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Keep Your Kidneys Healthy: 5 Foods To Avoid

The first step in healthy eating is having the right foods stocked in your kitchen. Because many foods are hidden sources of sugar and sodium, it is important to know what's really in your refrigerator. The two leading causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, but when these conditions are controlled, kidney disease can often be prevented or slowed down. Making healthy food choices and controlling sugar, fat, sodium and salt intake can make a big difference in managing the risk factors for kidney disease and protecting the kidneys. Keep these 5 foods out of your daily diet to keep your kidneys healthy:

1) Soda: Steer clear! Soda provides no nutritional benefit and is packed with sugars -- either natural or chemically manufactured. This equates to extra calories in your diet and can ultimately result in unwanted weight gain. A typical 12 oz. cola has 152 calories, and in some places, this is considered a small serving of soda! There are stores in the United States that sell soda in 50 oz. servings! Studies have linked sodas to conditions like osteoporosis, kidney disease, metabolic syndrome and dental problems. Diet sodas may be lower in calories, but still provide no nutritional value and often contain additives, including artificial sweeteners. Skip the soda and reach for water instead. If you don't like the taste of plain water, add a slice or two of fresh fruit to add flavor.

2) Processed deli meats: Scrap cold cuts like bologna and ham from your diet! Processed meats can be significant sources of sodium and also nitrates, which have been linked to cancer. Choose leaner meats like fresh roasted turkey or chicken and always opt for the low sodium, low nitrate meats.

3) Butter: Skimp on the spread! Butter is made from animal fat and contains cholesterol, calories and high levels of saturated fat. Margarine is made from vegetable oil and is higher in the "good" fats, but may not be a better choice because it often contains trans fats. When possible, use canola or olive oil instead. If you opt for a spread, go for one that is lower in calories and saturated fat and contains no trans fats.

4) Mayonnaise: One tablespoon of mayonnaise contains a whopping 103 calories! Not only is it high in calories, it also contains high levels of saturated fat. Lower calorie and fat-free mayonnaises are available on the market, but they are often higher in sodium and sugar, and may contain other additives. A healthier swap involves replacing your mayonnaise with plain non-fat Greek yogurt, which is high in protein and mixes nicely to bind salads.

5) Frozen meals: Studies have shown that processed foods may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and frozen or pre-made meals like frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners are often heavily processed. Heavy processing can mean hidden sugar, sodium and fat; however, not all frozen meals are created equal! It is always a good idea to prepare fresh and whole foods when you can, but if sometimes convenience is key, so if you opt for frozen meals, read the labels carefully. Look for those that are "low sodium" or "no sodium added" and avoid frozen meals with added sugar, fillers or any other additives. Balance out the meal by adding in fresh fruit and vegetables if they are not included in the frozen meal.

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