This article was written by dietetic student Yuning Liu & reviewed by Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG.
While some people eat 3 meals a day, others may spread out their food and eat smaller meals and some snacks. After all, it is up to you to decide when and what to eat.
However, food choices and meal planning can be overwhelming and challenging with kidney disease. This post features some great renal diet snacks for you. Let’s try them out!
*Please note that this post contains clearly identified affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases (at no extra cost to you).
Benefits of Renal Diet Snacks
Even though snacks sometime get a bad rap, snacks can be an important part of your diet. Eating healthy, delicious snacks in between meals is a fantastic way to control hunger, and help you make healthier food choices at meals. In addition, snacks are a great opportunity to add more fruits and vegetables to your day, which are so important for a renal diet.
Choose the Right Renal Diet Snacks
Walk down the snacks aisle of your local grocery store, and you’ll find a wide array of snack options. However, if you have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), it is best to avoid certain ingredients in snack foods.
By learning about what a renal diet looks like for you, renal diet snacks can be a healthy and tasty part of your day!
How to Snatch Renal Diet Snacks at the Grocery Store
Read the Labels
Walking down the snack aisle, you may be mesmerized by the variety of options. But, how do you know which is appropriate for you? The simple way is to flip the package over and read the labels.
Usually, you are looking for something with a low sodium level, which means <140 mg per serving.
If your labs show high potassium levels, it is a good idea to watch how much potassium you eat. Low potassium snacks have less than 200 milligrams (mg) of potassium per serving.
It is a good idea to check for ingredients that have potassium in them too! Potassium ingredients add extra (highly absorbable!) potassium to your snack. They are especially common in “low sugar” or “sugar free” products.
Also, don’t forget about phosphorus. Usually, you don’t need to worry about natural phosphorus in grains, beans, legumes and vegetables. It is the phosphorus added to food that should be limited.
You can often find phosphorus additives in highly processed snack foods like snack mixes, lunch meat, bacon, jerky, and frozen prepared foods.
Whole Foods Come First
Whole foods are those that remain as close as possible to their state in nature. Without artificial processing, whole foods retain nearly all of their nutrients and are less likely to have harmful ingredients added to them.
Choose Fruit for Snacks
Let’s start with fruit! Fruit makes the perfect renal diet snack. Many fruits are pre-portioned and easy to bring with you.
Try these wonderful fruit choices for a renal diet:
Don’t Pass Up Vegetables
Then, we have to talk about vegetables. Vegetables are a great way to TAKE SOME WORK OFF YOUR KIDNEYS!
Try to grab some fresh broccoli, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, celery or snap peas. They are not just delicious, but also beneficial for your kidneys and general health.
Crunch on Nuts & Seeds
Finally, don’t forget about unsalted nuts and seeds! These plant proteins are a wonderful heart and kidney friendly snack choice. Look for unsalted or lightly salted options to bring down sodium. Keep your portion size to ¼ cup if you need to limit potassium.
My Top 10 Favorite Renal Snack Ideas
This is unexpected, right? But, yes, you can still enjoy popcorn on a renal diet. Popcorn is a great source of fiber and helps with digestion. Of course, tons of salt and butter can be problematic. Pop your own popcorn at home.
If you go with pre-popped popcorn, remember to read the labels and look for “low sodium” or “lightly salted” versions. Skinny Pop* is my favorite store-bought popcorn with only 75 mg of sodium per 4 cups!
Low-sodium Crackers, Pita Chips or Unsalted Pretzels
Who doesn’t like crunchy crackers and pretzels? Just remember to check nutrition labels and avoid added phosphorus.
I love these low sodium tortilla chips*!
You’ll always find grapes at the grocery store. This year-round fruit is not only delicious, but also delivers a ton of nutrition in a small package.
These sweet fruits are kidney-friendly too! A 1/2 cup of grapes contains only 2 mg of sodium, 144 mg potassium and 15mg of phosphorus.
Just like the other tree nuts, walnuts have a ton of benefit to your health. Most importantly, walnuts are the only nut with a significant amount of Omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acids that are beneficial for heart & brain health.
Nuts, and other plant proteins, are associated with a reduced risk of end-stage renal disease and delayed progression. (x) Since walnuts are so packed with fiber and healthy fat, just a handful can fill you up.
Make sure to check the labels and select unsalted walnuts! These raw walnuts* are a great option – they have 0mg sodium, 120mg potassium, and 160mg natural phosphorus per serving.
Cow’s milk dairy can have quite a bit of potassium & phosphorus in it. Non-dairy yogurt and milk tends to be lower! Try yogurt made from coconut, oat, cashew or almond milk. As always, look out for phosphorus additives in these products.
If you are a coconut fan, try this coconut yogurt* with some berries!
Green Pea Snaps!
I’m obsessed with these green pea snaps*. They are such a fun way to get in some extra veggies. The lightly salted version only has 75mg of sodium per serving!
Animal or Graham Crackers
Seeds are a great plant based protein packed with fiber. My favorite seeds to snack on are sunflower and pumpkin seeds! Just look for “low sodium” or “lightly salted” options to keep the salt in check.
Rice cakes don’t have to be boring! Top them with a nut butter or a smear of avocado. Or, try flavored rice cakes (check the sodium on these)! I love apple cinnamon*!
Though small in size, blueberries are truly a nutritional powerhouse! They are is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. In particular, blueberries contain a group of antioxidants called anthocyanins, which may protect against heart disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline, and diabetes. (e)
Also, blueberries are a fantastic addition to a renal diet. Blueberries are low in sodium, phosphorus, and potassium. Can you imagine that one cup of fresh blueberries has only 2 mg sodium, 114 mg of potassium and 18 mg of phosphorus?
Renal Diet Snacks to Limit
Now that we have covered so many great renal diet snacks, it’s time to call out some foods that are not the best choice for kidney health.
Although super delicious, cheese puffs have around 250mg sodium per serving. Many brands also have phosphorus additives.
Potato chips are crispy and yummy, but they may not be the best renal diet snack to have all the time. One serving of potato chips has about 160 mg of sodium. If you really love crunchy chips, try lightly salted tortilla chips* for a more kidney-friendly option!
Beef and other types of jerky are a popular and convenient snack, but not a good option for a renal diet. Since it is highly processed, beef jerky usually has large amounts of sodium and phosphate additives that can hurt kidneys.
Lunchmeat & Other Processed Meats
Just like beef jerky, lunch meat is high in sodium, artificial phosphorus and often has potassium additives too! Avoid processed meats like salami, pepperoni, bologna and other deli meats.
Are these renal diet snacks not enough? Check out the kidney friendly grocery list for a more complete renal diet list. Also, find delicious and kidney-friendly recipes in my recommended renal diet cookbooks!