Kidney Diet Tips

Cinco de Mayo Celebration Diet Tips

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican-American culture with food and beverages at the center of the festivities. Beans, salsa, cheese and tortillas are found in many Mexican dishes, potentially making them high in potassium and phosphorus. Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and those on dialysis can still enjoy the party by following their doctor or dietitian’s recommendations and these kidney-friendly tips:


Beans are high in phosphorus and potassium. Including them into a kidney diet can be challenging for some patients. Beans contain protein and fiber, so including them does have some nutritional benefits for many patients. Why? Because a high fiber intake is associated with lower inflammation and risk of death in some patients with kidney disease (1). Try adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of beans to a salad or incorporate beans into salsa or white rice for extra flavor, protein and fiber. Visit the past post  beans in your kidney diet for more information. In addition, ask your registered dietitian for advice related to your specific dietary needs.


Salsa is a very versatile food. It can be served as a snack with a few tortilla chips, or used as a condiment with the meal to add extra flavor. For more information on using salsa to add flavor to your meals visit this blog post and try these simple salsa recipes. Guacamole, another popular Mexican condiment, is made from avocado, which is very high in potassium. Limit to 1 to 2 tablespoons of avocado if you are on a low potassium diet.


Cheese is usually limited in kidney diets due to the high phosphorus and sodium content. The potassium content of cheese is typically low but manufacturers will sometimes add potassium chloride. This additive can drastically increase the amount of potassium in the cheese. Reading the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient labels and watching portion sizes is extremely important. When planning your food this Cinco de Mayo ask for your meal to be made without cheese. Or, another option is to ask for cheese to be served on the side. You can then add a small sprinkle for flavor. It is possible to safely incorporate small portions of cheese without negatively impacting phosphorus laboratory results. Ask your dietitian about incorporating cheese into your diet. Also, visit this past blog post  “Best Cheese Choices for a Kidney Diet” for more information.


Tortillas are a staple food in the Mexican diet and are typically made from either corn or flour. This blog post discusses which tortilla is best for a kidney diet. If you are dining out, flour tortillas may be the best choice for limiting phosphorus. When cooking at home, this corn tortilla recipe is a flavorful alternative to store purchased corn tortillas.

Find more great tips for dining out in this post “ Dining out Successfully at Mexican Fiesta Restaurant. If you enjoy celebrating and cooking at home try one of these great kidney-friendly Mexican inspired recipes.

In addition to Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day, May brings a variety of fresh spring produce. Try one of these fresh spring produce salads this month.


Vidya M. Raj Krishnamurthy et al: High dietary fiber is associated with decreased inflammation and all-cause mortality in patients with CKD. Kidney International 81: 300-306, February 2012.

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                      

Diet and Nutrition Videos

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Jennifer Smart MS, RD, LDN

Jennifer Smart MS, RD, LDN

Jennifer Smart has been a registered dietitian for 14 years with 10 years of renal experience. Nutrition topics of interest include malnutrition and nutrition Informatics. She lives in Maryland with her spouse, a retired US Marine, and her very energetic son. When she is not focusing on nutrition Jennifer enjoys fiber arts, gardening, beach combing and restoring furniture.