A healthy kidney is as important as a healthy heart. Kidneys filter out the waste and extra water, and remove harmful toxins from the body in the form of urine. In addition, kidneys help maintain a balance of electrolytes and other fluids in your body.
Kidney problems can cause difficulty urinating, puffiness around the eyes, and swollen feet and hands. A person who has kidney problems is also at higher risk of developing heart disease.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 26 million adults in America suffer from some kind of kidney disease.
Eating the right foods help organs, including your kidneys, function properly. Certain superfoods rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin C promote kidney health.
Antioxidants can help slow or stop the rate of oxidation caused by free radicals, which is one of the main causes of kidney problems.
Here are the top 10 superfoods for healthy kidneys.
Cabbage improves kidney functioning and is most commonly used as a natural medicine to repair and nourish the kidneys. It is an essential food for anyone suffering from kidney problems.
Cabbage is packed with phytochemicals that help break up free radicals before they can do damage. Also, it is high in vitamins B6, C and K, along with fiber and folic acid. Low in potassium, cabbage makes a great addition to a dialysis diet. You can enjoy this vegetable steamed or boiled.
Being excellent sources of manganese, vitamin C, fiber and folate, different types of berries like strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and blueberries are good for your kidneys. The antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory properties in these berries help reduce inflammation and improve bladder functioning.
You can choose fresh, frozen or dried berries and eat them raw or add them to your favorite cereal or smoothie to promote kidney health.
Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation in the body and hence protect the kidneys from various diseases. Also, fish is a good source of high quality protein.
According to a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, consumption of fish helps lower abnormal levels of protein in urine in people suffering from diabetics.
The types of fish that are best for the kidneys are salmon, rainbow trout, mackerel, herring and tuna. The American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association recommend having two to three servings of fish each week. You must eat steamed, baked or roasted fish instead of fried fish to reduce kidney problems.
4. Egg Whites
Egg whites are recommended for people with kidney disease due to their low phosphorous content and high quality protein. High quality protein contains an essential amino acid, which is necessary for the kidneys to function properly.
At the same time, when high quality protein is metabolized in the body it produces less waste product. You can use egg whites to make omelets or sandwiches or eat hard-boiled eggs without the yolk.
People with kidney problems should avoid eating egg yolks. High protein intake, too, is not recommended as it can cause extra burden on the kidneys.
5. Olive Oil
Olive oil is good for your heart as well as your kidneys. This oil is a great source of oleic acid, anti-inflammatory fatty acids that lower oxidation and promote kidney health. Also, it is rich in polyphenols and antioxidant compounds that prevent inflammation and oxidation.
Virgin and extra virgin olive oil contain higher amounts of antioxidants than regular olive oil, so use one of those to get the most health benefits. You can use olive oil to make salad dressing and in your everyday cooking. It’s also good for dipping bread or marinating fish or vegetables.
Garlic has antioxidants and anticlotting properties that can effectively reduce the chances of kidney disease as well as heart disease.
Eating one to two raw garlic cloves daily on an empty stomach can greatly reduce bad cholesterol levels and inflammation in the body.
It also protects the kidneys from the potentially harmful effects of heavy metals. You can use fresh, bottled, minced or powdered garlic in your dishes to add aroma and flavor as well as health benefits.
Onions are full of powerful antioxidants that help detoxify and cleanse the kidneys, thereby helping prevent many types of kidney-related health problems. Low in potassium, onions also contain chromium, a mineral that helps the body metabolize fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
They also have anti-inflammatory properties. Onions can be enjoyed raw or cooked in a variety of dishes. Eating raw onions can help treat kidney stones naturally.
8. Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers help break down toxic waste in the blood, and therefore contribute to kidney health. They are low in potassium and rich in vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid and fiber.
When suffering from kidney problems, it is often advised to keep your potassium intake low because damaged kidneys may not be able to effectively filter potassium from your blood.
This tasty vegetable also contains lycopene, an antioxidant that protects against certain types of cancers. You can include red bell peppers in your diet in raw, baked, roasted, cooked or stuffed form.
This cruciferous vegetable is high in vitamin C and contains a good amount of folate and fiber. It also has compounds like indoles, glucosinolates and thiocyanates that help the liver neutralize toxic substances that can otherwise damage cell membranes and DNA.
When consumed on a regular basis, cauliflower can reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels due to its antioxidant and anticlotting properties.
Cauliflower can be eaten raw with dip or in salads. You can also try steamed, boiled, fried, roasted or baked cauliflower dishes. However, being high in purines that lead to the accumulation of uric acid, cauliflower may not be siutable for those suffering from gout and kidney stones.
Apples are good for detoxifying and cleansing the kidneys as they are high in fiber and anti-inflammatory properties. Also, apples help prevent urinary tract infections and thus may help reduce the risk of kidney stones.
At the same time, apples are great for reducing cholesterol, protecting against heart problems, decreasing your risk of cancer and helping prevent constipation.
Have an apple each day to keep your kidneys functioning properly. You can enjoy this crunchy and juicy fruit raw, in baked desserts, or as applesauce or juice.
According to a research published in the Journal of the American Society Nephrology, a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, and low in salt, red meat, processed meat and sweetened beverages can help prevent kidney stones.
If you are concerned about the health of your kidneys, do not forget to include these superfoods in your diet to promote kidney health.
When suffering from any kidney problem though, make sure you consult your doctor or nutritionist to determine your proper diet dependig on your overall health and kidney function.