Kidney Diet Tips

Food Facts Friday: Lemons: A Sweet Choice for Your Kidney Diet

Three cheers for the fruit with “pucker power”!  Most people think of lemons as a garnish for dinner plates and ice tea glasses. However, this sunshine yellow fruit is more than a pretty decoration. Low in potassium and full of flavor, lemons are a “sweet find” for people following a kidney diet.

Lemon Ideas

Check out these possibilities:

  • Pucker up. For those who enjoy the taste of fresh lemons, sucking on a lemon wedge will make the mouth water and help relieve thirst.
  • A little spritz. Add a small amount of lemon juice to cold water and pour into a finger- tip (3 ounce) spray bottle to use to “spritz” your mouth to help combat dryness.
  • No salt, no problem! Lemons awaken the taste buds. Add flavor to your foods with a zest of fresh lemon, grated lemon peel or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Some foods that lemon pairs well with are fish, chicken, shrimp, and asparagus.
  •  Mamma Mia! Liven up pasta by tossing it in a homemade lemon-flavored oil, made like this: 
    • In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup olive oil and the zest from one fresh lemon; set it aside for about one hour to allow the flavor to infuse.
    • Strain the zest out of the olive oil and discard the zest; add the lemon oil to 8 ounces of cooked pasta and toss to combine. Toss in favorite seasonings such as garlic and black pepper for even more flavor.   
    • For a complete meal, add cooked shrimp or chicken to the pasta and serve with a side salad.  
  • Ahh…refreshing— that’s lemonade! Go ahead and enjoy a small glass of ice-cold lemonade on a warm summer day. Equally refreshing, freeze some lemonade in ice cubes trays to take throughout the day as thirst quenchers. Remember to count it as part of your daily fluid intake. Homemade lemonade is best because you can be sure it does not have additives containing potassium or phosphorus. Try one of these lemonade recipes:
  • Versatile Vinaigrette (low sodium):  Whisk together 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed), 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning and 1/8 teaspoon white pepper.  Serve as a dressing over a tossed salad or use as a marinade for chicken, pork, or beef.  
  • Let it roll. Before cutting a lemon to make juice, put it on your counter and roll it back and forth, applying some pressure with the heel of your hand. This will help break down the lemon and make it easier to juice.
  • Just the facts. Lemons keep well and can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for 2 weeks. One average-size lemon has 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in it and yields 1 tablespoon of lemon zest from the skin.  When a recipe calls for the juice of one fresh lemon, you can substitute 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice.

When it comes to lemons, a “sour reputation” is a good thing!  Buy some, try some and see for yourself!

For more lemon ideas read this past post “L is for Lemon and Lime“.

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

Disclaimer: 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.

Cheryl Hathaway, RDN, CSR, LDN

Cheryl Hathaway, RDN, CSR, LDN

Cheryl lives in Lancaster, PA and has been a Renal Dietitian for over 25 years. She appreciates that her job allows her the opportunity to help her patients feel their best and keep as active as possible with good nutrition. In her downtime, Cheryl enjoys hiking, reading, cooking, following Carolina Panthers football and going on weekend getaways with her husband Mike.