Feeling snacky? These easy snack selections are all kidney-friendly—and they taste great, too!
Many health organizations, both government and civil society, work hand-in-hand to raise and promote awareness about kidney diseases and kidney-healthy behaviors. This effort is a rejoinder to the rising rates of Chronic Kidney Disease around the United States and even around the world.
So, you have been diagnosed with CKD. We understand how overwhelming it can be. However, there are many things you can do to help keep your kidney healthy. You can schedule an annual checkup to assess your kidney health, and practice regular exercise. You can also quit smoking and alcohol, or take steps to reduce the level of stress in your life. All of these things can have a positive and helpful effect on your kidney health. Among the simplest lifestyle changes that you can do for your kidneys is watching what you eat.
The National Kidney Foundation and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) in the US and the National Kidney Federation in the United Kingdom warn that eating foods high in sodium, protein, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium can be very bad for the kidney. (Over time, as your CKD progresses, your dietitian will recommend that you limit potassium, phosphorus, and fluids.) So, when taking steps to decrease the risks of having CKD, diet is a good place to start.
Of course, we love to snack, don’t we? But we know that most snacks are often filled with trans (or bad) fat, calories, sugar, salt, and other ingredients that can be harmful to the kidney. In this article, we give you some of the best snacks that are kidney-friendly.
Although changing into a healthier lifestyle may be difficult at first, taking small steps will help you lead in the right direction. You can usually find all the foods you need at the local grocery and convenience store near you. You just need to know what foods to buy to make healthier meals. Needless to say, eating healthy foods, coupled with regular exercise, will help you recover and reduce your risk of more kidney problems and can help boost your kidney (and overall) health for years to come.
So here are 5 on-the-go snacks that can help your kidney. Fortunately, these foods are common items that we often have in our refrigerator and pantry.
1. A bowl of freshly-made salads, particularly chicken salad, egg salad, and tuna salad
These salads should be freshly-made as store-bought salads are rich in sodium. It has been proven scientifically that the lean meat of chicken and tuna are nutritious. Coupled with green onions, cilantro, dill, and parsley, chicken and tuna salads become excellent sources of antioxidants and protein. Salads also have amino acids, apart from essential kidney nutrients such as selenium, zinc, vitamin A, and the many kinds of vitamins Bs—B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), and B12. Both are also low in calories, cholesterol, sodium, and trans-fat.
Egg salads, on the other hand, are loaded with omega-3 fats (which are “saturated” or good fats) and vitamin B12. You may be creative by adding red leaf lettuce, red bell pepper, and olives or carrots and cucumber. It is recommended to use plain old mayonnaise for these salads mixed with non-fat yogurt and low-fat mayo. And to save you from calories, ditch half of the egg yolks.
Summary: Tuna, egg, and chicken salads are excellent sources of antioxidants, protein and its amino acids apart from essential kidney nutrients such as selenium, zinc, vitamin A, and the many kinds of vitamins Bs, such as B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, and B12.
2. A slice of fruit pie, like apple or cherry pie
Apples and cherries are fruits with the low potassium content. Apples are high in fiber which is good for the digestive system. Cherries, on the other hand, reduce inflammation. Both fruits are rich sources of carbohydrates, selenium, and iron. (Iron can prevent anemia and helps manage chronic ailment conditions such as CKD and other urinary system illnesses.) These nutrients help the body regulate its temperature and assists in red blood cells digestion and the formation. When baking these pies, dietitians recommend using natural flavoring such as cinnamon. Cinnamon is known to regulate blood sugar levels.
Interesting fact: Neither pies nor apples originally came from America, but we Americans seemed to have made this all-time favorite snack our own. Historians believe that the pie pastry originated from Greece.
3. Two rolls of vanilla wafers, unsweetened cookies, and unsalted pretzels
Vanilla wafers are rich in dietary fiber and a good amount of protein as well as vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. Dietary fiber prevents constipation, helps in maintaining weight, and lowers blood cholesterol. Moreover, vitamin K, also called phylloquinone, offers protection against cancer diseases in the prostate, lung, liver, and yes, in the kidneys. Unsweetened cookies made from natural sweeteners like raw honey, agave syrup, and fruit purees are rich in protein and provide energy for the body. Unsalted pretzels are low on fat and sodium (which means they cannot trigger high blood pressure), high on carbohydrates, and have fewer calories.
In baking homemade snacks like wafers, cookies, and pretzels, dietitians suggest using whole grain flour instead of refined white sugar and white flour. A healthier baking oil substitute can be olive oil or sunflower oil.
Serving suggestion: In baking wafers, cookies, and pretzels, dietitians suggest using whole grain flour instead of refined white sugar and white flour. A healthier baking oil substitute can be olive oil or grapeseed oil.
4. A serving of fresh fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and grapes
Recent studies show that berries, in general, are good for the heart. Strawberries are high in manganese and vitamin C. Blueberries have high antioxidants. Raspberries, especially those red variants, have high contents of ellagic acid and gallic acid which help neutralize free radicals and toxins in the body. These acids prevent cell damage. They help fight the growth and spread of cancer cells. Grapes have resveratrol which improves blood flow in the kidney.
These fruits are rich in antioxidants which have benefits for heart and kidney health. Antioxidants control blood pressure and blood sugar and help boost mood and memory. On top of those, they are sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low in calories. And yes, they can give you a good night’s sleep.
Trivia: A 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that only 1 in 10 American adults get enough fruits and vegetables daily.
Recommended serving by dietitians include mixing these fruits with creamy millet porridge or with plain yogurt, honey, and freshly chopped mint. You can even top them with vanilla wafers, sugar cookies, or unsalted pretzels.
Summary: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and grapes are very rich in antioxidants which are good for heart and kidney health. Antioxidants control blood pressure and blood sugar and help boost mood and memory. On top of those, they are sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low in calories. And yes, they can give you a good night’s sleep.
5. A serving of fresh vegetable, such as red leaf lettuce and red bell peppers
Red bell peppers are a good source of folic acid and vitamins C and A. They are loaded with antioxidants which, as we know, helps the kidneys do their function of eliminating free radicals and other toxins in the body. Red leaf lettuce contains antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein.
Interesting fact: Healthy eyes and bones, fights cancers, lowers risk of gout and anemia… name it and these superpower vegetables can do that.
Both vegetables are high in nutrients from protein to folate to thiamine, but low in calories. Red leaf lettuce contains a huge amount of water thus, managing your fluid intake and making you well-hydrated. Mixing them with egg, tuna, or chicken salad will make a mouth-watering snack.
Serving suggestion: Mixing red leaf lettuce and red bell pepper in your egg, tuna, or chicken salad will definitely make a mouthwatering snack.
Remember: Adjusting eating habits and diet can be challenging but it is an important step towards having healthier kidneys. You are on your way towards embracing a healthier lifestyle with the proper mindset and great support.
Now, what’s your favorite kidney-healthy snack?
• 6 Healthy Travel Snacks │National Kidney Foundation
• Eating Right for Chronic Kidney Disease│National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
• Renal Disease: Meal and snack suggestions for small appetite │Think Kidneys & University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire – Department of Nutrition and Dietetics
• Kidney-friendly diet for CKD│American Kidney Fund
• Disparities in state-specific adult fruit and vegetable consumption │Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health │National Center for Biotechnology Information
• Apple Pie Is Not All That American │Smithsonian Magazine