Most natural foods provide nutritional benefits, but some are considered superfoods. While there is no scientific definition of the term “superfood,” most consider it to be a food that has an unusually high amount of antioxidants, vitamins or other nutrients.
Here are 7 kidney-friendly* superfoods that pack a nutritional punch for overall health:
- Apples: Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that can lower cholesterol and glucose levels. And don’t forget the peel! It is a significant source of antioxidants, including one called quercetin, which is thought to protect brain cells. Fresh apples are also a good source of Vitamin C. For a tasty treat, sprinkle apples with cinnamon.
- Blueberries: Ranked #1 among fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables in antioxidant power, blueberries are a low-calorie source of fiber and Vitamin C. They are being studied for their potential to protect against cancer and heart disease and for possible brain health benefits. You can find fresh berries in season at farmers’ markets or your local supermarket. In the off-season, frozen berries are a good substitute. Eat them raw, mix them in a fruit smoothie or add them to cereal.
- Fish High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients our body cannot make, so we must get them through the foods we eat. They have many important functions in the body including controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease risk of abnormal heartbeats, decrease triglyceride levels and slightly lower blood pressure. They are being looked at for their potential benefits for conditions such as cancer, autoimmune diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases. Salmon is a favorite “go-to” source of omega–3 fatty acids, but you can also consider mackerel, albacore tuna, herring and sardines.
- Kale**: This glorious green is packed with Vitamins A and C, calcium and many other important minerals. Kale is also a serious source of carotenoids and flavonoids, which may translate to super eye health and anti-cancer benefits. Kale contains significant sources of Vitamin K. People taking blood thinners, such as warfarin, should speak to their health care provider before adding to their normal diet any foods high in Vitamin K. Its peak season is winter, which makes kale a great choice during a season with fewer fresh veggie choices. Replace those unhealthy potato chips in your pantry with baked unsalted kale chips. Simply slice, drizzle with olive oil and bake!
- Strawberries: Strawberries may be small in size, but they are big in benefits! This delicious red fruit is a powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. The fiber and nutrients in strawberries have been associated with heart protection, as well as anti-cancer and anti-inflammation properties. Toss them in a salad or even eat them plain for a healthy treat!
- Spinach***: This leafy green vegetable is high in vitamins A, C, K and folate. The beta-carotene found in spinach is important for boosting your immune system health and protecting your vision. It is also a good source of magnesium. Instead of lettuce in your salad, try spinach. You can also easily incorporate spinach into your diet by making a simple side dish of steamed spinach, spiced up with garlic and olive oil.
- Sweet Potatoes**: These super spuds are packed with beta-carotene and are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin B-6 and potassium. One medium (5-inch long) sweet potato contains 112 calories and nearly 4 grams of fiber, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. You can eat them mashed or even make your own oven-baked fries.
*This article is meant to offer general health information. Before you make changes to your daily diet, consult with your doctor, dietitian or other healthcare practitioner to ensure your diet meets your nutritional and overall needs.
**Kale is considered a medium potassium food choice and should be limited by people on dialysis and those with a dietary potassium restriction.
**Spinach and sweet potatoes are considered high potassium food choices and should be limited by people on dialysis and those with a dietary potassium restriction.