March is National Kidney Month

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email

Kidneys are the organs in our body that remove waste materials. Sodium, potassium, and phosphate are some of the minerals the kidneys excrete. When the kidneys do not function properly these waste products build up in the body.

Following a kidney-friendly diet can not only help you feel better, but can also help you avoid complications of renal disease. Therefore, identifying foods that are low in sodium, potassium, and phosphate at the store is important. It can be difficult to identify products high in these minerals, as sodium is the only one required to be listed on the nutrition label. Potassium and phosphorus are listed occasionally, but that is not the norm. FYI: Eating Well with Kim recipes will now include potassium and phosphorus levels in the nutrient information.

Potassium is typically found in fruits and vegetables such as avocados, bananas, legumes, and tomatoes. It is actually easier to limit potassium because it is usually found in natural sources. Avoiding those natural food sources is one way to limit potassium.

Phosphorus is typically found in protein-containing foods such as meat, fish, dairy foods, dried beans and nuts. However, phosphorus intake over the past 20 years has increased due to phosphorus-containing additives in processed foods. Patients with kidney disease may need to limit phosphorus to less than 1000 mg per day. Unfortunately phosphorus is more difficult to identify on packaged goods.

A recent Supermarket Savvy® newsletter reviewed kidney-friendly packaged foods. I have highlighted a few that can be found in several local grocery stores.

Frozen meals and treats:

• Healthy Choice All Natural Entrees: These entrees do not contain any phosphorus-containing ingredients. Many of the Healthy Choices items list potassium levels on the nutrient panel. In addition, the phosphorus level for Healthy Choice items is listed on their web site under the heading “health professionals” (pdf).

• Rice Dream is a good option for a frozen dessert that is low in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. It can be found in the organic section of some grocery stores.

Breakfast and snack items:

• Rice and corn cereals are typically kidney-friendly, if they are not fortified with calcium and don’t contain phosphorus additives. Examples include Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies. They do however contain some sodium; be sure to make note of the sodium content and adjust your remaining food choices for the day accordingly.

• Quaker Quakes rice snacks are made with low potassium and phosphorus rice flour, and they have no added phosphorus ingredients. The Apple Cinnamon has the lowest sodium content (50mg per serving). Some flavors are high in sodium so be sure to read the labels and only choose those lowest in sodium.

If you have questions about a kidney-friendly diet, contact the University Hospital Diabetes Center for a consultation: (706) 868-3241.


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