Your Kidney Health: The Best Foods for Kidney Health

Learn what your kidneys do and how to take care of them

By Alexa Fry

How often do you think about your kidneys and kidney health? If you’re like most people – not very often. These mighty and vital organs are essential to good health and wellness and need to be cared for.

It’s our mission to get you talking about your kidneys and kidney health with your family, friends, and healthcare practitioner. True fact – your kidneys are fascinating, and there is so much you can do to look after them and keep them working for you. 

Keep reading to learn the role your kidneys have in your total body health, the best foods for kidney health, and how you can keep your kidneys healthy.

Kidney Facts You Need to Know

The more you know about your kidneys, the easier it is to be proactive in looking after them. Below, are some key facts about your powerful kidneys.1,2,3,4,5,6

  • Most people are born with two kidneys, and some are born with one kidney. You can live a healthy and full life with one kidney.
  • Kidneys are small, fist-sized, bean-shaped organs located below your rib cage on both sides of your spine.
  • This vital organ is essential to health and part of your urinary tract.
  • Kidneys are your body’s filtration system, removing waste materials created by medications, food, and toxic substances. These organs manage your overall fluid balance and produce urine.
  • Kidneys are active in managing and controlling the substances in your blood, helping to regulate the mineral balance. The kidneys are responsible for making essential hormones required to support bone health, manage blood pressure, and create red blood cells. 

Your Kidneys and Your Health

As you learn about your kidneys and the critical role they have in your health, keep in mind these statistics:6

  • An estimated 37 million U.S. adults, or more than 1 in 7 people, have chronic kidney disease. 
  • 40% of people living with chronic kidney disease are undiagnosed.
  • In the U.S., 3 out of 4 new cases of kidney failure are caused by diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Your kidney health has an integral role in your overall health. Your kidneys are your natural filter, removing excess fluid and waste from your blood, regulating electrolyte levels, monitoring and maintaining your overall fluid balance, and produce hormones your body needs to function optimally. 

Here are 8 ways your kidneys are connected to your whole-body health and wellness: 3,7,8,9,10

  1. Waste elimination. The main role of your kidneys is to filter waste products and excess fluids from the blood, creating urine. Poor kidney function may result in the buildup of toxins, leading to various health issues.
  2. Blood pressure regulation. The kidneys help regulate blood pressure by controlling the volume of blood and releasing hormones like renin. High blood pressure may contribute to kidney damage, and kidney issues may result in health issues such as hypertension.
  3. Electrolyte balance. Healthy kidney function ensures the electrolyte balance, including sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphate in the body. Imbalances may impact muscle function, nerve function, and heart rhythm.
  4. Acid-base balance. Kidneys help maintain your body's acid-base balance, which is essential for overall health. Kidney dysfunction may contribute to acidosis or alkalosis, potentially disrupting various bodily functions.
  5. Bone health. Kidneys help activate vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption and bone health. Your kidneys have a key role in calcium regulation and phosphate homeostasis, both of which are vital for bone development and mineralization. 
  6. Red blood cell production. The hormone erythropoietin is produced by the kidneys and stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Kidney problems may contribute to anemia and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity.
  7. Immune system support. The kidneys contribute to the immune system by filtering out harmful substances and producing certain proteins that help fight infection. Your kidneys have an important role in maintaining immune system homeostasis. 
  8. Nutrient metabolism. The kidneys are involved in metabolizing and excreting various substances, including drugs and toxins. Poor kidney health may affect the metabolism of medications and lead to adverse effects.

Best Foods for Kidney Health

The great news is, you can do so much to support your kidneys and keep them healthy. What you eat has a major role in supporting kidney health.13,14,15

In general, eating a healthy balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, unprocessed or minimally processed foods, whole grains, and healthy fats goes a long way in supporting your kidney health. Ingredients like added sodium, sugar, and phosphorous can have a negative impact on your kidneys and overall health.16

These are some of the best foods for kidney health (extra bonus – they taste delicious): 13, 14, 15

  • Fruits including blueberries, red grapes, pomegranates, strawberries, apples, cherries, açai berries, pineapple, cranberries, and citrus fruits. These foods are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.  
  • Vegetables including cauliflower, leafy greens, bell peppers, root vegetables, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, avocado, garlic, cabbage, and onions. All of these foods are high in essential vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. 
  • Healthy oils and fats including avocado, flaxseed, canola, olive, grapeseed, sunflower, sesame, and walnut oils. These oils and fats are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and are beneficial in supporting the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
  • Protein sources including fish, shellfish, skinless chicken, egg whites, and tofu. These foods are high in vitamins and minerals and when prepared in a healthy way, low in sodium and phosphorous.
  • Whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, yogurt, low phosphorous cheese, and milk alternatives are also part of a healthy kidney diet. 

If you have been diagnosed with a kidney condition, please adhere to the dietary direction provided by your healthcare practitioner. Depending on your kidney health status, your healthcare practitioner may recommend the renal diet. The renal diet is recognized for helping to promote kidney health.  

You are what you eat and what you do. Your kidney and overall health wins when you have an active lifestyle, stop smoking, limit alcohol consumption, pay attention to sugar, phosphorous, and sodium consumption, maintain a healthy weight, drink plenty of fluids, and manage your blood pressure.13

We applaud you for learning about your kidneys and how you can take care of them. Here’s to lifelong health and wellness. 


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  1. American Kidney Fund. “Introduction to your kidneys.” Accessed February 23, 2024.
  2. BetterHealthChannel. “Kidneys.” 2022, Accessed February 23, 2024
  3. Cleveland Clinic Staff. “Kidney.” 2022, Accessed February 23, 2024.
  4. Stephens, Carissa. “Kidney overview.”, 2018, Accessed February 23, 2024.
  5. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Your kidneys & how they work.” 2018, Accessed February 23, 2024.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Chronic kidney disease basics.” 2022, Accessed February 23, 2024.
  7. Cleveland Clinic Staff. “Renin.” 2022, Accessed February 26, 2024.
  8. National Kidney Foundation. “Metabolic acidosis.” Accessed February 26, 2024.
  9. Wei, Kai et al. “Roles of the kidney in the formation, remodeling and repair of bone.” Journal of Nephrology. 2016, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 349-57. Accessed February 26, 2024.
  10. Michael Garron Hospital. “Exploring the role and function of the kidneys.” 2019, Accessed February 26, 2024.
  11. Tecklenborg J. et al. “The role of the immune system in kidney disease.” Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 2018, vol. 192, no. 2, pp. 142-150. Accessed February 26, 2024.
  12. Silva, Pedro H. I., & Nilufar Mohebbi. “Kidney metabolism and acid-base control: Back to the basics.” Pflugers Archiv. 2022, vol. 474, no. 8, pp. 919-34. Accessed February 26, 2024.
  13. Soliman, Megan. “8 Ways to Keep Your Kidneys Health.”, 2023. Accessed February 26, 2024.
  14. Jones, Jerlyn. “The 20 Best Foods for People with Kidney Disease.”, 2023. Accessed February 26, 2024.
  15. National Kidney Foundation. “Superfoods.” Accessed February 26, 2024.
  16. Jones, Jerlyn. “5 Foods to Avoid with Kidney Disease.”, 2023. Accessed February 26, 2024.
  17. Cleveland Clinic Staff. “Renal Diet Basics.” 2021, Accessed February 26, 2024.

Alexa Fry is a health educator with a certificate in technical writing and 10 years of experience in the medical field. She has held roles as a science writer and clinical trial specialist at the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service. She also wrote, edited, and coordinated content for,, and Alexa is passionate about making meaningful, actionable medical information available to everyone.