Kidney Diet Tips

How to Make a Kidney-Friendly Sandwich

The lunch meal is a popular time to have a sandwich. Sandwiches are easy to make and don’t take long to prepare. In the dialysis setting, sandwiches are a popular item to eat before or after dialysis treatment. Sandwiches that are low in sodium and phosphorus, plus limit potassium are a great fit with the kidney diet. But, how do you make a kidney -friendly sandwich? Continue reading to explore the components of a healthy sandwich that fits in your kidney meal plan.

Bread Selection

Some bread varieties are higher in sodium and phosphorus. When looking for a good bread option, read the food label to check the sodium content. Finding a bread option with less than 200 mg sodium per serving is a head-start in building a low-sodium sandwich. Also, making your sandwich at home can help to limit sodium. For example, one loaf bread option has 240 mg sodium for 2 slices. To compare, a 6-inch sub roll at a popular sandwich fast food restaurant has 340 mg sodium*. Additionally, some bread options may have more phosphorus. Watch for breads that contain phosphate additives. Breads that include nuts or seeds, whether inside the bread or on the crust are higher in phosphorus. However naturally occurring phosphorus is only partially absorbed. For a sandwich lower in sodium and carbohydrate, use thin sliced bread or try a piece of lettuce as a wrap instead of bread.

Protein Choices 

Protein on a sandwich helps fill you up. While deli meats such as sliced turkey, ham or roast beef are higher in sodium, some lunch meat options may have less sodium than others. Using 200 mg or less per serving as a rule of thumb can help. Additionally, some lunch meats may be injected with a preservative that contains phosphorus. Lunch meats that are advertised as being “natural” can be good choices. The “natural” lunch meats are less likely to contain phosphate additives. Highly processed lunch meats such as bologna, salami, pastrami or hot dogs should be limited or avoided. These processed lunch meats are higher in sodium and phosphorus. Also, some contain potassium additives. Homemade egg , tuna or chicken salad are great high protein options to add to a sandwich.


Vegetables add a nice crunch to your sandwich. They can also add vitamins, minerals, color and flavor. When on the lookout for sodium and phosphorus, stick to fresh vegetables. This means limiting sodium-leaden additions like olives or pickles. Lettuce or spinach, cucumbers, onion and even carrots have little to no sodium and pack the crunch factor.


Condiments such as mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings and other sauces add flavor to your sandwich. Mayonnaise is low in phosphorus and sodium, but will add calories and fat. On average 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 90 calories, 10 grams of fat and 70 mg sodium.** Mustard, however, is a lower calorie, but higher sodium choice. To compare, 1 tablespoon of mustard has 10 calories, 0 g fat, but 110 mg sodium.** To keep sodium low stick to a teaspoon serving of mustard. Dressings and other sauces are also popular additions to sandwiches. Ranch dressing is commonly used as a condiment or dip for sandwiches. Ranch dressing contains 140 calories and 270 mg sodium per 2 tablespoons.** Making this homemade Ranch Dressing cuts sodium by 133 mg per 2 tablespoons compared to the bottled product.

Sandwiches are easy to make and provide calories, protein and nutrients. Sandwiches can be versatile and are easy to eat on-the-go. Some store-bought or fast food sandwiches may be less kidney-friendly. Making a sandwich at home can save money, time and may be a more healthful option.

Looking for a kidney-friendly beverage to go with your sandwich? Try one of our favorites:

*Comparison of Bimbo 100% whole wheat bread to Subway 6-inch Hearty Italian sub roll.

**Values use Walmart Stores brand mayonnaise, mustard and ranch dressing.

Brand names have been included in this material for educational purposes only. DaVita does not endorse one brand over another. There are other brands in addition to these that could be equivalent.

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.

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.

Haley Justus, RD, LDN

Haley Justus, RD, LDN

Haley Justus is a registered dietitian who resides in the mountains of western North Carolina. She has been a dietitian for 3 years and enjoys helping her dialysis patients make small changes to enjoy life-long benefits of health. In her free time, Haley enjoys hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband and two dogs.