Renal Diet

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When kidneys start to fail, sodium can accumulate in cells and cause fluid to build up in the tissues called edema. Edema usually occurs on the face, hands, and lower extremities.

Excess sodium also causes blood pressure to rise (hypertension), shortness of breath, and fluid around the heart and lungs. Too much sodium in the diet can contribute to damage to the kidneys and exacerbate swelling.

When your kidneys are not healthy, extra sodium and fluid build up in your body. This can cause swollen ankles, puffiness, a rise in blood pressure, shortness of breath, and/or fluid around your heart and lungs.

High-Sodium Foods

CategoryExamples of Foods to Limit/Avoid
SeasoningsCelery salt, garlic salt, lemon pepper, lite salt, meat tenderizer, onion salt, seasoned salt, table salt
SaucesBarbecue, oyster, soy, teriyaki, and steak sauce
SnacksCorn chips, crackers, nuts, pretzels, salted popcorn, potato chips, sunflower seeds, tortilla chips
Cured FoodsPickles/relish, sauerkraut
Dairy productsButtermilk, cheese
Canned FoodsCanned vegetables, soups, tomato products, juices, ravioli, and meats
Convenience foodsChili, commercial mixes, fast food, frozen prepared meals, macaroni and cheese


Although potassium is important for kidney function, it can be harmful if it builds up in the blood—a condition called hyperkalemia. This can happen when the kidneys are diseased.

An excess of potassium can be dangerous because it can cause an abnormal heart rhythm, which in turn can become severe enough to cause a heart attack.

Foods With 200 mg of Potassium or More

Food typeSpecific foods
FruitsBanana (1/2 whole), Dates (5), Dried fruits, including figs, prunes, and raisins, Kiwi (1 medium), Mango (1 medium), Nectarine (1 medium), Orange (1 medium), orange juice, Pomegranate (1 whole), pomegranate juice
VegetablesBeets (boiled), Broccoli (cooked), Carrots (raw), Greens , White mushrooms, Okra, Potatoes (including sweet), Pumpkin, Spinach (cooked), Tomatoes and tomato products, Vegetable juices
OthersBeans (including baked and refried), Bran, Chocolate, Granola, Milk (1cup), Nutritional supplements- Herbal supplements, Nuts and seeds , Peanut butter, Salt substitute, Salt-free broth, Yogurt, Snuff/chewing tobacco


When healthy and functioning normally, the kidneys filter excess phosphorus out of blood. When the kidneys are diseased, this process is impaired and phosphorus can accumulate. In addition, high phosphorus and calcium levels may lead to calcium deposits in the lungs, eyes, heart, and blood vessels, which over time can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death.

Phosphorus is found in a variety of foods and beverages, in particular:

  • Beer and ale
  • Cocoa and chocolate drinks
  • Dark sodas/colas
  • Canned iced tea
  • Dairy products including milk, milk-based drinks, cheese, custard and pudding, ice cream and cream-based soups
  • Oysters
  • Sardines
  • Fish roe
  • Beef liver, chicken liver, and other organ meats
  • Chocolate candy
  • Caramels
  • Oat bran muffins
  • Brewer’s yeast

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