Kidney Diet Tips

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Spice Up Your Life Without Salt

It is not a big secret that most of us eat way too much salt. It’s not just individuals with kidney disease who need to put down the shaker. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in three Americans is diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure). So there is no need to feel like your kidney diet is making your entire family eat without salt when they don’t need to do so. Chances are, everyone in your family may benefit from a reduction in salt!

The American Heart Association recommends most people limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg daily. You might ask yourself if it is even possible to do so. Keep reading….

There are two issues to address. First, eliminating commercially prepared foods that contain sodium and salt; and second, reducing the salt added to foods prepared at home.

Half of the sodium we consume comes from these five categories: processed/cured meats, frozen meals, canned foods, snack foods and breads. Limiting these foods will have a huge impact in reducing salt intake.

Make the food you prepare at home taste AMAZING without the salt shaker!

Here are 8 basic tips:

  1. Spices are more flavorful when heated with oil (heart healthy oil, please) versus water.
  2. Combine spices with an acid like vinegar, lemon or lime juice to awaken your taste buds.
  3. Determine your “flavor profile” and choose herbs and spices accordingly. For example Italian, Mexican, chili or smoky.
  4. Consider the type of food you are cooking–chicken, fish, beef or vegetables, and add low-sodium seasonings to complement.
  5. Roast vegetables in the oven to concentrate the flavor instead of diluting flavors with steaming or boiling.
  6. Add crunchiness or chewiness to your dish with small amounts of chopped seeds, nuts or dried berries.
  7. Talk to people who are good cooks and ask which spices go together or which ones they use when making some of your favorite dishes.
  8. Increase use of herbs and spices.

I recently talked with a chef who uses a variety of flavors and techniques to make delicious foods without salt. He suggests marinating meats in olive oil and citrus juices in place of the store-bought, salt-laden, bottled marinades. He also recommends making your own stock with chicken, turkey or beef bones and a variety of vegetables like onion, celery, carrots or mushrooms, plus rosemary, thyme or other herbs and spices that sound good to you. Just leave out the meat bones if you want a vegetable stock. Packaged or canned salt-free stocks are great options, but are a little more costly than and not as flavorful as making your own.

Reducing salt intake benefits pretty much everyone! Before deciding it is impossible to live within the limits you’ve been given, try some of these ideas. Reduce prepared foods and use spices and herbs to make your meals tasty.

As always, talk to your dietitian if you have any questions about adding new foods, spices and herbs to your diet.

Check out the DaVita website, for over 900 great recipes specifically for kidney diets.

Shelley Munch, MBA, RDN, LD

Shelley Munch, MBA, RDN, LD

Shelley has been a registered dietitian for many years with over 15 years in renal (Acute, CKD 3-5, Dialysis, Transplant). She is an adjunct professor at Park University and teaches Human Nutrition and Nutrition for Health Sciences for undergraduates. She loves helping people connect what they eat with how they feel. Shelley has a husband and two daughters that keep her running.