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Kidney Diet Tips: Pumpkin and Kidney Diets
Yesterday a farmer friend delivered a fresh pumpkin to my mom’s front porch. Yes, it’s that time of the year— the beginning of fall harvest, cooler evenings, and soon-to-be leaves turning vibrant colors in celebration of another year passing.
As we were discussing what to do with the pumpkin, the question came up “How does pumpkin fit into a diet for stage 3 CKD?” To answer, I’ve gathered some kidney diet tips facts and figures on pumpkin to share with you.
- Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene (precursor to vitamin A), and potassium. It is a good source of fiber and iron. One-half cup of fresh boiled, mashed, pumpkin contains 25 calories, 1 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 1 mg sodium, 37 mg phosphorus, 280 mg potassium and 1.3 g fiber.
- Since potassium content is high, people on hemodialysis and others with high potassium levels or prescribed a low potassium diet should limit pumpkin.
- To reduce potassium in fresh pumpkin, as well as potatoes and winter squash, cut into small pieces and soak in a large pot of warm water to 2 hours or longer. An alternative is to boil the small pumpkin pieces for 10 minutes, drain and add fresh water, then boil until cooked. Potassium is usually reduced by 1/3 to ½ of the original amount.
- Canned pumpkin puree is similar to fresh cooked pumpkin in potassium content, with 250 mg per ½ cup, and most brands do not contain added sodium. In comparison, ½ cup pumpkin pie filling contains 280 mg sodium, 186 mg potassium and 62 mg phosphorus. The pie filling has added salt, sugar, and spices such as allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon.
- Prepared, frozen pumpkin pie contains around 350 mg sodium, 250 mg potassium and 100 mg phosphorus for 1/6th of a 9-inch pie.
- Pumpkin seed kernels are not kidney-friendly: 2 tablespoons contain 228 mg potassium and 332 mg phosphorus. If roasted with salt the sodium goes from 5 mg up to 160 mg.
Pumpkin is a healthy choice for kidney patients in earlier stages of CKD who do not require a potassium restriction. Fresh or low-sodium canned pumpkin puree is the best choice. For patients on a low potassium diet, pumpkin can be included in small amounts. For best results, stick to recipes modified for a kidney-friendly diet to keep potassium, phosphorus and sodium intake in check.
So what can you do with a fresh pumpkin? Cut it up and cook to make pumpkin puree–consider canning your own pumpkin to use throughout the fall holidays. Make a pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread or homemade pumpkin soup. If you had rather, you can always carve your pumpkin it onto a Jack-o-lantern.
Enjoy the following kidney-friendly pumpkin recipes from DaVita.com: