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Fresh, colorful and kidney-friendly fruits and vegetables aren’t just good—they’re good for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Powerful compounds called antioxidants found in certain foods may help protect you against other diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Antioxidants neutralize harmful molecules in your body called free radicals, the normal yet damaging byproducts created when your body produces energy, fights infection or is exposed to toxins. Antioxidant vitamins A, C and E available in supplement form can be harmful to people on dialysis, though many take a renal vitamin supplement that contains 60-100 mg of vitamin C per day as recommended by their doctor.
One of the best ways to get antioxidants is through food. Dietitians use colors in fruits and vegetables to identify antioxidants, which include:
Here are 10 colorful, high-antioxidant foods for the kidney diet.
Cranberries add a distinctive zing to sweet breads, muffins and other recipes like Easy Cranberry Salad. Enjoy dried cranberries sprinkled on a salad or on their own as a snack. You can also drink cranberry juice or cranberry juice cocktail.
Black plums are higher in antioxidants than red. Look for plums that have a fairly firm to slightly soft feel. Pit and freeze plums and add them to smoothies, purée them for Quick Fruit Sorbet or try Old-Fashioned Plum Cake.
Sprinkle fresh berries on your cereal or oatmeal, use frozen ones in smoothies or bake them into pies such as More Momma’s Blackberry Mountain Pie. Use berries in unexpected ways to bring out the flavor of meats, including this recipe for Raspberry Wings.
This tiny antioxidant powerhouse is available in fresh, bottled, minced or powdered form to use in Garlic Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar or another savory dish. Roasting a head of garlic mellows its flavor and makes a soft, delicious spread for bread.
Add fresh strawberries to cereal and salads, or combine them with angel food cake and whipped topping for a summertime dessert. Fresh or frozen strawberries pump up antioxidant power in smoothies and desserts, from Strawberry Mousse to Red, White and Blue Salad.
8. Red bell peppers
Eat red bell peppers raw with dip as a snack, or mix them into tuna or chicken salad and serve on crackers or bread. Roast peppers and use them as a topping on sandwiches, chop them for an omelet or add them to kabobs on the grill.
9. Red cabbage
Ounce for ounce, cooked cabbage contains more antioxidants than raw. Steam, boil or microwave red cabbage for a nutritious side dish. It’s also good in main dishes like Cabbage Rolls with Turkey. Raw red cabbage can be used for coleslaw or Cabbage Salad.
10. Red leaf lettuce
The red or purple color that distinguishes red leaf lettuce from the ordinary kind contains small amounts of the powerful antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein. Wash leaves carefully and use within three days for the best taste. Try it by making Chicken Lettuce Wraps.
Bonus: Adding spices such as cinnamon, curry powder, pepper, oregano and turmeric to food adds more than flavor; they are concentrated sources of antioxidants and can contribute to your intake, even when consumed in small amounts.
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