to increase your protein levels – which can be especially important in advanced CKD and especially if you’re on dialysis.

12. rocket

Arugula is packed with nutrients your body needs, such as magnesium, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, B9, C, and K. It’s also rich in antioxidants and contains glucosinolates, which can help your body protect itself against various types of cancer.

You can eat arugula raw (it’s a great salad base), but you can also sprinkle it over what you’re whipping up. For example, it is great on pizzas, omelets and pasta.

13. Apples

Apples provide cancer-fighting quercetin and fiber, which can help keep your cholesterol and blood sugar at healthy levels. And they have plenty of antioxidants.

Even better, it’s easy to include in your diet. Leave a bowl of apples on your counter and you’ll have a healthy takeaway snack for the kidneys when you need it.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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