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- National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: The Kidneys and How They Work
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Potassium
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Kidneys are responsible for removing waste from the blood and excreting it through the urine. Kidneys process approximately 200 quarts of blood each day, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website 1. Fruits and vegetables can often help improve kidney function. Consult your physician or a registered dietitian before making any dietary changes.
When you have kidney damage, diet can play an important role in how the kidney functions. If your kidneys are having trouble filtering out nutrients from your blood, your body can develop toxic levels of some nutrients. In cases of mild to severe kidney damage, the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse recommends avoiding foods high in potassium, which some fruits and vegetables contain 1. However, fruits and vegetables often contain high levels of essential vitamins and antioxidants -- substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are molecules produced by your body or the environment that can damage cells and play a role in the development of disease, inflammation and infections. Essential vitamins and antioxidants are often key to improving kidney function and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in dialysis patients and those with kidney disease.
Apples are high in antioxidants and relatively low in potassium. Apples are also high in fiber and have anti-inflammatory compounds, which can improve kidney function. All types of berries are rich in phytonutrients, nutrients from plants that have protective compounds, according to Davita.com, a website of DaVita HealthCare Partners. Berries, such as blueberries, cranberries and strawberries, are also low in potassium and high in antioxidants. Red grapes and cherries are also healthy fruits for good kidney function.
Many vegetables can help improve kidney function, as long as they are low in potassium, according to Davita.com. Red bell peppers, for example, are a good source of the antioxidant vitamins C and A, as well as B-6, folate, fiber and the antioxidant lycopene. Cabbage contains phytonutrients that help break up free radicals and prevent certain diseases. Cauliflower is high in vitamin C and fiber and contains compounds that can help improve kidney functioning. Onions are also high in antioxidants. All these vegetables are low in potassium.
Foods to Avoid
You may need to avoid certain foods if you have kidney damage. Talk to your physician or dietitian about specific foods that you should not eat. People with kidney damage may need to limit the amount of protein they eat. In addition to potassium, sodium and phosphorous are other minerals that can worsen kidney problems. Bananas, oranges and dried fruits are high in potassium. Vegetables with high potassium levels include tomatoes, spinach, artichoke and acorn squash.
Cauliflower is high in vitamin C and fiber and contains compounds that can help improve kidney functioning. Apples are also high in fiber and have anti-inflammatory compounds, which can improve kidney function. red sweet peppers on wood background Many vegetables can help improve kidney function, as long as they are low in potassium, according to Davita.com.
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