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25 Foods to Avoid With Kidney Disease


According to, there are few studies to show if herbal supplements have any real benefits—and even less studies conducted on their effects on kidney patients. As with any over-the-counter medication you plan on taking, always consult with your physician to make sure they are right for you.

Dried Beans and Lentils

Both of these can be high in phosphorus, so in order for a healthier lifestyle and to baby your kidneys, we suggest attempting to substitute them with tofu, sourgum, cauliflower florets, tempeh, mushrooms, or eggplant.


These are also likely to be high in phosphorus and dangerous to the overall function of a diseased kidney. Substituting unsalted popcorn for a snack or dry mustard for a condiment are much better alternatives for your diet.

Nuts and Peanut Butter

Both of these elements are high in potassium and phosphorus. Although you can substitute two tablespoons of peanut butter for a red meat, we suggest that you stay away from it as much as possible. A suitable substitution could be macadamia nuts, jams, jellies, honey, or margarine.

Pretzels, Chips, and Crackers

These items are all high in sodium, and chips made from potatoes will also be high in potassium. These snacks are also dangerous because it’s easy to overeat the suggested serving sizes. Try substituting unsalted popcorn and pretzels, corn or tortilla chips, instead.

Dates, Raisins, and Prunes

These are all dried fruits and therefore will have a higher concentration of potassium than any kidney patient should have. One cup of prunes can provide 1,274 mg of potassium, which is five times the normal amount found in their counterpart, the plum.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Including but not limited to: swiss chard, beet greens, collard greens, pumpkin, winter squash, and kale. These items all contain high amounts of potassium and should be avoided whenever possible—especially cooked. Half a cup of leafy green vegetables when cooked reduce to about one tablespoon. Eating half a cup of cooked greens will raise the potassium levels exponentially.

Premade Meals

On a regular diet, you might be okay with a sodium intake of 2,000 milligrams per day. However, on a kidney disease-based diet you would need to consult with your physician to find a healthy number based on your specific case. Regardless, premade meals such as soups, frozen dinners, fast foods, and other premade meals are extremely high in sodium. Rely instead on the regular homemade variety of meals so you can monitor your sodium intake.


Tomatoes are naturally high in potassium, so it’s important to try to avoid these. Try to find an alternative to tomato sauce in recipes such as red pepper sauce. As a substitute for fresh tomatoes, try instead onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, or garlic.


Potatoes are another vegetable that’s high in potassium. Avoid baked potatoes and French fries as these are too high in potassium no matter what. However, you can have mashed potatoes or hash browns if you soak your potatoes in water first for up to four hours, which reduces the amount of potassium.

Oranges and Orange Juice

We already know that oranges and pure orange juice have tons of potassium. There is more potassium in one 8 oz glass of orange juice than in one large orange. Instead of orange juice, why not try some cranberry juice—which is great for your kidney health!


Bananas, as well as cantaloupe, honeydew, grapefruit juice, and prune juice all have high concentrations of potassium in them. Healthy alternatives include apples, berries, grapes, peaches and pineapples.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a whole grain, and whole grains have a higher potassium and phosphorus content. For a substitution, try grits, white or wild rice, bulgar, buckwheat, pearled barley, couscous, and white or whole wheat pasta or macaroni.

Whole Wheat Bread

White bread is better for kidney disease patients. The more bran and whole grains in the bread, the higher the phosphorus and potassium levels.

Pickled Foods, Relishes, and Olives

Large amounts of sodium added during the pickling process make these a certain no-no in a kidney-healthy diet. Even the reduced-sodium varieties contain more sodium than a diseased kidney should contend with. It’s better to stay away from these foods altogether to promote healthy kidney filtration.

Specific Cereals

Of course, if whole grains are unhealthy for a diseased kidney, it stands to reason that cereals high in bran, wheat, oatmeal, and granola might be unhealthy as well. Especially with the added calcium in dairy products. Choose instead a nice warm bowl of grits or cornmeal.


These bad boys are chock-full of potassium. One baked yam can contain up to 541 milligrams of potassium. The double-cook method, also known as potassium leaching, can help a little. This involves soaking your yams, the same as potatoes, in water for up to four hours to reduce potassium levels.


Or any other dried fruit are just too high in potassium to be healthy for a diseased kidney. If one cup of fresh apricots equals 427 milligrams of potassium, dried apricots equals 1,500 milligrams. Try to stick to the list of healthy fruits mentioned in number 12 of this list.

Dairy Products

Dairy products have very high amounts of potassium, calcium (which contains phosphorus), and proteins, which means that for a person with a kidney disease these items must be avoided as much as possible. Try to substitute with unenriched rice milk, non dairy creamers, and sour cream without phosphate additives.


Avocados are a super-rich source of potassium. We wish we had some tasty alternatives to list here, but nothing can replace avocados in our hearts!

High-Sodium Condiments

Condiments such as ketchup, teriyaki, and soy sauce have really high sodium counts. Instead, try dry mustard, homemade dressings, or marinades for a flavor boost.

Canned Foods

This includes soups, fruits, and vegetables. They are all high in sodium (yes, even the fruits). Look instead for no-salt-added vegetables, a one-cup serving of low-sodium canned soups, or substitute with homemade soups, homemade casseroles, and fresh (or raw) veggies.

Red Meats

Although the recommended amounts of protein depend on the percentage of kidney function, it’s best to keep a close watch on your protein intake. Therefore, reduce the amount of red meats in your diet plan by substituting cooked chicken or fish, soy, tofu, or two tablespoons of peanut butter.

Processed Meats

Such as ham, bacon, sausage, deli meats, chicken tenders or nuggets are high in sodium. Try to incorporate low-sodium tuna, canned salmon, rotisserie chicken, hummus, and egg salad instead.

Dark-Colored Sodas

These sugary drinks are loaded down with phosphorus. Along with dark-colored sodas, you may also need to avoid certain lemonades, fruit-flavored waters, iced teas, and sugared juice-like drinks with 0% actual fruit. In addition, artificial sweeteners in diet sodas can increase kidney decline with a minimum of two diet drinks per day. Try instead flavored seltzer waters or as much regular water as possible.