Kidney Diet Tips


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Newly Released Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Sodium and Chronic Kidney Disease

Every 5 years the USDA releases guidelines on healthy eating, Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The newest release points out that many Americans lack healthy diet and exercise habits, and it addresses people with chronic diseases, including chronic kidney disease.

The wealth of topics in the guidelines are Balancing Calories to Manage Weight, Food and Food Components to Reduce, Food and Nutrients to Increase, Building Healthy Eating Patterns, and Helping Americans Make Healthy Choices.

Of interest for you and your kidney diet, are the guidelines under Food and Food Components to Reduce, namely, sodium. According to the 2010 guidelines, sodium should be limited to 2,300 mg a day. For people 51 years or older, African Americans, and anyone who has high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, a new sodium goal of 1,500 mg a day is recommended. About half the US population, including children, and the majority of adults fall into this category. The average sodium intake today is 3,400 mg a day, far above these new guidelines.

Here are the key points related to sodium:

  • As sodium intake increases, blood pressure increases; as sodium intake decreases, so does blood pressure
  • Risk of heart disease and kidney disease increase with higher blood pressure
  • The average sodium intake for Americans, including children, is high– 3400 mg a day
  • Most sodium comes from salt added to processed foods. Categories of processed foods that contribute high amounts of sodium include :
    • Yeast breads 7.3%
    • Chicken and mixed chicken dishes 6.8%
    • Pizza 6.3%
    • Pasta and pasta dishes 5.1%
    • Cold cuts 4.5%
    • Condiments 4.4%
    • Tortillas, burritos, tacos and other Mexican mixed dishes 4.1%
    • Sausage, hot dogs, bacon and ribs 4.1%
    • Regular cheese 3.5%
    • Grain-based desserts 3.4%
    • Soups 3.3%
    • Rice and rice mixed dishes 2.6%
    • Eggs and egg mixed dishes 2.6%
    • Burgers 2.4%
    • Salad dressing 2.4%
    • Ready to eat cereals 2.0%
    • All other food categories 31.9%
    • How many of these foodes are in your daily diet? How many could be replaced?:
  • Because processed foods contribute so much sodium to the American diet, food manufacturers must help by reducing sodium content of the foods they provide. Or concern to kidney patients, especially anyone in the later stage 4 or 5 or on dialysis, is the use of potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride (salt), which greatly increases the potassium content of processed foods.

Suggested ways to reduce sodium include: (These guidelines can also be applied to foods with added potassium or phosphorus)

  • Read food labels to determine sodium content and buy the foods lower in sodium
  • Stick with fresh foods and limit the number of processed foods you purchase.
  • Prepare foods at home and limit the amount of added salt or sodium-containing ingredients
  • At restaurants, order lower sodium options and ask for food to be prepared with no added salt

To learn more about the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans read the full document.

For more information on sodium and kidney disease, read the following articles:

Sodium and chronic kidney disease

Seasoning the low sodium way

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.