5 Foods to Add to your Diet for Better Kidney Health

Published on February 03, 2023

By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.


Our kidneys are some of the hardest-working and most under-appreciated organs in the body.

Aside from filtering over 150 quarts of blood per day, they also play an essential role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance, hormone activation, synthesizing vitamin D, and filtering various toxins such as ammonia, creatine, hormone metabolites, and heavy metals. REF#435

The kidneys are beautifully designed filters that should last a lifetime if cared for properly.

Unfortunately, few of us are taught how to nurture our kidneys, which can lead to unintended consequences.

The kidneys also take a big hit from lifestyle-driven chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. REF#435

This partly explains why kidney disease is on the rise affecting an estimated 1 in 7 adults, per the National Institutes of Health. REF#436

Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect and nourish your kidneys through nutrition and lifestyle.

In this article, you’ll learn about five foods to add to your diet for better kidney health, which foods to avoid, and helpful tips for getting more kidney-friendly foods into your meals and snacks.

Why Food Matters When it Comes to Kidney Health

Food choices are important to kidney health for several reasons.

First and foremost, the risk of kidney disease increases exponentially for those with diabetes and high blood pressure/heart disease. REF#436

Although genetic factors can be involved, heart disease and certain types of diabetes are recognized as largely lifestyle-driven diseases.

This means we have tremendous power to prevent our risk of kidney problems by focusing on lifestyle factors, including food and nutrition.

Secondly, healthy food choices are essential for those living with kidney disease because it is a leading factor in disease progression.

Specifically, nutrients such as protein and minerals like sodium, potassium, and phosphorus can be problematic for damaged kidneys.

For this reason, people with kidney disease are referred to a dietician to help craft a renal-specific diet to prolong kidney function.

5 Foods to Add to your Diet for Better Kidney Health

The content in this article will focus on foods that have been studied for their beneficial effects on overall kidney health.

This information is not specific to foods for kidney disease, which should always be discussed with your doctor, dietician, or other healthcare providers.

We’ll also touch on kidney health nutrition recommendations from traditional wellness systems, including Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.

#1: Cucumbers

Cucumbers are among the best foods to support kidney health. 

Here are six reasons why:

  1. They’re naturally high in water, which helps flush the kidneys and support fluid and electrolyte balance.
  2. Their high-water content also makes them a filling food, which can help with weight management and conquering cravings.
  3. Cucumbers contain antioxidants that can help with inflammation and may positively affect blood sugar and lipid levels. REF#437
  4. Research has shown eating cucumbers can help regulate uric acid levels, which may support kidney health. REF#438
  5. Cucumbers are high in fiber, which supports heart health.
  6. An animal study published in the Journal of Natural Sciences Research found cucumber pulp helped support kidney restoration and function in rats with diabetes. REF#439

Cucumbers are widely available, affordable, and easy to grow. 

Try them freshly chopped in salads, julienned atop a stirfry, or juiced for a refreshing and healthy beverage.

#2: Beets and Beet Juice

Beets and beet juice are often consumed to support liver or digestive health.

However, research has shown they’re also good for your kidneys.

Two animal studies published in Evidence-Based Complementary Medicine and Environmental Science and Research International showed beetroot and beetroot juice were effective in helping mitigate nephrotoxicity, a condition resulting in kidney damage due to a drug or other substance. REF#440 REF#441

Beets are also high in fiber and contain a wealth of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that support kidney health.

One of these nutrients is inorganic nitrate NO3, which has been shown to support normal blood pressure. REF#442

This has made beetroot juice the subject of several studies demonstrating its beneficial effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. REF#443

#3: Cranberries and Cranberry Juice

Cranberries and cranberry juice are legendary as a natural solution for urinary health issues.*

They’ve also been traditionally used to break up kidney stones and support overall kidney health.*

Modern science has been studying the cranberry for over 30 years, during which time it’s identified several compounds, including antioxidant anthocyanins, procyanidins, and flavonols. REF#444

These compounds have demonstrated various health benefits for digestion, cardiovascular health, and kidney function.

For example, cranberries have been shown effective in preventing kidney stones by increasing urine pH. REF#445

Cranberries have also demonstrated antibacterial properties that may help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. REF#446 REF#447 REF#448 This is significant as UTIs can turn into kidney infections if not addressed properly.

This represents a small sampling of the many health benefits of consuming cranberries and cranberry juice.

Note: Cranberries can potentially interact with certain medications, such as Warfarin. REF#449

#4: Celery

Celery is an underappreciated superfood for kidney health and overall well-being.

Celery also has a long history of traditional use as a food and a medicinal. 

For example, in Ayurveda, the traditional wellness practice of India, celery has been used for mental health, skin issues, digestive complaints, fevers, respiratory ailments, and circulation.*

It’s also been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for blood pressure, inflammation, and bacterial and viral issues.*

In traditional herbalism, it is considered a carminative (which expels gas and soothes the digestive tract) and a diaphoretic (sweat-inducer).*

Although celery is mainly made up of water, science has discovered several beneficial compounds in its seeds, flesh, and roots, including antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta carotene, polysaccharides, apigenin, and flavonoids.

These plant compounds have been shown to provide benefits for kidney health.

Research has shown the phytochemical apigenin found in celery can act as a liver and kidney protectant by reducing oxidative stress. REF#450

Another animal study on celery extract for chronic kidney disease showed a significant positive difference between the placebo and celery extract groups in serum creatinine, SOD, and MDA levels—all markers of kidney function. REF#451

Research has also demonstrated that celery seed may benefit blood pressure, a common cause or exacerbator of kidney disease. REF#452

Since these studies and traditional preparations use different types of celery (stalks, extract, root (also known as celeriac), and seeds), it makes sense to try incorporating various plant parts into your diet.

  • Celery seeds, for example, can be used in soups, dressings, or tea.
  • Celery stalks are delicious, plain, juiced, or stuffed with nut butter or hummus.
  • Celeriac is delicious roasted or mashed up with potatoes.

We’ll share more ideas on getting more celery into your diet coming up.

#5: Lemon Juice

Lemon juice may be tart on the tongue, but it can be helpful for kidney, urinary health, and liver health.

A study entitled: “In vitro and in vivo study of the effect of lemon juice on urinary lithogenesis” found consumption of lemon juice helped inhibit the formation of kidney stones (urinary lithogenesis). REF#453 Another study published in the journal Urology demonstrated a similar benefit of using lemonade. REF#454

Additionally, a 2021 trial of over 200 people entitled “Fresh lemon juice supplementation for the prevention of recurrent stones in calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis: A pragmatic, prospective, randomized, open, blinded endpoint (PROBE) trial” found 60 mL of lemon juice given twice daily for two years reduced the recurrence of kidney stones in several participants. REF#455

However, the authors noted that more participants may have benefitted from lemon juice had they maintained greater compliance over the 2-year trial (so consistency is key!).

Many health experts and traditional practitioners recommend drinking lemon water upon waking to flush your system. 

Some detox cleanses also focus on drinking maple-syrup-sweetened lemonade with cayenne pepper exclusively for several days or weeks.

For most people, the easiest way to get more lemon juice is to add a squeeze to water and sip throughout the day. 

As demonstrated in the research, consistency is essential to achieving long-term results.

Helpful Tips for Getting More Kidney-friendly Foods into your Diet

It’s easy to get excited about adding new kidney-friendly foods to your diet. 

However, implementing dietary changes can often be challenging, especially when you’re in it for the long run.

Here are some tips for getting more kidney-friendly foods into your diet:

  • Eat a salad daily and top it with any kidney-friendly foods such as roasted beets, dried cranberries, or chopped cucumber and celery. Add a squeeze of lemon, and you have a kidney-friendly superfood meal.
  • Bust out of the juicer. Celery and cucumbers are high in water which yields lots of juice! This makes them perfect for enjoying as a one-ingredient juice or combined with other fruits and vegetables. Juicing is also a great way to get more beets, especially when combined with other tasty produce.
  • Drink cranberry juice. The healthiest option is unsweetened, 100% pure cranberry juice diluted with water. 
  • Blend kidney-friendly foods into your smoothies. The tart, fruity flavor of whole cranberries or cranberry juice makes them an excellent addition to any type of smoothie. Cucumbers and lemons are also fantastic for amplifying the flavor of blended drinks.
  • Eat soups. They’re naturally high in water, make an excellent carrier for celery and celery seed, and can be finished with fresh lemon juice.
  • Make spa water. Fruit and vegetable-infused waters are all-the-rage at spas. Cranberries, cucumbers, or lemons make perfect additions to your water pitcher. Just slice, add to water, let sit for a few minutes, and enjoy.
  • Treat cranberries like any other berry. Add them to oatmeal, pancakes, cereal, yogurt, and more. If fresh cranberries are too tart, try dried or cranberry sauce.
  • Drink lemon water and make fresh lemonade. Both are easy to make and a great way to enjoy more lemon.
  • Add lemon to (almost) everything. It makes an excellent flavor enhancer for seasoning meats, dressings (substitute lemon for vinegar), soups, blended drinks, tea, smoothies, and more.

For more healthy culinary inspiration, check out these recipes from our blog:


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