Foods You Need to Avoid If You Have Kidney Disease

Your kidneys are bean-shaped organs that perform many important functions.

They’re in charge of filtering blood, removing waste through urine, producing hormones, balancing minerals and maintaining fluid balance.

There are many risk factors for kidney disease. The most common are uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure.

Alcoholism, heart disease, hepatitis C virus and HIV infection are also causes.

When the kidneys become damaged and are unable to function properly, fluid can build up in the body and waste can accumulate in the blood.

However, avoiding or limiting certain foods in your diet may help decrease the accumulation of waste products in the blood, improve kidney function and prevent further damage.


1. Dark-Colored Colas

As one of the foods to avoid in kidney disease, colas are a drink no doubt but they contain additive phosphorous one of the main kidney disease foods to avoid. In addition, colas contain calories and additives all bad for the kidney. Additive phosphorous is absorbed faster in our body than natural phosphorous which is why you need to avoid it completely.

2. Avocados

Yes, avocados are a healthy ingredient but not for kidneys and are considered foods bad for kidneys because they are high in potassium that will put a load on the filtering process of the kidneys. Just 1 cup of avocado contains 727 mg of potassium double that of a banana. Avocados including guacamole need to be avoided in kidney disease.

3. Canned Foods

Canned foods include soups, veggies, tuna, meats and beans and although they cost less, they are among foods bad for kidneys. This is because of the high sodium content due to salt being added as a preservative for longer shelf life. What you can do is to look for low sodium or no added salt varieties. To remove salt in canned foods, drain and rinse them thoroughly. This decreases salt content considerably.

4. Whole-Wheat Bread

While whole wheat bread is usually recommended as a healthy nutritious choice over refined flour bread, it isn’t the same for those with kidney disease. The main reason is the high potassium and phosphorous content because more bran in bread means more potassium and phosphorous making brown bread one of the foods bad for kidney disease. A 30 gram serving of whole wheat bread contains 57 mg of phosphorous and 69 mg of potassium whereas white bread contains only 28 mg of both.

5. Bananas

Among foods to avoid for kidney disease, sadly banana a favorite among many is one. Bananas are low in sodium but high in potassium with one banana containing 422 mg of potassium. Regular consumption of bananas will make it tough to maintain the daily limit of potassium within 2000 mg. While other tropical fruits contain high potassium, pineapples are relatively low and can be a good substitute.

6. Dairy

Dairy products vitamin and nutrient-rich no doubt but they are among foods bad for kidneys because of high protein and potassium content. 1 cup of whole milk yields 222 mg of phosphorus and 349 mg of potassium. This can impact bone health in those suffering kidney disease. A build-up of phosphorous in the blood in kidney disease will result in a gradual thinning and weakening of bones over time increasing the risk of fractures and broken bones.

7. Oranges and Orange Juice

Oranges are a rich source of vitamin C no doubt but they are among foods to avoid in kidney disease again because of the potassium. Just 1 orange contains 333 mg of potassium and 1 cup of orange juice contains 473 mg of potassium. Good substitutes are grapes, apples, and cranberries.

8. Processed Meats

Processed meats are bad even for healthy people. Such foods bad for kidney disease have been linked to renal problems and considered unhealthy because of preservatives. Processed meats include salted dried and cured meats, hot dogs, bacon, pepperoni, jerky and sausage. All of these contain a large amount of protein and also salt to enhance taste but dangerous for kidneys.

9. Pickles, Olives and Relish

These are cured foods that contain excessive salt that are harsh on damaged kidneys. One pickle spear can contain in excess of 300 mg of sodium. Processed olives are also salty with five pieces yielding 195 mg of sodium being the daily amount in only a small serving. You could try and locate low sodium varieties and watch the portions.

10. Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Both are rich in potassium where one medium baked potato contains 610 mg of potassium and one sweet potato contains 541 mg of potassium. Consider leeching or soaking thee potatoes to reduce the potassium content. You can also cut the potatoes in thin slices and boil them for ten minutes to reduce the potassium by 50%. Leeching is soaking the potato in water for at least four hours prior to cooking to reduce potassium content.

11. Tomatoes

Tomatoes also consist of high potassium not suitable for a real diet. As one of the foods bad for kidneys, one cup of tomatoes, contains more than 900 mg of potassium which isn’t advisable. One can substitute tomato for roasted red pepper sauce which is low in potassium.

12. Dates, Raisins and Prunes are Common Dried Fruits

Dried fruits contain more potassium than fresh ones making them foods bad for kidney disease. Just one cup of prunes yields 1274 mg of potassium. Four dates provide 668 mg of potassium. A renal diet is better of without these items to ensure healthier levels of potassium.

13. Pretzels, Chips and Crackers

These are ready to eat snack and completely among foods to avoid in kidney disease. They lack nutrients and high in sodium content. The problem with eating such foods is that they tend to be addictive and one can end up eating more than they should. Potato chips are a double whammy since potatoes too are high on potassium. When suffering from kidney disease, its best to avoid these foods completely.

It may be difficult maintaining a renal diet but one needs to make a commitment for the sake of one’s health. Always consult a nutritionist or a doctor who will advise you the best diet depending on the stage of kidney disease.