Renal Diet 101: Noodles and Pasta

Ah, noodles and pasta. Those thin strands of heavenly goodness. From speedily dished takeouts to haute cuisine servings, noodles have taken various forms.

But do  noodles still deserve a spot in the table of a person with kidney disease?

noodles and pasta with CKD Diet

A TANGLED HISTORY

Jen Lin-Liu, food and culture aficionado, author of the book On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, With Love and Pasta. Quick check, who do you think invented noodles first: the Italians or the Chinese?

The book  tried answering this with her own research.

pasta with CKD Diet

In an email interview with The Atlantic, she shared that the oldest historical mention of noodles she found was in a third century AD Chinese dictionary.
However, it was not the same as the noodles we know now, but is the earliest version of mian pian (which is still served and eaten in China). This implied that noodles are actually based on the Chinese tradition of making a kind of bread that they still eat up to this day.

In the end, her research uncovered, one cannot simply pinpoint an exact origin for noodles, as this particular food item is still reliant on different innovations of cooks and chefs all over the world.

pasta making and CKD Diet

PASTA AND NOODLE VARIANTS

There are tons of different forms of noodles and pasta. Among the really famous ones are the following:

  • Spaghetti – a very famous pasta often paired with tomato or olive-based sauces.
  • Linguine – often paired with light wine, butter-based sauce, and a protein source.
  • Lamian – also known as the Chinese “pulled noodles”, it is made purely from flour and hand-pulled. (Basically: “stretch, fold, twist, repeat” but this takes skill to do perfectly and stylishly.) Its flavor relies heavily on the soup broth added after.
  • Soba – is Japan’s traditional noodle dish. It is made from buckwheat flour and looks a little bit like spaghetti, but is different in color and flavor.
  • Fettuccine – can be paired with thick sauces like ragu or creamy tomato with browned sausage.

Other famous choices are banh pho (rice noodles from Vietnam), dangmyeon (made from sweet potato starch in Korea), penne, and ravioli.

noodles and pasta with CKD Diet

PASTA AND CKD

Pastas and noodles are actually good for CKD patients, especially since they can fit a renal healthy diet.

Some dishes may be more suitable for you than others, depending on your specific needs. Be sure to check with your nephrologist or renal dietitian which nutrients you may need to limit.

noodles with CKD Diet

Putting these as the main base, paired with vegetables, can help you control your intake of sodium, protein, potassium and phosphorus.

One thing to consider, though, is the kind of noodles or pasta you will use. Always check the food labels of the pastas and noodles you buy. Check the nutrition facts for sodium, protein, and potassium levels. Also, look at the list of ingredients to watch out for “phos-“ compounds.

You also need to watch out for sauces and toppings, especially tomato sauces. They may contain high levels of sodium, potassium, and added sugar. The safe route would be a homemade sauce made from fresh, kidney-friendly ingredients. Bear in mind that fresh tomatoes are a natural rich source of potassium though.

Check out our noodle and pasta recipes here!


Sources:

The History of Noodles: How a Simple Food Became a Worldwide Staple, by Justin McDonnell – The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/08/the-history-of-noodles-how-a-simple-food-became-a-worldwide-staple/278637/

A Visual Guide to the 12 Most Popular Pasta Shapes and What to Make With Them, by Rebecca Firkser – Greatist: https://greatist.com/eat/types-of-pasta-guide-to-every-shape#1

Oodles of Noodles: 4 Types of Asian Noodles, by Rosalind Ang – Michelin Guide:https://guide.michelin.com/en/article/travel/oodles-of-noodles-4-types-of-asian-noodles#

Pasta and a Low Protein Diet – A to Z Health Guide – National Kidney Foundation: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/pasta-and-low-protein-diet