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The Renal Diet for Those with Kidney Issues

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 30, 2022

The Renal Diet for Those with Kidney Issues

People suffering from decreased kidney functions may be advised to change their diet. What is the renal diet food list and who is it for? Find out in this article.

What Is the Renal Diet?

Before we discuss the renal diet food list, let’s first review the main function of the kidney.

  • When we eat food, we accumulate toxic or excess materials that we need to expel out of our bodies.
  • The kidneys help remove these toxic waste by filtering the blood and releasing the toxins through urine.
  • However, if our kidneys are compromised, it means that they do not filter blood as effectively as healthy kidneys do.
  • To decrease the burden on the kidneys, a person may be advised to shift his normal diet to a renal diet.

In essence, the renal diet is a type of diet that has decreased sodium, potassium, and phosphorus content. It focuses on consuming high-quality protein and possibly, limiting a person’s fluid intake.

It is recommended to anyone who has compromised kidney functions, but especially for those with chronic kidney disease and those undergoing dialysis.

The Renal Diet Food List

In this section, we will discuss what a person who’ i following a renal diet can eat and what must be limited and avoided. Before we begin, please remember that formulating a renal diet is best done with the advice of your doctor.


Potassium is an important mineral to ensure that our muscles, including the heart, are working well. An insufficiency of potassium poses a great risk to a person’s health. At times, it can even make people collapse.

This is why even in the renal diet food list, the patient needs to ensure that they are getting adequate potassium. They just have to control their consumption by up to 2,000 mg per day.

What to Eat

These foods have low potassium content:

  • Apples, grapes, strawberries, and pineapples
  • Onions, pepper, sayote, radish
  • White bread, pita, and tortilla
  • White rice
  • Chicken and beef

What to Limit or Avoid

These foods have high potassium content:

  • Bananas
  • Orange juice
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Avocados
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Oranges
  • Prune juice
  • Chocolates
  • Black, red, and white beans
  • Milk (limit to 8 oz per day)


When you consume too much sodium, you may feel more thirsty than usual. Additionally, it can cause unnecessary accumulation of water that could raise your blood pressure and make the heart work harder. Moreover, too much sodium is also harmful to the kidneys. Junk food, fast food, and processed food are high in sodium.

Since most foods have sodium in them, references do not recommend foods with low sodium content. Rather, in the renal diet food list, they give some reminders to ensure that the sodium intake is well-controlled.


  • In cooking, use fresh herbs and salt-free spices. Do not add salt.
  • Use fresh vegetables instead of canned or frozen ones. If you need to use canned veggies, do not forget to drain and rinse them properly.
  • Avoid processed and canned meats.
  • Instead of eating salty snacks and crackers, munch on fresh fruits.
  • Avoid canned soups and instant noodles.


Phosphorus or phosphate works together with vitamin D and calcium to promote bone health. When the kidneys are compromised, excess phosphorus stays in the blood. This could result in weak bones that could easily break. Try to limit your phosphorus to 1,000 mg daily.

What to Eat

In the renal diet food list, the following foods have low phosphorus content:

  • Rice or corn cereals
  • Unsalted popcorn
  • Lemonade

What to Limit or Avoid

The following have high phosphorus content:

  • Refrigerator dough
  • Black, red, and white beans
  • Whole or unrefined grains, such as whole-grain bread
  • Dried fruit and vegetables
  • Dark-colored sodas
  • Chocolates
  • Nuts and sunflower seeds
  • Meat, poultry, fish and dairy (just have 1 serving of 7 to 8 ounces)
  • Protein

    As mentioned earlier, the renal diet food list focuses on high-quality protein. You cannot totally remove it from your diet since it is essential in body repair and health maintenance.


    • It is advisable to have 7 to 8 ounces of protein in a day.
    • However, the amount may change when you talk to your doctor as they may consider your height and weight.
    • To estimate, an egg approximately has one ounce; meat the size of a normal deck of cards has about 3 ounces.

    Good Options for Protein Source

    The following are good protein sources:

    • Fresh meat and poultry
    • Fresh fish without bones, like tuna, salmon, and cod
    • Eggs
    • Plant-based proteins

    renal diet food list

    Fluid Intake

    In the renal diet food list, people with compromised kidney functions must also be cautious with their fluids. Although it is important to be well-hydrated, you need to check the amount you take in. This is because damaged kidneys do not get rid of excess fluids as effectively as healthy ones. Additionally, you must also think about your fluid sources.


    • The doctor will typically tell you about the correct measurement for your fluid intake.
    • Should you be advised to limit your fluid intake, do not just take note of what you drink. You must also take note of foods that melt, such as Jelly, and the water you use in cooking.
    • To quench your thirst without adding too much fluid in your system, you can try to chew gum, rinse your mouth, or suck on ice.

    Good Options for Fluid Source

    • Water, including tap and bottled.
    • Light-colored, fizzy drinks, such as lemonade
    • Caffeinated and decaffeinated tea
    • For alcohol, it is best to talk to your doctor, but the better options are gin, vodka, and whiskey.

    Key Takeaways

    Since each person – even those with the same kidney condition – is different, the list may also change. What may work for others may not be the best for you, so it is best to talk to a doctor regarding your diet.

    Most people who have kidney problems feel that their food choices are considerably narrowed down. But the truth is, there are a lot of kidney-friendly foods in the renal diet food list.

    Learn more about Healthy Eating here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Chris Icamen

    Dietetics and Nutrition

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 30, 2022

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