11 Best Snacks For Renal Diet That Are Kidney Friendly

Snacks for renal diet require careful selection to accommodate the unique dietary needs associated with kidney disease. The primary considerations include limiting sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and, depending on the disease stage, possibly even protein. 

snacks for renal diet popcorn veggies ricecakes
Snacks for renal diet

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Read the nutrition label

Reading the nutrition label when selecting a snack for kidney disease is crucial, as it provides valuable information to help manage and mitigate the progression of the disease. The label details the content of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein, which are of particular importance for those with kidney disease. Keeping sodium levels under control is essential to managing blood pressure and fluid balance. Potassium and phosphorus, even though they are necessary for body function, need to be limited because impaired kidneys can’t remove them efficiently, leading to dangerous levels in the blood. 

Additionally, depending on the stage of kidney disease, protein intake might need to be monitored. The nutrition label also provides information about the serving size, ensuring you are consuming an appropriate amount. By understanding and utilizing this information, individuals with kidney disease can make better-informed decisions about their snack choices, contributing to improved overall health.

Calories

If you are on a renal diet, the number of calories you should eat each day from snacks will largely depend on your total daily caloric intake, which is based on things like your age, gender, weight, height, and level of physical activity.

When it comes to snacking, you want something that will curb your hunger, but not be so filling that it spoils your main meals or piles on too many calories. A good ballpark figure for snack calories is somewhere between 150 and 250. To give you an idea, that’s like eating a medium-sized apple with a tablespoon of almond butter or half a cup of Greek yogurt with a handful of mixed berries. However, if you are reaching for pre-packaged snacks like chips, dried fruit, or nuts, make sure to check the nutrition label to see what is considered a single serving.

Remember, it’s not just about the number of calories, but the quality of those calories. Choosing nutrient-dense snacks that provide a mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats can help keep you satiated and provide sustained energy levels. 

Sodium

Whenever possible, choose a snack that has less than 140 mg of sodium per serving and definitely less than 20% of the daily value.

Potassium

Individuals dealing with kidney disease often face the challenge of maintaining balanced potassium levels, as they can easily swing too high or too low. To ensure your potassium levels stay within the target range, it may be necessary to monitor your daily potassium intake.

If your blood potassium levels are high (hyperkalemia), your healthcare provider might suggest reducing your consumption of foods rich in potassium. Choose snacks and foods that contain less than 200 mg of potassium per serving. Any food containing 200 mg or more of potassium per serving is considered a “high-potassium” food.

Also, check the ingredients list to make sure that the snack doesn’t contain any added potassium.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus can be found in a wide range of foods, including both plant-based and protein-rich animal-based foods. There are two types of phosphorus in our diet: organic, which occurs naturally in foods, and inorganic, which is found in food additives. 

Because phytates are difficult for our digestive system to break down, the phosphorus found in plant-based foods is not easily absorbed by your body. Only 10–30% of phosphorus from plant-based sources can be absorbed by your body. In contrast to this, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and eggs contain phosphorus, which your body can easily absorb.

About half of the phosphorus in our diet comes from natural sources such as plants, legumes, nuts, meats, and dairy. The other half comes from convenience foods like fast food and restaurant meals, which are typically high in phosphate additives. These additives are used to change the taste of foods and extend their shelf life. These phosphorus additives contribute nearly 500 mg of phosphorus per day to our diet. They are highly absorbable, with your body absorbing up to 90% of the phosphorus they provide.

The majority of food labels do not list phosphorus content. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires certain nutritional information to be listed on food labels, such as calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrates, phosphorus is not among these mandated nutrients.

However, phosphorus is often present in additives and preservatives in processed foods, and these ingredients will be listed. Look for ingredients with “phos” in the name, which typically indicate the presence of phosphorus. Some examples of phosphorus additives that are found in packaged foods include:

  • Dicalcium phosphate
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Monosodium phosphate
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Sodium tripolyphosphate
  • Sodium hexameta-phosphate
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Tetrasodium pyrophosphate

Learn about CKD Stage 3 and diet

how to choose snacks for renal diet
How to choose snacks for renal diet

Snacks for renal diet

Here are some of the snacks that you can include in your renal diet:

Apple slices with almond butter

Apples are low in potassium and phosphorus while almond butter provides healthy fats. Just ensure the almond butter is unsalted and free from additives.

Fresh Berries with Greek yogurt

Berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are also low in potassium and phosphorus. They can be eaten alone or paired with Greek yogurt or a non-dairy whipped topping which is usually lower in phosphorus than regular dairy products.

Rice cakes with cream cheese

Rice cakes are low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. They can be eaten plain or topped with a tablespoon of cream chease or low-sodium toppings like unsalted almond butter.

Unsalted Popcorn

Popcorn is a good source of fiber, just make sure it’s air-popped and free of added salt or has only little salt added to it.

Fresh veggie slices with hummus

Vegetables like red bell peppers and cucumbers are low in potassium and can be enjoyed with a small amount of unsalted hummus.

Edamame with Aleppo pepper

Edamame is such a great addition to a kidney diet. It is a plant-based protein that contains all the nine essential amino acids. Here is an easy edamame recipe for a snack for you that enjoy:

Serving: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup edamame in pods
  • 1/8 tsp Aleppo pepper

Instructions

  • Prepare the edamame by steaming it as per the instructions on the package. Once done, add a dash of pepper for seasoning. Serve.

Homemade Muffins

Whole grain muffins made with low phosphorus and potassium ingredients like blueberries, apples, or cranberries can be a good snack. Again, it’s important to control portion size to manage your protein intake.

Unsalted Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are packed with beneficial nutrients, including heart-friendly fats, omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols, fiber, plant protein, vitamin E, selenium, and calcium. They’re excellent at combatting inflammation and are rich in antioxidants.

The protein, fat, and fiber content of nuts and seeds can help keep your hunger at bay. However, they also contain potassium and phosphorus, so the quantity you should consume daily may depend on the stage of your kidney disease. For most individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or those who have had a kidney transplant, there’s generally no need to restrict the intake of nuts and seeds due to their potassium or phosphorus content.

A small serving of unsalted nuts or seeds like macadamia nuts, pecan halves, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds is usually okay for people with CKD.

Ricotta with sliced pears and honey

Ricotta is a kidney-friendly cheese that, when eaten with pears, is a perfect snack for people with kidney disease. Pears are low in potassium and can be eaten fresh or stewed with a small amount of cinnamon and honey for flavor. 

Low sodium whole grain crackers with cottage cheese

A kidney-friendly snack that is both tasty and nourishing is low-sodium whole grain crackers with cottage cheese. This combination provides the benefits of whole grains, which are rich in fiber and can help maintain a healthy digestive system. Additionally, the low sodium content ensures that you are not overloading your kidneys with excess sodium. Cottage cheese is a good source of lean protein and is lower in potassium and phosphorus compared to other dairy products. Plus, the creaminess of the cottage cheese is a tasty contrast to the crunchiness of the crackers, making this a healthy snack that aligns well with a kidney-friendly diet.

Roasted chickpeas

Chickpeas are a great source of fiber and plant-based protein. Here is an easy recipe to help you make as snack that is quick and easy:

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • Dash cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a paper towel, thoroughly dry the chickpeas and rub them to remove the skin. Place the chickpeas in a baking dish and drizzle some olive oil over them. Stir the chickpeas so that they are well coated with olive oil.
  • Bake the chickpeas, without covering, for about 20 minutes, giving them a stir halfway through. Remove them from the oven and give them another stir.
  • Season the chickpeas with paprika, salt, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper. Stir them for an even coating and put them back into the oven to continue roasting for another 12 to 14 minutes, or until they become dry and crispy – remember to stir once during this time.
  • Let the chickpeas to cool down completely before eating. If there are any leftovers, they can be stored in an airtight container overnight.

Snacks to limit or avoid on a renal diet

If you have kidney disease, it’s important to be mindful of your diet and limit certain snacks that may be high in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, or other substances that can be harmful to the kidneys. Here are a few snacks that you should consider limiting:

  • Processed and Packaged Snacks: Snacks like potato chips, pretzels, crackers, and commercially packaged cookies often contain high amounts of sodium. Excessive sodium intake can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure, which can be detrimental to kidney health.
  • Salted Nuts and Seeds: While nuts and seeds are generally healthy snacks, salted varieties can be high in sodium. Opt for unsalted or low-sodium options, and remember to consume them in moderation due to their phosphorus content.
  • Pickles and Pickled Foods: Pickles and other pickled foods, such as olives and sauerkraut, are high in sodium due to the pickling process. Excessive sodium intake from pickled foods can negatively impact kidney function and fluid balance.
  • Canned Soups and Snack Items: Canned soups, ramen noodles, and other pre-packaged snack items often contain high levels of sodium and preservatives. These can contribute to increased blood pressure and fluid retention, placing added stress on the kidneys.
  • Processed Meats: processed meats such as lunch meat or beef jerky often contain high levels of sodium, which can increase blood pressure and lead to fluid retention, putting additional strain on the kidneys. Secondly, these meats are often cured or preserved using phosphates, which can be harmful for individuals with compromised kidney function as excessive phosphorus intake can lead to mineral imbalances and contribute to bone and heart problems. 

Key takeaways

In conclusion, healthy snacks like fresh fruits (apples, berries, and pears), vegetables (bell peppers, cucumbers, and wax beans), and whole grains are often good choices. Unsalted versions of foods, such as rice cakes or unsalted nuts and seeds, are preferable due to their lower sodium content. High-protein snacks can be beneficial for those on dialysis, but protein intake should be moderated in the earlier stages of kidney disease. 

Steer clear of processed foods due to their high sodium levels and added preservatives. Reading food labels for hidden sodium, phosphorus, and potassium is crucial and can help you choose the right snacks for kidney disease. 

snacks for renal diet - roasted chickpeas - recipe card

11 Best Snacks for Renal Diet That Are Kidney Friendly

8f7236c9626d7dcca9cca39f75b7f03fArchana Singh, PhD
Here are 11 snacks that you can include in your renal diet. Also, learn how to account for sodium, potassium, and phosphorus in various snacks.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 can no-sodium chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper group
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a paper towel, thoroughly dry the chickpeas and rub them to remove the skin. Place the chickpeas in a baking dish and drizzle some olive oil over them. Stir the chickpeas so that they are well coated with olive oil.
  • Bake the chickpeas, without covering, for about 20 minutes, giving them a stir halfway through. Remove them from the oven and give them another stir.
  • Season the chickpeas with paprika, salt, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper. Stir them for an even coating and put them back into the oven to continue roasting for another 12 to 14 minutes, or until they become dry and crispy – remember to stir once during this time.
  • Let the chickpeas to cool down completely before eating. If there are any leftovers, they can be stored in an airtight container overnight.
Keyword healthy, Kidney Friendly, snacks for renal diet
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Are pears high in potassium?

No, pears are not considered to be high in potassium. In fact, pears are generally considered to be a low to moderate potassium fruit. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a medium-sized pear (about 178 grams) contains approximately 212 milligrams of potassium. This amount is relatively low compared to other potassium-rich fruits like bananas or oranges.

What fruit has the most potassium?

Several fruits are known for their high potassium content. Here are some fruits that are particularly rich in potassium:
Bananas: Bananas are often associated with high potassium levels. A medium-sized banana (about 118 grams) can provide approximately 400-450 milligrams of potassium.

Avocados: Avocados are not only rich in healthy fats but are also a great source of potassium. A medium-sized avocado (about 150 grams) contains around 700-800 milligrams of potassium.

Oranges: Oranges and other citrus fruits, such as grapefruits and tangerines, are packed with potassium. A medium-sized orange (about 154 grams) can provide around 230-250 milligrams of potassium.

Kiwis: Kiwis are small fruits with a vibrant green flesh and a sweet-tart taste. One medium-sized kiwi (about 148 grams) contains approximately 240-250 milligrams of potassium.

Dried Apricots: Dried apricots are a concentrated source of potassium. A quarter cup (about 35 grams) of dried apricots contains around 350-400 milligrams of potassium.

Prunes: Prunes, which are dried plums, are another fruit known for their high potassium content. Six dried prunes (about 40 grams) can provide around 290-300 milligrams of potassium.

Remember, while these fruits are rich in potassium, it’s essential to consider your overall dietary needs and any specific restrictions or recommendations given by your healthcare professional, especially if you have kidney disease or are on a potassium-restricted diet.

What food to avoid if you have high creatinine?

High creatinine levels might indicate impaired kidney function. To help manage and lower high creatinine levels, it is generally recommended to limit the following foods:

High-Protein Foods: Consuming excessive amounts of protein can increase creatinine levels. Limit your intake of red meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, and other protein-rich foods.
 
High-Potassium Foods: Foods that are high in potassium can put additional stress on your kidneys. Limit high-potassium foods such as bananas, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, and avocados. Be mindful of hidden sources of potassium, such as packaged foods and certain fruits and vegetables.

High-Phosphorus Foods: Elevated creatinine levels often coincide with impaired kidney function, which can result in difficulties in filtering and excreting phosphorus. Limit your intake of foods rich in phosphorus, including processed meats, pre-packaged snacks, and colas.

It’s crucial that you work closely with a healthcare provider who can provide personalized guidance, including your specific creatinine levels, kidney function, and overall health. 

Archana Singh, PhD

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