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High-Sodium Foods to Limit When You Have Kidney Disease

Provided by DaVita® Dietitians

Most people think that salt and sodium are the same. Salt is actually the mineral compound sodium chloride. Foods we eat may contain sodium chloride (salt) or sodium in other forms.

Although your body needs sodium to function, too much sodium can be bad when you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Normally, sodium helps maintain the right fluid balance in your body. But in later stages of CKD, your kidneys cannot get rid of excess sodium and fluid.  The sodium and fluid can build up in your body, causing your blood pressure to rise and increasing damage to your kidneys.

If you have CKD or require dialysis, your doctor or your renal dietitian may advise you to follow a low-sodium diet that includes limiting salt and other sodium-containing ingredients.

Problems from too much sodium

If you get too much sodium in your diet, the extra sodium and water in your body may cause problems such as:

  • Swelling of the hands, feet, face or legs
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (from fluid in the lungs)
  • Higher blood pressure and extra strain on the heart
  • Cramping and blood pressure drops during dialysis

To prevent these problems, you will need to limit or cut out salty foods. Doing so may also help you control how much fluid you drink because high-sodium foods cause thirst.

Foods high in sodium

It’s good to be mindful about the sodium content of the foods you eat. Start by checking labels when you’re buying food at the supermarket. Also, avoiding potassium chloride-based salt substitutes and products made with salt substitutes is recommended for people with kidney disease on a potassium limit because they are high in potassium

Here are just some of the foods that can contain high amounts of sodium:

Salt and salt seasonings

Bouillon cubes and granules

Flavored salt, including garlic, celery and onion salt

Kosher salt

Lemon pepper

Lite salt

Meat tenderizer

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Sea salt

Seasoning salt

Table salt

Sauces

Barbecue sauce

Catsup

Marinades

Soy sauce

Steak sauce

Teriyaki sauce

Salty snack foods

Corn chips

Nuts

Potato chips

Pretzels (unless unsalted)

Pumpkin seeds

Salted crackers

Salted popcorn

Tortilla chips

Cured foods

Bacon

Ham and lunch meats

Olives

Pickles

Relishes

Salty pork

Sauerkraut

 

Sausage

Dairy

Buttermilk

Cheese

Instant pudding mix

 

Canned goods

Beef entrées

Canned vegetables (unless canned without salt)

Soups (unless low-salt; check the label carefully as most low salt soups contain potassium)

Tomato products

Vegetable juices

 

Convenience foods

Chili

Chinese food

Dry soup mixes

Fast food

Frozen dinners and entrees

Frozen prepared foods

Macaroni and cheese

Ramen noodles

Summary

People with kidney disease need to be especially careful of the amount of sodium in their kidney diets because of sodium’s tendency to raise blood pressure, increase fluid retention and lead to serious health issues. Your dietitian can help you figure out a low-sodium eating plan that is right for you. Knowing which foods are high in sodium and then eating less of them can help support your overall health.

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