Renal Diet Grocery List: What to Buy According to A Dietitian

Revitalize Your Renal Diet: A Vibrant Grocery List for Kidney Health

Are you looking to transform your mundane grocery list into an exciting list that is efficient and meeting your budget?

Are you planning your meal for the week and need a list to help guide your shopping trips?

You come to the right place! Without further ado, let’s jump into it. 

Superfoods for Kidney Health

Lately I’ve been hearing more and more people using the term Superfoods. So what are Superfoods in the renal diet? It is basically food that is nutrient-dense and provides essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds while being mindful of the dietary restrictions often associated with kidney conditions. Meaning focused on managing phosphorus, potassium, and sodium intake. 

Here’s a sample of a simple SUPERFOOD grocery shopping list for a renal diet.

Proteins

One of the most important macros in the renal diet is protein. Animal protein or High Biological Value (HBV) protein can be found in meat, fish, poultry. HBV has about 7.0 grams of protein per ounce (milk has 4 grams per half-cup). 

Plant-based protein is minimally processed food, and it has almost the same amount of protein. Plant-based protein can be found in tofu and tempeh (soybean based), seitan, beans, lentils, and nuts, also in whole grains like quinoa and amaranth. 

  • Skinless poultry (chicken or turkey breast)
  • Lean cuts of beef or pork
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, tilapia)
  • Eggs
  • Tofu or tempeh
  • Low-phosphorus dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese in moderation)

Fresh Produce

Moving on to fresh produce.

When selecting fresh produce for a renal diet, it’s important to consider the potassium and phosphorus content, as these minerals can impact kidney health. Choosing fresh produce for a renal-friendly diet mainly needs to be low in potassium. 

Read Labels if you are purchasing packaged or canned produce, check the labels for added preservatives or salt. Opt for products with no added salts or choose fresh produce when possible.

Freshness DO Matters. Choose fresh fruits and veggies that are in season and look vibrant. Freshness is a sign for maximum nutritional value.

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • Apples
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon
  • Grapes
  • Cauliflower
  • Bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Cabbage
  • Red and green beans
  • Kale or spinach
  • Radishes

Grains and Carbohydrates

The key in choosing grains and carbs in renal diet lies in limiting portion sizes and avoiding high phosphorus and potassium content. Here are some grains and carbohydrates that can be suitable for a renal diet:

  • White bread
  • White Rice (White rice is a lower-phosphorus option compared to brown rice and is a good source of energy)
  • Pasta (Opt for pasta made from refined white flour, as it tends to be lower in phosphorus compared to whole grain or whole wheat varieties)
  • Quinoa
  • Oats (Oats are a good choice for a renal diet, especially if they are not instant oats)
  • Corn and rice cereals (Choose cereals made from corn or rice, as they tend to be lower in phosphorus)
  • White flour for baking

Healthy Fats

Cooking Olive Oil Image

Healthy fats keep your heart healthy and your brain sharp. Healthy fat adds richness to food while being mindful of phosphorus and sodium levels. It’s always smart to be cautious on how much fat (even good fat) you use and eat. So always cook with less oil than a recipe calls for.

  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Corn oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil

Beverages

Renal diet mainly restricts fluid. Kidney patients need to be very mindful of how much fluid they consume. On top of that, choosing beverages with lower levels of phosphorus, potassium, and sodium is crucial. 

Avoid powdered drinks such as Tang, Koolaid Powder and Powdered lemonades and energy drink. Also stay away from coconut water and sports drinks including Gatorade and vitamin water. These drinks may include additional minerals such as phosphorus, and potassium that kidney patients actually need to get rid off.

  • Herbal teas (no added sugar) such as Pure Leaf unsweetened tea
  • Water
  • 100% juice (limit portion size) such as cranberry, apple or grape juice
  • Ginger Ale
  • Sprite
  • Seltzer water or flavored sparkling water

Snacks and Desserts (in moderation = ½ cup per serving)

Making healthy choices in snacks is a BIG part of the renal diet. These ready to go snacks can come in handy when you need to snack on while doing treatment or on the road. Be sure to check out my Renal Diet Snack Tips.

In moderation as above is considered to be ½ cup of serving size. Too much snacks can make you thirsty, lead to more drinking, lead to fluid overload and stress your heart. 

  • Rice cakes
  • Popcorn (no butter)
  • Unsalted crackers
  • Unsalted pretzels
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Sorbet or sherbet (low potassium), or make it your own
  • Gelatin cups
  • Baby carrots packs
  • Dried fruit chips
  • Mixed fruit cups (no added sugar)

Condiments and Flavorings

I encourage dry spices and no added seasonings in the renal diet. Fresh herbs from your garden can complement your dish. I personally like this article on guide to fresh herbs by food network that pairs well with meat.

  • Fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil)
  • Garlic powder (instead of garlic salt)
  • Onion powder (instead of onion salt)
  • Low-sodium salad dressing
  • Vinegar (white or apple cider)

Dairy Alternatives

When choosing dairy alternatives for renal diet, many concerns in choosing which options that are lower in phosphorus and potassium. 

  • Rice milk (naturally low in phosphorus and potassium)
  • Almond milk (low in phosphorus)
  • Soy milk (calcium fortified)
  • Non-dairy creamer (low in phosphorus)

Avoid or Limit

  • High-potassium vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes)
  • High-potassium fruits (bananas, oranges, kiwi)
  • Processed and canned foods (often high in sodium)
  • Nuts and seeds (high in phosphorus)
  • Chocolate and cocoa products (high in phosphorus)

Beyond the Aisles

Managing a healthy kidney and keeping up with a renal diet involves not only dietary considerations but also various lifestyle factors.

Tips on lifestyle changes to help maintain your kidney health are: healthy weight by exercising regularly, managing blood pressure, limiting alcohol, quitting smoking, educating yourself and building a supporting network of family and friends to share your concerns and successes is a major help managing your kidney health.

This grocery list and  lifestyle tips are general guidelines, and individual recommendations may vary based on specific health conditions. Always consult with your healthcare provider and a registered dietitian nutritionist for personalized advice tailored to your unique needs and circumstances.

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