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Kidney Diet Tips

Archive for Sodium

August 25, 2015

5 Tips to Lowering your Salt Intake

by guest blogger DaVita dietitian Susan Zogheib, MHS, RD, LDN

Eat less salt written on a heap of salt - antihypertensive campaign

Salt is made up of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride and is very important to your life. You can’t live without it because salt serves many functions. It helps to maintain blood’s water content, balances the acids and bases in your blood, and helps to keep the nerves and muscles working smoothly.  But too much salt can be very dangerous. Read more…

October 8, 2014

Sandwich-High Blood Pressure Connection: Try These Lower Sodium Sandwich Tips

MyPlatePork-425Is your daily lunchtime sandwich contributing to higher blood pressure and weight gain? Medical News Today has a must read story “Your daily sandwich may be chewing up nearly 50% of your sodium allowance”.   The article describes a recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that reveals a typical sandwich can contribute one fifth of daily sodium intake. In addition, people who consumed sandwiches averaged an extra 300 calories a day. Read more…

September 16, 2014

How can I make my kidney diet foods tasty?

Herbs and spicesWhenever a diet limits sodium, people tend to think that means their food will be bland. However, think of a low-salt diet as an invitation to introduce your taste buds to new sensations.

Here are some ideas to give your renal diet foods extra flavor: Read more…

August 6, 2014

  Please pass over the salt

iStock_000000597146Small-Salt Shaker PassFollowing a low-sodium diet would be easier to monitor if you bought only fresh, whole foods and prepared them at home. In current times, that just doesn’t seem so doable all the time. Read more…

July 21, 2014

Is sea salt or kosher salt better than table salt?

SaltSea salt features a coarse texture and stronger flavor compared to table salt. Sea salt is made from evaporated seawater, so sea salt contains traces of additional minerals and is natural instead of processed. Kosher salt has large crystals and contains no preservatives. Kosher salt can be derived from seawater or underground sources. Table salt has fine granules and is mined from underground salt deposits. Table salt is processed with anti-caking agent to prevent clumping. Some table salts are fortified with iodine, a mineral important for thyroid hormones.

While there are textural and processing differences in sea salt, kosher salt and table salt, all of these salts share one thing in common; all are high in sodium. While none of these salts is lower in sodium, due to the size of the sea salt and kosher salt crystals, a measured teaspoon will contain less sodium compared to the fine granules in table salt.  When following a low sodium diet, all salt should be limited. However, using larger textured sea salt and kosher salt may help reduce sodium by a very small amount.

Resources from DaVita.com:

June 13, 2014

What’s the difference between salt and sodium?

Eat Less SaltSalt is composed of two minerals sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl). Table salt (NaCl) contains about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 mg of sodium. As much as we are told to limit sodium in our diets, we all need some sodium for good health. However, the average American diet contains about three times more sodium than is healthy, which leads to high blood pressure and other health issues.

Many natural foods contain sodium organically; however, in much lower amounts than processed foods. Processed and restaurant foods are the culprits for the high levels of sodium in today’s diets. By reading food labels you can see how much sodium foods contain to make better choices. Looking for labels with “low sodium,” “reduced sodium” and “no added salt” is helpful, but always look for the nutrition label to see the actual amount of sodium. Eating natural foods and cooking these foods yourself are the best ways to control your sodium intake. For people with chronic kidney disease, the goal according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010  should be to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium each day or the amount prescribed by their doctor. People on dialysis find it easier to control fluid intake when sodium intake is lower.

Basically, when it comes to the difference between salt and sodium, remember that consuming salt and processed foods is the ways we get sodium in our diets.

Resources from DaVita.com:

June 14, 2013

Kidney Diet Tip: Please Pass Over the Salt

 The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend all people reduce sodium to 2,300 mg or less. For African Americans of any age, people who are 51 and older, or those with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, the sodium recommendation is 1,500 mg or less. Meeting these  low-sodium diet guidelines would be easier to monitor if you bought only fresh, whole foods and prepared them at home. In current times, that just doesn’t seem so doable. Enjoying the convenience of packaged foods and prepared meals as well as the pleasure of eating out at a restaurant mean you really don’t know how much sodium is in the food you consume.

One of the easiest ways to cut down on sodium intake is to pass up using table salt. It may take some getting used to, especially if it’s been a lifelong habit to add salt to foods—sometimes even without tasting first. Read more…

July 13, 2012

Preventing diabetes and kidney disease: Link to canned meat

Canned meats always show up on the list of high sodium foods. Products such as Spam®, Treat®, Vienna Sausage® and Potted Meat® are processed canned meat products represented on this list. Yet, it can be tempting to use canned meat products because they are inexpensive, convenient and a familiar dish to many kitchen tables.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, investigating why the diabetes rate is so high in American Indians, reveals a link between processed canned meat products and the rate of diabetes. Nearly half of the Native American population has diabetes by the age of 55. Higher rates of diabetes mean higher rates of cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.

Researchers surveyed 2,000 Native Americans from Arizona, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota to determine potential reasons for high diabetes rates. The participants, average age 35 and without a diagnosis of diabetes, answered questions about diet, health and lifestyle factors. A five year follow-up revealed 243 of the participants had developed diabetes.

A link was discovered between intakes of processed meat. Spam® is included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food assistance program, making it readily available to Native Americans on reservations. Among the 500 people in the original study group who ate the most canned processed meat, 85 developed diabetes. In contrast, among the 500 people who ate the least amount, 44 developed diabetes.

Amanda Fretts, the lead author and a researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine and her colleagues found that this link did not show up when looking at unprocessed meat. Unlike the nearly double rate of diabetes with processed meat consumption, with unprocessed meat such as hamburger, cuts of fresh beef or pork people were equally likely to develop diabetes regardless of how much they ate.

Processed meat products range from 480 to 820 mg sodium per serving. In addition to sodium additives, some contain potassium chloride and sodium phosphate. Definitely not a kidney-friendly product!

Some of the reasons speculated for  such a higher diabetes risk include the very high sodium content of processed meat; or the fact that people who eat processed meat are heavier, with obesity leading to diabetes. Another school of thought is that chemicals in the food containers, such as Bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical found in plastics and the lining of food cans, may play a role. Finding the connections is not an easy task. More research and study is needed. The best advice to kidney patients and those at risk for kidney disease: leave processed meat products on the shelf.

February 24, 2012

Kidney Diet Tips: A new recipe for Sodium Girl’s Low-Sodium Recipe Rally

This week I’m stepping up to the challenge. Sodium Girl, who blogs on living salt-free and who has first hand experience dealing with kidneys, has challenged her readers to take a salty recipe and replace the high-sodium ingredients with low-sodium substitutes, creating a low-sodium dish full of flavor. I found out about the challenge a day ago, so had little time to to stew on what to create. Last night my hubby kept popping into the kitchen to check on the end result of the yummy smells and clanging pots.

I started with a couscous recipe I love from allrecipes.com. Here’s the original (and to give credit, it was created by Levedi, a cook who has shared several recipes.)

Couscous, Cranberry and Feta Salad


  • 1/3 cup couscous
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, or to taste
  • salt to taste


  1. Place the couscous and cranberries in a heatproof bowl. Pour in the boiling water, and stir with a fork. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and fold in the cucumber and feta cheese. Season to taste with balsamic vinaigrette and salt.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrients (my calculations–used 1/4 tsp salt for the recipe)

243 calories, 6 g protein, 40 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 455 mg sodium, 175 mg potassium, 116 mg phosphorus, 91 mg calcium, 2.9 g fiber.

The feta cheese, salad dressing and salt to taste–all full of flavor and sodium, were my challenges. Additional challenges–the mushy cuccumber I had planned to use, and an almost empty bag of dried cranberries, plus keep it kidney-friendly with low potassium and low phosphorus ingredients. Needless to say, my creation was a bit different from the original recipe, but ended as a pleasant culinary surprise.

Here’s my low-sodium rally recipe:

Couscous, Apple and Carmelized Onion Salad 


  • 2 cups thinly sliced white onion (Maui or other sweet onion variety)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar glaze
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 small apple, cut, cored and thinly sliced (leave the skin on)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted sweet butter
  • 1/3 cup couscous
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and cook onions over medium heat, stirring often. When the onions are translucent and soft, cover with a lid and continue to cook until carmelized, about 15 minutes. Stir about every 3-4 minutes and adjust heat if needed.
  2. In a separate nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray, cook apple slices over medium heat until tender. Reduce heat to medium low and cover with a lid. Continue cooking until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add balsamic glaze and honey to caramelized onions and stir.
  4. Boil the water, add butter and stir until melted. Pour over couscous in a bowl. Cover and let set for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle cinnamon over couscous and stir with a fork to mix.
  6. Add onions and stir until well mixed; add apples, toss and serve.

Tip: Serve hot or cold–it’s great both ways!    

Makes 2 servings


230 calories, 4 g protein, 37 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 7 mg sodium, 155 mg potassium, 66 mg phosphorus, 32 mg calcium, 3.4 g fiber.

I loved participating in this challenge. Sodium Girl has not only proven you can live with and enjoy a low sodium, salt-free diet, she has also prompted a whole group to create and prove there is flavor without salt. Thank you Sodium Girl!

What’s next? March is National Nutrition Month. Find out what the DaVita Dietitians are doing to celebrate!

Kidney diet resources from DaVita.com

September 15, 2011

Flavored oils and vinegars: low sodium flavor for kidney diets

Do you ever find a new food or ingredient that you absolutely fall in love with and want to always have on hand? I had such an experience earlier this year when I attended a meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. Afterwords with some free time to explore, I discovered Outrageous Olive Oils and Vinegars, a wonderful shop that specializes in high quality extra virgin olive oils, flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world. I immediately thought how perfect for adding new and exciting flavors to a kidney diet or for anyone limiting sodium intake. Read more…

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