Heart-Healthy Food Choices for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Patients

According to the National Kidney Association, the leading cause of death among patients with chronic kidney disease is heart disease. For this reason, kidney patients are routinely advised to follow a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends a heart-healthy diet that includes 4.5 cups of fruit and vegetables per day, whole grains and four servings of nuts, legumes and seeds 1. This dietary regiment conflicts with dietary restrictions for patients with advanced kidney disease who have to limit their intake of potassium and phosphorus; many heart-healthy choices contain large amounts of these minerals.

Low-Potassium Vegetables

According to the National Kidney Foundation, patients with chronic kidney disease can satisfy the vegetable requirements of a heart-healthy diet with small servings of asparagus, green beans, celery, peas, zucchini, onion, mushrooms and corn 23. Half-cup servings of these vegetables qualify as low-potassium foods.

Many other vegetables such as acorn squash, butternut squash, beets, broccoli should be avoided because they are high potassium foods.

Cooked carrots are a heart-healthy choice for patients with advanced kidney disease. Raw carrots, however are off limits because they contain too much potassium.

Low-Potassium Fruits

The National Kidney Foundation categorizes cherries, grapes, pineapple, tangerines, raspberries and strawberries as low-potassium foods 23.

Fruits such as bananas, melons of all kinds, mangoes, oranges and dried fruits contain too much potassium and should be avoided by patients with advanced kidney disease.

Leached Potatoes

Some high-potassium foods such as potatoes and sweet potatoes can be enjoyed by patients with advanced chronic kidney disease if the potassium is leached out of them. The National Kidney Foundation recommends cutting the potatoes into small pieces and soaking them for several hours in ten times their volume of warm water 23. After soaking, the potatoes should be rinsed and cooked in a large volume of freshly drawn water.

Low-Phosphorus Foods

Most foods naturally contain some phosphorus, and phosphates added to foods to extend their shelf life add more. Milk, hard cheese, beer, dried beans, peas, nuts, nut butters, cocoa and dark colored-sodas contain a lot of phosphorus, and should be avoided by kidney patients whose serum phosphorus levels are high. The National Kidney Foundation recommends that kidney patients replace milk in coffee with nondairy creamer, replace dried beans with green beans, hard cheeses with low-fat cream cheeses and ice cream with sorbet or a fruit Popsicle, all of which are heart-healthy alternatives 23.