12 Foods That Are Actually Damaging Your Kidneys

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Our kidneys perform many functions but are often not appreciated.  They remove waste from the bloodstream, regulate the body’s fluid balance while releasing hormones that create red blood cells, ensure bone health, and regulate your blood pressure.

Kidneys are located in the renal system.  They filter blood before sending it back to your heart and helps your body remove waste as urine.  They filter waste from the foods you eat, the medications you take, and remove toxic substances.

Whether you are aware of it or not, you put your kidneys through so much.  Kidneys suffer from cancer, stones, kidney failure, and Polycystic kidney disease.  Polycystic kidney disease is a disorder that has an effect on kidneys as well as other organs. This disease forms cysts that are sacs filled with fluid.  The sacs are formed in the kidneys and will interfere with the ability to filter waste products from the blood.  Cysts cause the kidneys to become enlarged which, if untreated, can lead to kidney failure.

Some stresses that kidneys go through cannot be helped because they are designed to deal with toxins.  As a general rule, you probably believe your kidneys are really tough when in reality, they can become overwhelmed and become damaged.

The following foods are considered healthy choices but can damage your kidneys if you are not careful.  Just enjoy foods but do not overdo consuming the following:

12. Assortment Of Nuts

complications after kidney removal

There is no doubt that nuts are an excellent snack but if you are prone to kidney stones, stay away from them.   Nuts contain a mineral called oxalates which are commonly found in kidney stones.  Also, even if you are in great health, you should be conscientious of certain foods that contain oxalates including beets, potato chips, spinach, bran flakes, and French fries.

Some foods can actually be healthy additions to your diet but eat in moderation.  You can choose a variety of greens instead of spinach and if nuts are something you want to continue consuming, do so in moderation.

11. Avocados

Avocados have always been considered a great fruit that offers only healthy fats.  Actually, they also contain a very high level of potassium which controls your pH level, electrolyte balance, and fluids.  Although kidneys rely on a good balance of potassium and sodium to work properly, don’t overdo it because this will spell trouble for your kidneys.

If you have too much potassium in your blood it’s known as Hyperkalemia which is a medical term that defines the potassium level in your blood that is much higher than normal. Potassium is critical for the functioning of nerve and muscle cells including the cells in your heart. But if you have advanced kidney disease, this fruit can lead to weakness, numbness, can slow down your heart rate, and cause nausea.  As long as you don’t have pre-existing kidney disease, you can still enjoy potassium and avocados in your diet.


10. Your Desire For Caffeine

This can be a tough decision especially if you need that mug of coffee first thing in the morning. Soft drinks, as well as tea, can also be dangerous if you are suffering from any kidney issues. Recent studies have shown that drinking a lot of caffeine can make matters even worse if you have chronic kidney disease.  Caffeine can also lead to kidney stones.

Caffeine is considered a mild diuretic that can affect your kidneys ability to take in water.  Taken moderately, there should be no issues for your kidneys but in excess, it can be problematic so take caution.


9. Watch Out For Dairy Items

Dairy products include milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and are loaded with calcium which will increase the level of calcium in the urine.  Dairy products have shown to increase the risk of developing kidney stones.

If you have kidney disease, cutting back on the consumption of dairy products can make filtering easier for your kidneys.  In turn, this can put off the need for future dialysis.

Butter is very high in saturated fat which can lead to heart disease.  This is also a high risk for kidney disease which is similar to the risk of heart disease.

You might want to choose an alternative such as olive oil. You can flavor olive oil with herbs to serve as a good choice for vegetables or as a topping for bread.  It will give you a great opportunity to cut back on butter.


8. Your Salt Intake

Sodium, like potassium, will help keep your fluid balance.  Fluid balance is crucial to your kidneys working properly.  Unfortunately, there is far too much salt in our foods already, even before we add salt.  Worse yet, processed products are loaded with tons of salt at an alarming level you probably can’t even imagine.

Keep in mind, too much sodium will force your kidneys to retain too much water and become unable to reduce the salt in your bloodstream.  This adds an unwanted burden on your kidneys.

Over time, too much salt will raise your blood pressure and can damage your kidneys’ nephrons Nephrons are microscopic structures that pull out waste. Your kidneys are made up of approximately one million nephrons that filter out waste.  Revamp your diet with fresh foods and control the level of salt you are taking in.

7. Those Artificial Sweeteners

You are not doing your body any favors by substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners. Although there are mixed reviews surrounding sweeteners as a substitute for sugar, keep in mind, just 2 diet sodas a day can decrease your kidneys’ functions.

Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners in beverages do not have less sugar than beverages with sugar.  You might want to look into Stevia as a good substitute for sugar.  Stevia is a natural herbal extract that is commonly used in South America and has been for many years without any adverse effects.


6. Meats You Eat

Meat contains a large amount of protein. Protein is very important for your overall growth process and needed health for your muscles. Unfortunately, meat makes it so much harder for your kidneys to do their job.

If your diet is high in animal fat, you could suffer from kidney stones and a high protein diet is not a good idea if you suffer from kidney disease. Meat also contains a high level of purine. Purine stimulates the production of uric acid which is a waste product that is processed out of your body by your kidneys. Too much meat will overwhelm your kidneys and lead to kidney stones.


5. Tomatoes

Some people think that tomatoes are a vegetable but actually, they are a high-potassium fruit and a popular choice for a renal diet.  Tomatoes are used in so many different ways including for making sauces, stewed, or sliced in salads. One cup of tomato sauce contains up to 900 mg of potassium-rich

Choosing an alternative with lower potassium depends on each individual’s taste.  That said, replacing tomato sauce with a roasted red pepper sauce is not always the favored choice even though this is a great sauce. On top of that, a red pepper sauce is actually much lower in potassium.


4. Sweet Potatoes & Potatoes

Both sweet potatoes and potatoes vegetables are rich in potassium.  a medium-sized baked potato has 610 mg of potassium and an average-sized baked sweet potato has only 541 mg of potassium.

Some high-potassium foods, including potatoes and sweet potatoes, are leached or soaked to reduce the level of potassium.  Cutting potatoes into small pieces or chunks and boiled for approximately 10 minutes can reduce the potassium level by approximately 50%.

Potatoes that are soaked in a large container of water for approximately 4 hrs before cooking are even lower in potassium than potatoes that are not soaked before cooking. This process is commonly known as a double cook method or potassium leaching.

Even though double cooking lowers the level of potassium, keep in mind the level of potassium is not completely eliminated using this method.

There is still a large amount of potassium present through the double-cooked process, it’s the best practice to control the portion to keep potassium levels controlled.


3. Oranges And Orange Juice

It’s a known fact that oranges are without doubt known for their vitamin C content and have rich levels of potassium.

One large orange offers 333 mg of potassium.  While there is 473 mg of potassium in one cup or 8 fluid ounces, of orange juice.

Given the level of potassium, oranges and orange juice should be avoided or at least limited, if you are on a renal diet.

Grapes, apples, and cranberries are excellent substitutes for oranges and orange juice because they are much lower in potassium.


2. Brown Rice

Brown rice is a whole grain that is higher in potassium and phosphorus than white rice.

One cup of brown rice that has been cooked contains 150 mg of phosphorus and 154 mg of potassium.  One cup of cooked white rice contains 69 mg of phosphorus and 54 mg of potassium.

It is possible to include brown rice in your renal diet but the portions must be controlled and balanced with other foods to make sure there is not an excessive level of potassium and phosphorus.

Bulgur, which is a cereal food,  buckwheat, pearled barley, and couscous are great substitutes for brown rice.  They are much lower in phosphorus, are nutritional, and good for your renal diet.


1. Canned Foods

Because they are convenient and cost less, many people choose to purchase canned foods like vegetables, beans, and soup.  That said, most canned foods are very high in sodium or salt that are added as a preservative for better shelf life.

Because of the high level of sodium in canned goods, people with kidney disease should stay away from or limit their intake of these products.  Your best choices are those canned goods labeled as “No Sodium Added”.



The foods and additives we have mentioned should be consumed in moderation because they can have adverse effects on your kidneys.  Most of these foods are not particularly dangerous if your kidneys are healthy but those diagnosed with kidney disease should stay away from most of these foods.

Remember, your kidneys are a vital part of your life.  They detox your body from wastes and unneeded elements.  Taking good care of your kidneys will prolong your life and your overall good health.