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Vegetarian Options: 6 Soy Foods for a Kidney Diet

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician.

Soy beans and soy bean products were once hard-to-find offerings that are now available at most grocery stores and can be included in your kidney diet.

Benefits of soy

Soy foods may be beneficial for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD)dialysis patients and those with a kidney transplant as a low-saturated fat, cholesterol-free meat replacement. Similar to animal protein, soy is also a high quality protein, but is plant-based instead. Unlike meats, soy protein is cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.

Concerns about soy

Soy products are made from soy beans, which are naturally high in potassium and phosphorus. Use the Food Analyzer on DaVita Diet Helper to check the amount of potassium and phosphorus in soy products. The amount of sodium in soy foods ranges from low to very high, so reading labels is essential.

People who are allergic to soy or those with thyroid problems should avoid soy- based foods and drinks. There is also concern about the high level of isoflavones in soy, which has an estrogen-like effect in the body. For this reason, it is recommended to keep soy intake to a moderate amount. Work with your dietitian when adding new soy foods to your diet.

Here are 6 soy foods you can include in your kidney-friendly diet:

1. Edamame

Edamame are large soybeans that are harvested while still green, usually frozen in the pod or shelled and are typically served as an appetizer. The potassium content is approximately three times that of a serving of animal protein providing the same amount of protein.

2. Soy milk

Soy milk is made from whole soy beans that are soaked, ground, then strained. It is available flavored and unflavored, refrigerated or unrefrigerated. Read the nutrition labels to check for calcium, phosphorus and potassium levels.

3. Soy protein isolate

Soy protein isolate is what's left once the soy oil is removed from the soy bean. It's added to protein or energy bars, protein shakes and cereals, and is sold in canisters as soy protein powder. Brands processed with potassium can contain as much as 450 mg of potassium per ounce, so be sure to read nutrition labels.

4. Tempeh

Tempeh is a nutty-flavored cake made from whole soybeans mixed with rice or millet, then fermented. It can be grilled, or added to a stir-fry or casserole dish.

5. Texturized soy protein (TSP)

Also known as texturized vegetable protein (TVP), or soy meat, TSP is typically used as a meat substitute, such as veggie burgers, tofu hot dogs, etc. People with kidney disease following a low-potassium diet should evaluate TSP-containing foods before consuming.

6. Tofu

Tofu, also known as soybean curd, comes in several forms, from very soft (silken) to firm and can be prepared in many ways, including grilling, sautéing, baking and even adding it to smoothies!    

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