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Heart-Healthy Diet for Dialysis Patients

Provided by DaVita® Dietitians

It is a challenge to follow a heart-healthy and kidney diet when you’re on dialysis, because many heart-healthy foods are high in potassium and phosphorus. For example, nuts, seeds and avocados are good sources of healthy fats, but are not recommended for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Your dietitian can help you make choices that are right for your diet prescription. DaVita dietitians created a grocery list full of heart- and kidney-friendly items. To start, you’ll need to know which fats are good for you and which you should avoid.

Fats for heart health: What to choose and what to avoid

Keep your heart healthy by choosing good fats such as monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Choose foods low in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids.

Choose monounsaturated fats: These are good fats that help lower bad cholesterol in our bodies. Good sources are canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil.

Choose polyunsaturated fats: These also help lower bad cholesterol and are similar to monounsaturated fats because they are plant-based and liquid at room temperature. Good sources include safflower, sunflower and soybean oils.

Choose omega-3 fatty: These fatty acids have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease. Good sources are fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, rainbow trout and mackerel.

Limit saturated fats: These generally come from animal products and are solid or waxy at room temperature. Limit chicken skin, high-fat cuts of meat, fried and fast food, cheese, butter, whole milk, ice cream and coconut oil, and palm and palm kernel oils found in processed and baked foods.

Avoid trans-fats: This unhealthy “hidden” saturated fat is found in many processed foods such as stick margarine, vegetable shortening, whipped toppings and commercially-baked cookies, cakes and crackers. Look for trans-fat listed on the nutrition label of all packaged foods.

Heart-healthy grocery list for dialysis patients

Stock a heart- and kidney-friendly kitchen with these recommended items from DaVita dietitians. In recent years more research has led to a less restrictive diet with natural whole grain products. Work with your dietitian to include your favorite grains.

Dairy and dairy alternatives

1% or non-fat cottage cheese1% or non-fat milk (limit dairy to 1/2 cup per day)

1% or non-fat milk (limit dairy to 1/2 cup per day)

Italian ice and sorbet

Light or non-fat sour cream

Low-fat or non-fat cream cheese

Low-fat soymilk (unenriched)

Local or regional milk alternatives may be available (check with your dietitian)

Non-fat, non-dairy creamer (avoid those with phosphate additives)

Rice milk, unenriched


Fruits and vegetables

Tip: Refer to the “Potassium and Chronic Kidney Disease”article for list of potassium-appropriate fruits and vegetables. Also, prepare without butter, lard, bacon fat, margarine or fatback.


Apricots (limit 2)



Green beans

Strawberries (limit 5)

Meats and eggs

Chicken without the skin: baked, grilled or broiled, not fried

Fresh and saltwater seafood (avoid the bones which may be in sardines and canned salmon)

Lean cuts of beef/veal (tenderloin, eye/top/bottom round)

Lean ground beef, chicken or turkey (choose at least 90% lean)

Lean pork (pork tenderloin, loin roast, sirloin/loin chops)

Turkey without the skin, turkey breast and tenders

Wild game (venison, dove, quail, pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, goat and frog)

Whole eggs, egg whites, Eggsland’s Best Eggs® and egg substitutes such as Egg Beaters®


Cream of Wheat or Rice®, Malt-o-Meal® and grits (not instant)

Corn Flakes®, Corn or Rice Chex® and Rice Krispies®

Flour tortillas

Oatmeal (contains phosphorus, so check with your dietitian)

White or whole wheat pasta, macaroni or noodles, white or wild rice, bulgur, buckwheat, couscous and pearled barley, potatoes (leeched or double-boiled)

Rye, sourdough, white  or whole wheat bread, bagels, English muffins, hamburger or hot dog buns, dinner rolls, hard rolls and pita bread

Approved fats

Cholesterol-lowering margarines such as Benecol® or Take Control®

Oils (corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower, canola, olive and peanut)

Reduced or fat-free mayonnaise, salad dressing and sour cream, and gravy made from skimmed broth

Tub, squeeze, or spray margarine (no stick margarine or butter)

Snacks and desserts

Balance® high-protein bars and Zone Perfect® nutrition bars

Italian ice, sorbet, Popsicles® and frozen fruit bars

Low-fat cookies and cakes such as angel food cake

Low-fat microwave or air-popped corn

Rice or popcorn cakes

Unsalted pretzels and crackers


Clear sodas (Sprite® and 7-Up®), orange soda and ginger ale

Crystal Light® (avoid products with added calcium or phosphorus)

Cranberry, grape or apple juice, or homemade lemonade (avoid those with calcium, potassium or phosphate additives)

Regular or decaf coffee or tea

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