The RenalTracker Team
July 13, 2021

Now that it’s summer, the sun is up, and the days are longer. Picnics are a wonderful way to celebrate any magical summer, and what better way to enjoy a picnic than to whip up a scrumptiously delicious kidney diet salad recipes to savor under infinite blue skies! 

leafy kidney diet salad

Can kidney patients eat salads?

A kidney-friendly diet often requires low sodium, potassium, and phosphorus food choices. However, most vegetable salad recipes and packed ones available in the market may tend to go above these restrictions. This is mainly because salad dressings are often high in sodium and used in excessive amounts in salad mixes, while green leafy vegetables and other vegetables such as beans, Brussels sprouts, and artichokes contain high potassium. This is why it can be challenging for CKD patients to prepare vegetable salads. 

But with the proper guidance and right ingredients used, kidney patients can also enjoy a fresh bowl of salad. In this article,  you can learn how to properly prepare a kidney-friendly salad. 

top view kidney diet salad

Whipping up a Kidney Diet Salad

A salad is composed of different food items and held together by a “dressing” to, not only add flavor and texture but more importantly, help properly absorb nutrients. Salads are one of the creative ways to add vegetables and fruits to your diet. Some may add cheese, nuts, and cooked meat as toppings to their salads. To give you an overview, here are four parts of a salad bowl.

Base or Underliner

This is the leafy base or layer of your salad. It can be Romaine, Boston, or Iceberg lettuce, Spinach, Arugula, or other salad greens in the market.

kidney diet salad in a bowl

Garnish

Garnishes bring appeal to any dish. With the correct garnish choice, it can improve the color and appearance of your salad. This may be nuts, croutons, spices, cheese crumbs, and seeds.

Preparing kidney diet salads

Kidney Diet Salad Dressings

The salad dressings are often semi-liquid to add moisture to a salad mixture. It can help improve the palatability and mouthfeel experience of the consumer. Some salad dressings can also contribute to proper digestion too. Its most important health function, though, is to help in the absorption of nutrients into the body, since most salad greens are rich in Vitamin A, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. 

In making a kidney diet friendly salad, some parts of the salad structure may not be included because of the potassium, phosphorus, and sodium restrictions for renal patients. It is also important to be guided on how to choose kidney-friendly ingredients, especially the salad greens or green leafy vegetables of your salad. These ingredients often contain a significant amount of phosphorus or potassium, which can negatively affect your health when elevated.

kinds of kidney diet salad dressings

What leafy vegetables are best for kidney diet salads?

Here are low potassium leafy vegetables that you can consider when preparing your vegetable salad.

Item

SVG Size

calories (kcal)

Carbs
(g)

Protein
(g)

Potassium (mg)

Phosphorus (mg)

Kale

1/2 cup (10.3 g)

3.6

0.45

0.30

35.85

5.65

Green Cabbage

1/2 cup

(35 g)

8.75

2.03

0.45

59.50

9.1

Romaine Lettuce

5 inner leaves (6 g each)

5.1

1

0.37

74

9

Cleaning And Prepping Kidney Diet Salads 

Before eating your salad greens, it is important that they are clean and safe to eat. Wash vegetables prior to consumption, or even cooking. Washing vegetables can be tricky, especially salad greens. Although salad greens may be healthy, If not washed properly might cause foodborne illnesses. Here are tips on how to clean and prepare your vegetables prior to mixing them as a salad: 

washing leafy vegetables for kidney diet salad
  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap before cleaning your fresh and newly bought vegetables. 
  2. Remove the outer leaves or any torn or bruised ones.
  3. Rinse the leafy greens under running water. Use your hands to gently rub the surface of the leaves. A few reminders when washing leafy greens: 
    • Do not soak leafy greens in a sink filled with water. The germs in the sink might contaminate the leafy greens.
    • Do not soak leafy greens in a bowl filled with water. One contaminated leaf can spread to the other leaves through the water.
    • If you do not have access to safe tap water, rinse with other drinkable water (such as filtered, bottled, or distilled water).
  4.  Dry leafy greens with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Kidney Diet Salad Dressing Recipes

Mixed vegetable salads taste bland at times, which is why people commonly use salad dressings to make them more delicious and appetizing. However, for CKD patients, this may be challenging since salad dressings are typically loaded with sodium. Too much sodium in the diet can cause complications such as hypertension, heart problems, and may worsen kidney function. 

Nevertheless, salad dressing is still allowed if prepared properly. Here are a few salad dressing ideas that you can try on your salad. 

Lime & Mayo Dressing

Nutrient Analysis

Makes 5 servings

Sodium

30.34mg

Protein

0.18 g

Potassium

15 mg

Phosphorus

2.42 mg

Calcium

4.42 mg

Calories

81 kcal

Fat

5.38 g

Carbohydrates

6 g

Lime & mayo kidney diet salad dressing

Ingredients

1 fresh lime, sliced into half
⅓ cup of low-fat mayonnaise (low sodium)
2 tsp. of pepper

Directions

  1. Squeeze the 2 fresh limes in a small bowl.
  2. Mix the low-fat mayonnaise into the lime juice. Then add pepper.

Easy Dijon Salad Dressing

Nutrient Analysis

Makes 6 servings

Sodium

131 mg

Protein

0 g

Potassium

17 mg

Phosphorus

8 mg

Calcium

1 mg

Calories

84 kcal

Fat

10 g

Carbohydrates

2 g

Easy Dijon Kidney Diet Salad Dressing

Ingredients

2 tablespoon low salt Dijon Mustard
¼ cup olive oil
⅓ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of Mrs. Dash Herb Seasoning

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl then mix.
  2. You may also combine all ingredients on a jar then cover it and shake to mix.

Don’t have time to prepare the kidney friendly salad dressing recipes above? Here are low-sodium salad dressing options that you can buy from the market:

Annie’s Natural Lite Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Serving size: 2 tablespoons

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 40 

Fat: 3 g

Sodium: 125 mg

Bolthouse Farms Organic Three Herb Vinaigrette

Serving size: 2 tablespoons

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 50

Fat: 4.5 g 

Sodium: 120 mg

Primal Kitchen Lemon Turmeric Vinaigrette

Serving size: 2 tablespoons

Nutrition Facts: 

Calories: 90 calories

Fat: 10 g 

Sodium: 95 mg

Ready to make your own salad? Here are three kidney diet salad recipes you can enjoy this summer. 

Kidney Diet Salad Recipes

We included the portion sizes and nutrition facts to help you track your calories, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus intake. 

Zucchini & Squash Salad

Nutrient Analysis

Makes 2 servings

Sodium

6.95 mg

Protein

3.13 g

Potassium

234 mg

Phosphorus

33.34 mg

Calcium

14.56 mg

Calories

46.17 kcal

Fat

3.75 g

Carbohydrates

8.70 g

Zucchini & Squash Kidney Diet Salad

Ingredients:

1 yellow squash, shaved into strips
½ zucchini, shaved into strips
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 ½ teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
A pinch of black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine yellow squash and zucchini in a large bowl.
  2. Mix mint, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and black pepper in a small bowl then whisk.
  3. Afterward, pour dressing over the squash mixture. Toss to coat.
  4. Divide squash salad over 2 plates.

Asian Style Cucumber & Bell Pepper Salad

Nutrient Analysis

Makes 2 serving

Sodium

7.75 mg

Protein

2.73 g

Potassium

213.85 mg

Phosphorus

44.82 mg

Calcium

25.59 mg

Calories

206 kcal

Fat

18 g

Carbohydrates

8.39 g

Asian Style Cucumber & Bell Pepper Kidney Diet Salad

Ingredients:

½ English cucumber, cut into lengthwise & scraped out of seeds about 2-inch size per slice
2 stalks green onions, white and tender green parts only
1 medium-sized green bell pepper, cut into thin uniform strips
1 medium-sized red pepper, cut into thin uniform strips
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves (4 g)
½ oz chopped walnuts for toppings

Directions:

  1. Toss cucumber into a bowl together with bell peppers.
  2. Whisk together vinegar, sesame oil, crushed red pepper.
  3. Add salad dressing to cucumber and bell pepper mix then toss well.
  4. Serve into two servings and top with crushed or chopped walnuts ¼ oz or 1 ½ teaspoon

Strawberry Garden Salad

Nutrient Analysis

2 servings

Sodium

128 mg

Protein

2 g

Potassium

170.05 mg

Phosphorus

30.35 mg

Calcium

25 mg

Calories

93.24kcal

Fat

5 g

Carbohydrates

10.06 g

Strawberry Garden Kidney Diet Salad

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups Romaine Lettuce chopped
1 medium-sized carrot (10 g) - cut into thin medium-sized strips approx. 2-inches each
½ cucumber, sliced
1.76 oz. strawberry, sliced
½ red onion
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar mixed with 2 teaspoons of olive oil

Directions:

  1. Toss all vegetables in a bowl.
  2. Season with balsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  3. Top with chilled strawberries.
  4. Serve for two plates. 

The Bottom line

In summary, CKD patients can also enjoy a fresh bowl of vegetable salad with proper guidance. Remember to: 

  • Wash your leafy vegetables properly under free-flowing water, and make sure that there is no soil left before using it as a salad ingredient. 
  • Prepare low sodium salad dressings but if you do not have time, there are low-sodium salad dressings available in the market such as Primal Kitchen Lemon Turmeric Vinaigrette, Bolthouse Farms Organic Three Herb Vinaigrette & Annie’s Naturals Lite Honey Mustard Vinaigrette.
  • Choose low potassium vegetables when preparing a homemade vegetable salad. You can also tweak the kidney diet salad recipes above to make it your own.

Sources:

Yellow Squash Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170487/nutrients

Zucchini Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169291/nutrients

Lemon Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167746/nutrients

Fresh Peppermint Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173474/nutrients

Walnuts Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170187/nutrients

English Cucumber Nutrition Facts USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168409/nutrients

Green Onion Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170006/nutrients

Bellpepper Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170427/nutrients

Apple Cider Vinegar Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173469/nutrients

Sesame Oil Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171016/nutrients

Cilantro Leaves Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169997/nutrients

Romaine Lettuce Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169247/nutrients

Strawberries Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/747448/nutrients

Onions Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103364/nutrients

Kale Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/323505/nutrients

Green Cabbage Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169975/nutrients

Lime Nutrition Facts; USDA - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168155/nutrients

Lettuce, Other Leafy Greens & Food Safety; CDC - https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/leafy-greens.html

Four Parts of Salad as the Structure in Salad Creation - https://chefqtrainer.blogspot.com/2019/10/4-parts-of-salad-as-structure-in-salad.html