Healthy Foods for Kidney Disease

While chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects roughly 11% of adult Americans, for older people, the incidence rate jumps to nearly 40%. If a family member in your life struggles with CKD, following the doctor’s suggested dietary plan is very important. The aim is to make certain that amounts of fluid, minerals, and electrolytes remain balanced.

The National Kidney Foundation is a superb resource, with chapters in the majority of states, providing educational material and support to both patients with CKD and the family members who take care of them. They provide the following nutritional guidelines, outlining healthy foods for kidney disease, and those to avoid (but always check with your loved one’s physician before adjusting his or her diet):


Carbohydrates are a great source of energy for those who have to follow a low-protein diet, as well as providing necessary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These generally include breads, grains, vegetables and fruits, along with sweets, such as cookies/cakes, honey, sugar, hard candy, and jelly (limiting nuts, chocolate, bananas, and dairy).


The doctor or dietitian may suggest a low-protein diet, but proteins continue to be necessary, and can be acquired through fish, poultry, eggs, pork, and even protein powders or egg whites.


The levels of these minerals are checked regularly in individuals with chronic kidney disease. Phosphorous levels in particular that are too high can cause the body to utilize calcium from the bones, reducing their strength and increasing the possibility for a break. It’s recommended to avoid high-phosphorous foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, but heavy cream, margarine, butter, ricotta, and brie cheese contain lower levels and may be approved as part of the older adult’s dietary plan. Calcium and vitamin D supplements may be required to prevent bone disease as well.


Reducing sodium in the diet is helpful not just for kidney health, but to regulate high blood pressure also. To reduce sodium intake, try to find foods labeled “low-sodium,” “no salt added,” “unsalted,” etc., and refrain from adding salt while cooking or season food before eating, opting instead for sodium-free seasonings such as lemon or herbs.


Potassium levels also need to be watched closely in those diagnosed with CKD. As many vegetables and fruit contain high levels of potassium, it’s safest to select those from these options:

  • Fruit: grapes, pears, peaches, apples, pineapple, tangerines, watermelon, berries, plums
    • AVOID: nectarines, oranges, dried fruits, bananas, prunes, honeydew, kiwis, cantaloupe, nectarines
  • Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, celery, eggplant, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, lettuce, peppers, and onions
    • AVOID: avocado, asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin, and cooked spinach


Low iron and anemia are not unusual in those diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Foods with high iron content include liver, pork, chicken, beef, kidney and lima beans, and cereals with added iron.

Hearts at Home In-Home Care, a Kansas City in-home care and senior care services provider throughout the surrounding areas, can assist by shopping for, planning, and preparing healthy, nutritious meals according to any prescribed dietary plan, and we’ll even clean up the kitchen afterwards! We are also available to provide transportation to doctors’ appointments, pick up prescriptions, and provide pleasant companionship in order to make life with CKD easier. Contact us at 913-440-4209 for additional information about our exceptional home care services! For a full list of all of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.