Foods Good for Kidneys: Fruits, Dates, and Vegetables


  • Kidneys are responsible for filtering your blood and other waste products.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and have good sleeping habits to keep a healthy kidney. 
  • Vegetables and fruits like dates can help in protecting your kidneys from various illnesses.

You may have known that you have kidneys. However, maybe the only thing some people know is that it is inside of us. It is important to know what a kidney is and how it works. We also need to know how to spot any signs of kidney disease. Finding and eating foods for kidney health, including dates, can be a great way to help prevent these diseases. In this article, we will cover all that you need to know!

What are Kidneys?

You have two kidneys in your body. These are two bean-shaped organs. They are not very big, and they are under the rib cage, one on each side. The kidney is responsible for filtering your blood. It also removes the waste products and extra water your body makes. These in turn are released as urine. This same urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder. This is where it is stored until you’re ready to release them!

Kidneys are extremely important. Without them, your body would be overwhelmed with waste products and extra fluid. The kidney will also remove acid produced by your body cells. It also keeps the balance between the minerals and water in your body. The minerals include sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

Other important functions of the kidneys include:

  • Removing drugs from your body
  • Making red blood cells
  • Releasing hormones to control blood pressure
  • Producing the active form of vitamin D to keep healthy bones

How Kidneys Work?

Your kidneys are made up of about one million filtering units. We call these units nephrons. The nephron contains a glomerulus, which is a filter, and a tubule.

The nephrons work in the following way:

  1. The glomerulus filters the blood: through its thin wall, this part of the nephron allows small molecules, water, waste, and fluid to pass into the tubule. The large molecules, like protein and blood cells, stay in the blood vessels.
  2. The tubule filters out waste and returns the substances your body needs. The tubule will return the minerals and nutrients you need while allowing the rest of the fluid and waste to become urine.

Signs of Kidney Damage and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Certain things can affect your kidney health. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. For the most part, damage to the kidney will be silent. It won’t show signs or symptoms until later stages. In the early stages of kidney damage or chronic kidney disease, your body can compensate. Therefore, an individual will not know unless there are tests performed. These will help find signs of kidney damage.

Warning signs of kidney damage include:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Blood and/or protein in the urine
  3. Out of the ordinary creatinine or blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels
  4. A glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 60 or less
  5. More frequent urination, especially at night, and difficult or painful urination
  6. Edema in the hands and feet and swelling under the eyes
  7. Weight loss and lack of appetite
  8. Tiredness

If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, you may be at risk for kidney disease. Therefore, we recommend that you immediately see your doctor.

How to Keep a Kidney Healthy?

Keeping your healthy kidneys involves following a kidney-friendly diet. We also recommend finding a balance in your lifestyle. We must try to maintain a good weight and good sleeping habits. Finding ways to lower your stress and exercise is a good idea. This will lead to you feeling better overall.

There are a few things everyone can do to make sure that their kidneys remain healthy:

  • Choose healthy foods. You do not necessarily have to follow the kidney diet. However, we recommend choosing foods that improve kidney function. This means eating fresh foods and whole grains. Choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy, foods that have reduced sodium, and non-processed foods is also a good start.
  • Be active for at least 30 minutes every day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
  • Achieve a healthy weight. This might mean losing weight for those that are overweight. It could also mean maintaining a healthy weight. 
  • Sleep at least 7 hours every night. We recommend aiming for 8 hours when possible.
  • Limit alcohol intake. The CDC recommends limiting it to two drinks a day for men and one drink for women.
  • Manage your blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce stress.

Diet for a Healthy Kidney

Like mentioned above, not everyone needs to follow a kidney disease diet. You might not need to limit yourselves to only foods for kidney infection. However, there are some benefits to following this specific diet.

A diet for kidney health focuses on low sodium, low phosphorus, and the right amount of potassium. It makes sure that you eat heart-healthy foods that have the right amount of protein. These values are all individualized: it may depend on what stage of kidney disease a person may be.

For the most part, individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) will have to lower their protein intake. This is because their kidneys cannot work at the same rate. It may be difficult to filter byproducts of protein metabolism. However, if a person is on dialysis, the protein intake of the patient must be higher. This is due to the excess filtration that occurs during this process. As for sodium, less than 2,000mg a day is recommended for all stages of CKD. Phosphorus and potassium will vary depending on the individual’s lab work and results.

Eating healthy vegetables, fruits, and dates can be a good way to keep your kidneys working more optimally. What are the best things to consume for your kidneys? Do not worry, we will give you all the details below. 

Which Foods are Bad for the Kidneys?

There is evidence that a kidney-friendly diet should be highly individualized. However, there are still some things you can do to protect your kidneys. Remember that there are also foods that are bad for everyone in excess.

For the most part, you should try to focus on foods low in sodium. This means avoiding processed foods, such as fast food and pre-packaged foods. You should also avoid foods that are too high in potassium. This includes chocolate, peanut butter, full-fat milk, and beans. Phosphorus should also be limited. Therefore, we recommend limiting organ meat, chocolate, beer, and dark colas.

In some cases, you may have to reduce your protein intake. This means you must only consume lean meats. Calcium is not always limited. However, there are some people that may need to watch out how much calcium they consume as well.

Kidney-Friendly Superfoods

A superfood contains many nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. It is also high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Your diet to improve kidney function should include some kidney-friendly superfoods! These include your apples, blueberries, and spinach.  We also recommend sweet potatoes, dates, and kale. Make sure to stock up on fruits and food that are high in omega 3 fatty acids. 

So which foods help your kidneys? The best diet for kidneys should include the following superfoods:

  • Apples: This fruit is a good source of soluble fiber. This means it can lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. The peel in your apple also contains a powerful antioxidant called quercetin. This helps protect your cells from oxidative damage, including your kidneys. Apples also contain vitamin C. This acts as an antioxidant and keeps your tissues healthy.
  • Blueberries: Whether fresh or frozen, this fruit is a powerful antioxidant. They reduce the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cognitive decline. This fruit also contains phytochemicals. These are great at preventing inflammation as well.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: The best source for omega 3 fatty acids is fish. This nutrient is not only essential for body functions. It is also an evident anti-inflammatory! It can help lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Kale and spinach: Both of these green vegetables are high in nutrients. These include vitamin A, C, E, K, and folate. The beta-carotene in these vegetables acts as an antioxidant. It also helps keep your eyes healthy. However, these two vegetables are high in potassium. Therefore, it may not always suit the renal diet. If you have kidney disease, make sure to consult your doctor before adding them to your diet.
  • Sweet potatoes: These tubers are full of vitamins. They are rich in vitamin A, C, B6, and potassium. If your condition requires a low-potassium diet you can boil the potatoes beforehand to help reduce the potassium levels. This vegetable also contains fiber and antioxidants. All of these treat CKD.

Dates to Protect Your Kidneys

Dates are considered superfoods. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that dates can help protect your kidneys! The date fruit has various health benefits. This includes protecting your liver and your kidneys. On the other hand, dates are high in phytochemicals too. This means they can help protect against cell damage and inflammation. They may also protect your kidneys and help them retain their function.

Evidence has shown that the date seed extract is a powerful non-enzymatic defense. It can help go against oxidative damage in the liver and the kidneys. Using this oil can help eliminate hydrogen peroxide, peroxyl, and hydroxyl radicals. These are dangerous free radicals that damage your cells. The date seed oil can be a very healthy way to prevent cell damage in your kidneys. It will allow them to reduce inflammation effectively and continue filtering out waste products.

Furthermore, dates contain melatonin, vitamin E, and ascorbic acid. These have been shown to be nephroprotective. Therefore, combining dates with foods high in vitamin E and C could work in reducing kidney damage.

Finally, potassium may be limited in some patients with chronic kidney disease. However, adding dates to the diet has been shown not to cause any damage. In these studies, patients undergoing dialysis were chosen. They also included those without hyperkalemia (a disease where they have higher potassium levels in the blood). It was found that consuming dates did not increase their potassium levels. Therefore, dates may be considered protective of the kidneys.

Which foods help kidneys? As you can see, most healthy foods for the kidneys are vegetables and fruits. For the most part, your diet should be high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Foods good for kidneys include dates, apples, spinach, omega 3 fatty acids, and more. We recommend focusing on consuming nutrients that help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage. This is the right way to reduce the risk of kidney damage and chronic kidney disease.

Summary

Foods good for kidneys are fruits and vegetables. However, knowing which ones to consume can make all the difference. Make sure to limit sodium and fat. We also recommend focusing on antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It is always a good idea to consume whole grains, lean protein, and dates. Eating green leafy vegetables and food high in omega 3 fatty acids is a good idea too!

Scientific Information

  • Nephron – one of millions of filtering units in your kidneys. 

  • Glomerulus– a part of the nephron in charge of filtering blood. 

  • Tubule– a part of the nephron in charge of returning substances your body needs to your blood and also removing wastes. 

  • Superfood – a food high in nutrition value, with nutrients that are very bioavailable for your body to absorb. 

  • Antioxidant – compounds that help fight free radicals, chemicals, and harmful toxins that cause damage to the body.

  • Phytochemical – a compound in plants, fruits, and vegetables that can provide desirable health benefits.

Written by:

Juliana Tamayo, MS

Nutritionist

Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian
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