Daily Fruits and Veggies May Help Kidney Health

People with kidney concerns often avoid eating large amounts of fruits or vegetables, worried about high potassium levels. But, it is well documented that eating “green foods” improves health and extends lifespan. Researchers wanted to know if eating plants harmed or helped people with kidney problems.

In an eight-year study, researchers found that eating fruit and vegetables daily may reduce all-cause mortality in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The study, which took place in Japan, looked at 2,006 outpatients at a hospital between 2008 and 2016. In the group, 902 had CKD, 131 had CKD and were on dialysis. Over the course of the study, 561 patients died.

Everyone in the study had essentially the same baseline serum potassium levels. That means their diet wasn’t impacting their potassium levels. The researchers divided people into three groups: people who never or rarely ate plants, those who sometimes did and those who ate them daily. Regardless of whether or not someone was on dialysis, eating fruits and vegetables daily appeared to improve their lifespan.  

This study shows that people with CKD shouldn’t shy away from green foods. However, it is important to know the potassium levels in foods. Fruits like berries, plums and apples are low in potassium and high in fiber. They can aid your blood sugar, digestive health and potentially your kidneys. But, on the other hand, oranges, apricots and some dried fruits are incredibly high in potassium, and you should avoid them. And, while “leafy greens” are usually a health food darling, they are also very high in potassium and better avoided. Instead, pick things like cauliflower, eggplant and onions.

When we have health concerns, it’s easy to become frustrated. You can start to focus on the “cannots” instead of the “cans.” You can eat an awful lot of fruits and vegetables. Not only can you enjoy them, but they are also beneficial! Sit down with your doctor or nutritionist and have a discussion. There may be a ton of foods you have excluded from your diet that are safe, healthy and delicious!

Fruits and veggies are often vilified when it comes to protecting kidneys. However, knowing which ones have potassium can help you enjoy a diet rich in plants. And that may help you live a long, healthier life!  

Banner image: Susanne Jutzeler via Pexels

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