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Caribbean: Protein and the Kidney Diet


Making healthy food choices is important to us all, but it is even more important if you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Good nutrition gives you energy to do your daily tasks, prevent infection, build muscle, help maintain a healthy weight— and it may keep your kidney disease from getting worse.

Your kidneys help keep the right balance of nutrients and minerals in your body. But if you have kidney disease, your kidneys may not do this job very well. There are five key nutrients you may need to control: Protein, Sodium, Fluid, Potassium, and Phosphorus. Additional handouts will give you more information about each of the key nutrients. Eating the right amount of each of these can help control the buildup of waste and fluid in your blood.

Let’s see how protein fits into the kidney diet.

Why is protein important?

  • Protein helps build muscles, repair tissue, and fight infection

How much protein should I have?

For people with early kidney disease who are well nourished, not eating an excess amount of protein may help to:

  • Prevent wastes from building up in blood
  • Keep kidneys working longer

The type of protein matters because protein from plants, such as nuts and beans, may be better for your kidneys than proteins from animals, such as red meat and dairy. Talk to a dietitian for specifics that apply to your kidney health and food preferences.

For people on dialysis eating more protein will help:

  • Replace protein lost during dialysis
  • Prevent malnutrition

Use your hand as a guide to help with a serving size of protein.  The palm of your hand is about three ounces. The size of your thumb is about one ounce. Ask your doctor about meeting with a registered dietitian with special training in kidney disease to help you manage your protein intake. 

Sources of Animal Protein:

  • Curried goat
  • Jerk chicken or pork
  • Picadillo (ground pork or beef)
  • Callaloo (crab or fish soup)
  • Conch (chowder or fritters)
  • Ceviche
  • Asopao (chicken/meat/seafood stew)
  • Roti (goat, chicken, shrimp, pork
  • Ropa vieja (shredded beef)

Sources of Plant Protein

  • Beans (kidney beans, black beans)
  • Pigeon peas
  • Roti (chickpea curry)

Best changes to lower protein intake

  • Use vegetable and grains as your main dish and meats or beans as your side dish
  • Make kabobs with smaller pieces of meat and more vegetables or fruit
  • Make casseroles with smaller amounts of meat and increase the vegetables, rice, pasta, or polenta

Best changes to increase protein intake

  • Increase portion sizes of protein foods
  • Eat more eggs throughout the day
  • If needed and recommended by your dietitian, use an allowed protein supplement

Nutrition Facts for Select Caribbean Foods

*Values approximate based on recipe*

Golden apple (1 small)

  • 73.5 Calories
  • 0.361g Protein
  • 2.58mg Sodium
  • 129mg Potassium
  • 12.9mg Phosphorus

Pineapple (½ cup)

  • 41 Calories
  • 0.44g Protein
  • 0.82mg Sodium
  • 90mg Potassium
  • 6.5mg Phosphorus

Tangerine (1 small)

  • 40.3 Calories
  • 0.616g Protein
  • 1.52mg Sodium
  • 126mg Potassium
  • 15.2mg Phosphorus

Chayote/cho-cho/christophene (½ cup)

  • 12.5 Calories
  • 0.5g Protein
  • 1.32mg Sodium
  • 82.5mg Potassium
  • 11.9mg Phosphorus

Jicama (½ cup)

  • 24.7 Calories
  • 0.36g Protein
  • 2.6mg Sodium
  • 97.5mg Potassium
  • 11.7mg Phosphorus

Okra/ochro (½ cup)

  • 33 Calories
  • 1.93g Protein
  • 7mg Sodium
  • 150mg Potassium
  • 30.5mg Phosphorus

Nopale (cactus) (½ cup)

  • 6.9 Calories
  • 0.57g Protein
  • 9mg Sodium
  • 110mg Potassium
  • 6.9mg Phosphorus

Cornmeal porridge (½ cup)

  • 221 Calories
  • 4.5g Protein
  • 21mg Sodium
  • 175mg Potassium
  • 147mg Phosphorus

Curried goat (100g)

  • 109 Calories
  • 20.6g Protein
  • 82mg Sodium
  • 385mg Potassium
  • 180mg Phosphorus

Ceviche (½ cup)

  • 62 Calories
  • 10.3g Protein
  • 158mg Sodium
  • 286mg Potassium
  • 106mg Phosphorus

Paella (1.5 cup)

  • 289 Calories
  • 3g Protein
  • 150mg Sodium
  • 407mg Potassium
  • 183mg Phosphorus

Picadillo (¾ cup)

  • 162 Calories
  • 18g Protein
  • 133mg Sodium
  • 380mg Potassium
  • 152mg Phosphorus

Rice with pigeon peas (½ cup)

  • 216 Calories
  • 5g Protein
  • 162mg Sodium
  • 239mg Potassium
  • 173mg Phosphorus

Jerk chicken (½ breast)

  • 113 Calories
  • 16g Protein
  • 161mg Sodium
  • 192mg Potassium
  • 217mg Phosphorus

Roti (1 piece)

  • 129 Calories
  • 3.38g Protein
  • 128mg Sodium
  • 84.3mg Potassium
  • 67.9mg Phosphorus

Recipe: Beef Picadillo

Beef Picadillo is a tasty Caribbean dish rich in protein, perfect for patients with kidney disease. Made with lean ground beef, onion, red and green bell peppers, garlic, olive oil, cumin, oregano, turmeric, and apple cider vinegar. This meal provides a good amount of protein while keeping potassium and sodium levels in check. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

Beef Picadillo

Beef Picadillo Recipe

Lean ground beef with bell peppers and spices, perfect for CKD patients. Simple, flavorful, and low-sodium.

This content is provided for informational use only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for the medical advice of a healthcare professional.

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