Your kidneys are essential. They remove waste and excess fluid from the body. They also help balance the body's fluids, release vital hormones that help regulate blood pressure, and control red blood cell production. Maintaining optimum kidney health is essential for everyone, but people with existing kidney disease or other condition need to pay particular attention. Certain foods can do double duty providing essential nutrients and helping keep these vital organs in peak condition.
Cabbage is an ideal food for people with kidney damage or kidney disease. People with kidney conditions often have dietary restrictions such as avoiding foods with too much potassium, sodium, and phosphorus. Cabbage is low in these nutrients but high in fiber and antioxidants that can help heal the kidneys or, at least, help guard them against further damage.
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As a rich source of antioxidants, it's not surprising blueberries are especially ideal for a diet focused on kidney health. Like cabbage, blueberries are low in those nutrients that force the kidneys to work overly hard, such as phosphorus and potassium. Blueberries are excellent for supporting kidney health, but they also improve cognitive function and even help prevent heart disease.
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Garlic is a superfood that supports many aspects of health including kidney function, thanks to its outstanding anti-inflammatory properties. The bulb is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese -- nutrients ideal for reducing inflammation. Because garlic is also flavorful, it makes a great alternative to salt. Even more so than others, people with kidney damage should be careful about the amount of salt they ingest.
Olive oil is phosphorus-free, which makes it excellent for kidney-friendly diets. It is also good for the heart, as well, so it's something we should all include in our diets. Olive oil is rich in polyphenols -- plant compounds with antioxidant properties -- that help prevent damage caused by oxidation. These compounds, along with healthy fats, also keep inflammation at bay.
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To promote general health and support your kidneys, you need high-quality sources of protein. Skinless chicken breast can fulfill this need. Some people with kidney disease need to limit their protein, so they should ensure the protein they do ingest is high-quality and low in sodium and phosphorus. Removing the skin reduces the amount of these nutrients. Making your meals with fresh chicken breast is preferable, as pre-cooked versions often have additives such as salt.
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Folk medicine practitioners have long prescribed cranberries to guard against urinary tract infection. Researchers suggest one reason this berry is so beneficial is its ability to prevent harmful bacteria like E. coli from sticking to the lining of the bladder and urinary tract. When bacteria adhere to this lining, they multiply and cause an infection that can spread to the kidneys. People with kidney disease tend to be at increased risk for urinary tract infections, so cranberries are an ideal dietary choice.
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While all grapes are healthy, red and purple grapes are especially good for people with kidney damage because they contain flavonoids such as anthocyanin, which gives grapes their dark color and reduces the risk of blood clots and damage from free radicals. Grapes are readily available and make for a convenient, on-the-go snack.
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People with kidney disease are often encouraged to avoid tropical fruit, but pineapple is considered a safe option because it is low in potassium and rich in B vitamins, manganese, fiber, and bromelain. The latter enzyme effectively reduces inflammation, which can cause a kidney condition to flare up. If you're looking for a refreshing snack that supports kidney health, choose pineapple.
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Low in potassium but high in many healthful nutrients, bell peppers make the list of kidney-friendly foods. Bell peppers are a great food to eat raw, or they can be diced and sauteed or roasted for use in many recipes from pasta sauces to casseroles. Bell peppers are rich in vitamins C and A, which have important antioxidant effects that support immunity and kidney health.
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Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable rich in folate, vitamins C, K, and fiber. It contains compounds that can reduce inflammation. Cauliflower is also low in potassium, so it is an excellent alternative to potatoes, which are high in potassium. More and more recipes online are featuring cauliflower in place of white potatoes and rice.
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What they say about an apple a day definitely applies to keeping the kidneys fit. Apples have pectin, a polysaccharide or sugar. Based on some research, pectin may help increase urination. Pectin may also lower serum creatinine, a muscle-breakdown waste product. Apples are rich in the flavonoid quercetin, too, which decreases the risk of certain kidney diseases.
Salmon is the go-to fish when planning a healthy diet plan. It's kidney benefits come from omega-3 fatty acids, which play a significant role in reducing inflammation in the body, and the kidney malfunction this can cause. Omega 3 fatty acids also assist in controlling blood pressure and triglycerides. High blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels increase the risk of kidney damage and heart disease. Just one 3.5-ounce serving twice a week should do it.
Another way to keep kidneys healthy is to reduce blood sugar spikes from simple carbohydrates by incorporating more complex ones that have low or medium glycemic index, like buckwheat or bulgur. Both are whole grains that can easily replace rice. They don't cause unhealthy sugar spikes that can damage kidney blood vessels and filtration over time. Buckwheat is a seed used for cereal, while bulgur is made from dried, cracked wheat groats and has a nutty flavor. Other wheat products that are rich in phosphorus and potassium can be problematic for those with kidney disease, making these grains great alternatives.
Arugula is a leafy green that can give your salads and side dishes a nice peppery flavor while aiding in blood pressure control. It's low in potassium, which counteracts the negative effects of salt and helps kidneys to better control body fluid levels. Arugula is also a source of organic nitrates, a precursor to nitric oxide, which opens up blood vessels and promotes lower blood pressure while regulating multiple renal functions, including filtration and excretion.
In addition to making a great dessert topping or standalone snack, a one-ounce serving of macadamia nuts is a better choice to protect kidneys than other popular nuts on the market. Macadamias are rich in manganese, which fights damage to cells. They also have thiamine or vitamin B1, which helps the kidneys ward off disease.
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