Kidney-Friendly Plant-Based Proteins
The benefits of adding more plant-based foods to your diet are vast, from decreasing the risk of heart disease to improving digestion. Individuals with kidney disease can equally benefit from eating more plant-based foods, but finding kidney-friendly protein sources can be challenging. Here are some tips to include more plant-based proteins in your kidney-friendly meals.
Read the Labels
Plant-based or not, you should always be aware of the amounts of sodium, phosphorus, and potassium in your food. Individuals with kidney disease need to watch their intake of these nutrients, so always check the nutrition labels. Processed plant-based proteins, such as meat alternatives and ready-made meals, may contain high amounts of sodium. Many processed plant-based foods can also be fortified with phosphorus to enhance flavor. Check the ingredient lists for any added phosphates that you want to avoid.
Diversify Your Sources of Protein
Contrary to popular belief, it’s more than possible to get enough protein from plants! Whole foods such as beans, legumes, nuts, and whole grains are excellent plant-based protein sources for kidney disease. Tofu and soy-based products can contain just as much protein as a portion of meat, but be careful of the overly-processed foods. Just because it’s plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy! Plant-based proteins also contain fewer essential amino acids, which is why it’s important to diversify your protein sources. Doing this will ensure your body is still getting all the nutrients it needs!
Speak With Your Physician
The amount of protein you need depends on many factors, including weight, age, and the severity of your kidney disease. Whether or not you are on dialysis will also impact the amount of protein your kidneys can handle. Including more plant-based sources of protein can help decrease your overall protein intake. Your physician and dietitian can help you better understand how much protein you need— it’s a careful balance between getting too much and not having enough!