Think of your kidneys as a filter that gets rid of all the things you don’t want in your body. These two fist-sized, bean-shaped organs filter your blood, removing toxins and excess fluids while keeping your levels of potassium and sodium and more in check. At the same time, they produce hormones that help to regulate everything from your blood pressure to your bone strength. Long story short, your kidneys do a lot — so much, in fact, that they can get overtaxed.
Roughly one in seven Americans has chronic kidney disease (CKD), which can cause waste and fluid buildup in your body. Worse yet, most people with CKD don’t know they have it. Since certain foods are good for kidneys, what you eat can help to protect your kidney health:
Fatty fish like tuna, salmon or trout, are sources of of omega-3 fatty acids. According to the National Kidney Foundation, omega-3 fats may help reduce fat levels (triglycerides) in the blood and may also lower blood pressure.
Bell peppers pack in lots of good nutrients with low levels of potassium. With them, you get vitamins B6, B9, C and K, plus fiber, and antioxidants, too. Slice them and eat them with dips or roast them up and add them to dinner.
Cranberries help prevent urinary tract infections which can travel up to your kidneys. They also have antioxidants that can help to fight inflammation, and they can boost your heart and digestive health.
With high levels of antioxidants and loads of vitamin C and fiber, blueberries are all-around healthy. They can also help to reduce inflammation and support bone health, reversing some of the issues that can come with CKD.
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants and healthy fatty acids which can boost your overall wellness. A study from the University of Harvard found that olive oil may lower cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia and some types of cancer.
Onions give you another excellent and salt-free way to add flavor while delivering important nutrients like vitamins B6 and C, manganese and copper. They also contain quercetin, a chemical that can help your body fight cancer, and organic sulfur compounds that can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
Apples deliver the cancer-fighting quercetin and fiber that can help to keep your cholesterol and blood sugar at healthy levels, and they’ve got plenty of antioxidants. Better yet, they’re easy to work into your diet. Leave a bowl of apples on your counter and you’ll have a kidney-healthy grab-and-go snack whenever you need one.