Kidney Diet Tips

How can I make my kidney diet foods tasty?

Whenever 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:

Vinegars—Apple cider, balsamic, distilled white, unseasoned rice and wine vinegars are a sodium-free, low phosphorus way to add flavor in marinades, as vinaigrette dressings or splashed directly onto foods. Check labels for added ingredients in vinegars as some may have added sodium. In addition to traditional vinegars, there are those flavored with fruits and herbs to expand your palate.

Citrus zests—The colorful skin of lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits are fragrant and flavorful, so don’t throw away the skin; use it to flavor cooked or raw foods. Use a citrus zester, paring knife or vegetable peeler to access the zest, but avoid the bitter white pith under the skin. Citrus zest is sodium free and one tablespoon has less than 10 mg of potassium.

Fresh herbs—Like citrus zest, flavoring foods with fresh herbs can be very aromatic adding another dimension to enjoying foods. Basil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, ginger, horseradish root, hot peppers, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon and thyme are some of the kidney friendly herbs you can add to cooked and raw foods. Buy clean, fresh, fragrant herbs that are not brown or wilting. Store herbs that come in bunches in your refrigerator with stems in water like cut flowers.

Spices—Shake a little spice on foods for a burst of flavor such as: allspice, caraway seeds, celery seeds, cumin, curry powder, mustard powder, nutmeg, onion powder, paprika, pepper (black, red, white), tarragon and turmeric. Dry spices vary in price and last quite awhile on your spice rack. You can purchase low-sodium seasoning blends with a combination of herbs and spices, or try making your own blends.

Try using vinegars, citrus zest, fresh herbs and spices in different recipes to see which flavors are most appealing. The kidney diet doesn’t have to be bland, visit the recipe section at for more flavorful ideas and delicious foods.

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.

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.