10 foods that are good for the kidneys: what they are and how they help

The kidneys are delicate organs, whose well-being is of extreme importance: let’s see 10 foods that can help keep them healthy.

The kidneys are very important organs located in the abdominal cavity, in the posterior area. They are responsible for filtering the blood, a crucial process that allows waste substances to be removed through the production of urine. In addition, the kidneys maintain the balance between solutes and fluids in the body and regulate blood pressure. Furthermore, these organs produce certain hormones and the active form of vitamin D.

Chronic kidney diseases can have a heavy impact on the quality of life of patients, sometimes degenerating into irreversible chronic renal failure: this requires a targeted intervention on lifestyle and eating habits, to be combined with the periodic control of some blood parameters (the high creatinine, for example, can be a wake-up call).

Here are some general nutrition tips to follow in order to preserve the health of these organs. Next, 10 specific foods and their usefulness in maintaining kidney health over the long term will be described.

What is good for the kidneys? What is good for healthy kidneys?

Generally speaking, the Mediterranean model is suitable for safeguarding the health of these organs. Therefore, it is possible to consume cereals (including whole grains) and pseudocereals every day, but also legumes (lentils, chickpeas, lupins, etc.) several times a week. As far as animal protein sources are concerned, it is important to prefer white meats and fresh or frozen fish, to be consumed, in both cases, a couple of times a week.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables provide many antioxidants, undoubtedly important in preserving renal well-being, as well as several useful micronutrients, such as vitamin C and vitamin B6. For this reason they are widely recommended. Nuts and oil seeds can be eaten, albeit in moderation. The same goes for olive oil, which must be consumed raw and in the right portions. In this regard, all alimony must be quantified according to the individual person, for the purpose of a correct distribution of macronutrients and an adequate caloric intake. Furthermore, the consumption of food must be associated with a sufficient intake of water, favoring the stimulus of thirst.

It is well known that hypertension is associated, in the long run, with renal failure: based on this correlation, a diet rich in sodium is bad for the kidneys. It is therefore a good idea to limit the additions of table salt and, in general, the consumption of all foods that contain it in excess. These include cured meats, sausages and pickled foods, but also aged cheeses, sauces (eg mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, etc.) and stock cubes. To reduce the consumption of crackers, bread sticks, chips, etc., as well as red meats and canned fish.

Those predisposed to the formation of kidney stones must also limit the intake of oxalates (contained, for example, in beets, spinach and cocoa) and, in the case of uric acid stones, the consumption of foods containing purines (eg.: anchovies, sardines, pork, asparagus, etc.).

10 foods for kidney health

Once the general guidelines on the diet have been considered, it may be useful to go into more detail and describe the peculiarities of some foods. Here are 10 commonly used ones that have been found to be effective in preserving kidney health.

1. Waterfall

Rich in minerals, water can be defined as a real food. It is placed at the base of the food pyramid, performing various functions within the body and contributing to the daily intake of mineral salts. Among other things, the consumption of water participates in the elimination of harmful substances and metabolic waste. In addition, drinking enough water prevents kidney stones from forming and relapses. Overall, daily water consumption is renoprotective.

How much water to consume every day? The quantities needed vary depending on some factors, such as gender and age, but also lifestyle, levels of physical activity and climate. In general, two liters of water are an excellent compromise for a healthy adult, although, as mentioned above, it is important to indulge the thirst.

2. Radishes

These wonderful products of the earth, with a peculiar flavor and crunchy texture, belong to the cruciferous family (the same as broccoli, rocket, broccoli, etc.). These are low-calorie and water-rich vegetables, as well as having an interesting composition. They provide mineral salts and vitamins, such as potassium and vitamin C, but also bioactive components, such as isothiocyanates and carotenoids. Radishes are among the foods useful in preserving the health of the kidneys, as they have marked purifying and antioxidant properties.

Based on the guidelines for the consumption of vegetables, a standard portion of radishes corresponds to about 200 g of the food, to be alternated with other seasonal vegetables.

3. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are oil seeds with interesting properties. In this regard, they are composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids, vegetable proteins and fiber, but also of mineral salts (potassium, magnesium, zinc) and vitamins (B vitamins, vitamin E). There is also no lack of carotenoids, to which antioxidant potentials are attributed . The consumption of these seeds seems to oppose, among other things, the formation of kidney stones from calcium oxalate. How many pumpkin seeds to eat to keep the kidneys healthy? Beyond the subjective nutritional needs, 10 g per day (about a tablespoon) of this food is an adequate amount.

4. Fennel

Rich in water and antioxidants, fennel is undoubtedly included among the vegetables that are good for the kidneys. In addition to counteracting oxidative stress, the consumption of fennel lends itself to an effective detoxifying action. Fennel is excellent to be eaten raw, in standard portions of about 200 g and even several times in a week. In general, it is preferable to alternate the consumption of this vegetable with that of other seasonal products.

5. Olive oil

Among the key foods of the Mediterranean Diet, olive oil is also the subject of numerous studies. Thanks to its peculiar composition, which boasts the presence of monounsaturated fats, polyphenols and vitamins, olive oil is beneficial for the human body. Specifically, it is a food with a strong antioxidant power, whose protective effects are also expressed on the health of the kidney, sometimes threatened by the excess of free radicals.

The best way to benefit from the properties of olive oil is to consume it raw to season dishes. Furthermore, due to its caloric intake, this food requires a conscious and careful consumption in quantities: regardless of individual variations, 2 or 3 tablespoons a day represent the usually recommended quantity.

6. Buckwheat

Being among the different sources of complex carbohydrates, buckwheat is a pseudocereal with excellent nutritional characteristics. In addition, it is a vegetable source of essential amino acids, as well as fiber, B vitamins and bioactive substances. There are also several minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. Thanks to its compositional characteristics and its antioxidant potential, buckwheat can be placed among the foods for kidney health. As for the quantities of consumption, buckwheat is equated with the most common cereals: a standard portion corresponds to about 80 g, to be included in the diet several times a week.

7. Pomegranate

Equipped with a peculiar appearance and a sour taste, the pomegranate is gaining more and more popularity among health lovers. It is, in fact, a fruit with various beneficial properties, capable of promoting various physiological aspects. Kidney health can also benefit from the consumption of this fruit, thanks to the relative supply of vitamin C and other strong antioxidant substances. Also noteworthy is the contribution of citric acid, a substance that opposes the formation of stones from uric acid. Finally, the pomegranate is a fruit with useful purifying properties. A standard portion of pomegranate (deprived of waste), corresponds to about 150 g (from which you can also extract the juice, another valid alternative to eat this fruit). The consumption of this fruit can also be included several times in the weekly diet.

8. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a beneficial food for overall health and helps keep the kidneys healthy as well. Its consumption brings fiber, water and various micronutrients, among which we include potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, but also vitamins K, C and A. There are also some bioactive components, such as sulforaphane. Overall, the consumption of this vegetable favors the elimination of toxins and the removal of free radicals, lending itself to the well-being of the kidney. The consumption of cauliflower should be included in a varied and balanced diet, alternating it with the different seasonal vegetables. A standard serving of cauliflower is about 200 g.

9. Onions

Undoubtedly known for their pungent odor and distinctive flavor, onions are sometimes eliminated from food choices. Thanks to the content of vitamin C and vitamin B6, but also of anthocyanins and quercetin, onions should be part of the diet for the kidneys and relative well-being. Leaving aside the standard quantities, it is preferable to consume this food through some tricks. In this regard, onions can be combined with other foods (tomatoes, salads, cucumbers, etc.) and inserted, for example, in salads or among the ingredients of sauces and sandwiches.

10. Lupins

Lupins are legumes with peculiar characteristics and interesting properties. They are rich in vegetable protein and fiber, while they are low in fat. As for the micronutritional profile, lupins provide mineral salts and some vitamins. These include vitamin B6, the deficiency of which can favor the formation of kidney stones. As with other legumes, a standard portion of pre-cooked lupins is equivalent to about 150g, while it is equal to 50g for dried lupins. Over the course of a week, it is a good idea to alternate them with the consumption of other legumes.

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