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Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are typically affordable year-round and can add a variety of nutrients to the diet. Root vegetables, which grow underground, include carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery root, ginger, turmeric, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, yucca, and yams. Root vegetables also come in the form of bulbs which include onions, garlic, shallots, and fennel. Some are available as a pill. Talk with your healthcare professional before using.

Why are root vegetables a superfood?

Root vegetables are very high in fiber which can help to fill your stomach while also promoting the movement of foods through your digestive tract. These vegetables can also last for an extended period of time when stored correctly in the kitchen which can help to stretch food dollars and minimize trips to the market. 

Other reasons root vegetables are superfoods:

  • Many root vegetables contain antioxidants that can help to fight inflammation.
  • They provide many nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin A, many B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. 
  • They are low in calories and can add beautiful color to the plate

Root vegetables and kidney disease

Some of these vegetables will be higher in potassium including potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, yams, and yuca. The amount of potassium you may have depends on your stage of kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease and kidney transplant recipients

Most people with early-stage CKD or a kidney transplant do not have to limit root vegetables because of potassium. If your laboratory results show higher levels of potassium, your doctor or kidney dietitian may talk with you about how much to eat.

Hemodialysis (3 times a week)

Talk to your kidney dietitian to limit higher potassium foods. The double boiling method could be helpful if you enjoy consuming some of these higher potassium root vegetables. 

To double boil: 

  1. Peel and slice 
  2. Bring to boil
  3. Drain
  4. Add new water and finish cooking.

Daily home and nocturnal hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis

These types of dialysis can remove more potassium, so you may need to eat more potassium-rich foods. Root vegetables are a good way to add potassium to your diet.

Kidney stones

If you are a calcium oxalate stone former, talk with your doctor or kidney dietitian about the need to limit oxalates. Some root vegetables are higher in oxalates.

Some tips for preparing these tasty roots

  • Always wash your produce.
  • Peel roots including potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, beets, carrots, ginger, parsnips,
  • rutabagas and yuca.
  • You can boil these (twice if needed) and mash them up like you would a potato.
  • You can cut the root vegetables and roast them on a sheet pan after drizzling with a canola or olive oil and sprinkling them with your favorite herbs and spices. 
  • They could also be grilled on skewers or in aluminum foil.
  • Limit adding salt to cooking these vegetables if you are on a sodium-restricted diet.

Recipe

Glazed carrots

Serving size: ½ cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

  1. Wash and peel carrots.
  2. Boil for about 15-20 minutes or until fork-tender.
  3. Drain carrots.
  4. Melt butter and sugar to form a sauce.
  5. Pour sauce and pepper over carrots.
  6. Toss and serve.

Nutritional facts per serving

Calories 124
Carbohydrates 24.4 g
Dietary fiber 3.2 g
Protein 1.1 g
Fat 3.2 g
Saturated fat 1.8 g
Sodium 82.5 mg
Potassium 383 mg
Calcium 50 mg
Phosphorus 41.2 mg

For more information, contact the National Kidney Foundation

Toll-free helpline: 855.NKF.CARES or email: nkfcares@kidney.org

*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.



Last Reviewed: 04/21/2022
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