KEEP Healthy

Your Kidneys and Your Heart

Did you know that heart disease is a risk factor for kidney disease and that kidney disease is a risk factor for heart disease?

The heart and kidneys are very interconnected. While the heart constantly pumps blood throughout the body, the kidneys continuously filter this blood in order to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body. The filtration process of the kidneys is necessary to maintain a stable balance of body chemicals. The kidneys also produce hormones that affect the function of other organs. For example, hormones produced by the kidneys stimulate red blood cell production and promote bone health. Other hormones help to regulate blood pressure. Damaged kidneys may release too much of these hormones, which can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, congestive heart failure and stroke.

Since the heart and kidneys work together, it probably isn't a surprise that many of the risk factors for chronic kidney disease (CKD) are the same as the risk factors for heart disease. Having hypertension and/or diabetes are risk factors for both CKD and heart disease. Another risk factor for heart disease is having high cholesterol. Cholesterol is a lipid, which is a fat-like substance found in your blood. Your body makes some cholesterol but also gets it from eating meats and other animal food products. When there is too much cholesterol in your body, the cholesterol can clog blood vessels and make them narrower, making it harder for the heart to pump the blood throughout the body. It's important to make sure you get tested for these conditions and that you seek treatment for abnormal values by following up with a physician.

Tips to Reduce Fat and Cholesterol in Your Diet

  1. Choose lean meats, poultry and fish. The loin and round cuts of meat tend to be leaner than rib cuts and organ meats.
  2. Trim all visible fat from meat and remove skin from poultry.
  3. Steam, broil, roast or bake meat, poultry and fish. Place the food on a rack to allow the fat to drain away from the food. Do not fry foods.
  4. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables. Steam, boil, bake or microwave vegetables. Use nonstick pans or vegetable sprays for sautéing.
  5. Use herbs and spices to season foods instead of sauces, butter or margarine.
  6. Try wine, lemon juice, or flavored vinegar to give flavor with limited fat and calories.
  7. Use jelly, jam, honey or syrup instead of butter or margarine on toast, waffles, pancakes or muffins.
  8. Use fat free or reduced fat versions of high-fat foods. For example, use fat-free sour cream in place of regular sour cream or use 1% or skim milk in allowed amounts.
  9. Limit hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats. These can be found in some margarines, peanut butters, packaged baked goods and snacks, and fried foods. Try baked crackers instead of fried crackers. Order grilled or baked items when eating out.
  10. Use two grams of plant stanols or sterols per day. These are sold as specially formulated margarine-like spreads. Your dietitian can assist you with finding these products.
  11. Limit products made with coconut, palm kernel, palm oil, lard, shortening, bacon fat and cocoa butter.
  12. Use canola or olive oils instead of shortening, butter or other oils when cooking. These monounsaturated fats will not lower your HDL(good cholesterol) level.
  13. Try sherbet or ice milk instead of ice cream.
  14. Read food labels on the foods you buy. Do not be misled by foods that are cholesterol free but contain large amounts of saturated fat. Your body will turn these saturated fats into cholesterol.

For more information about cholesterol, CKD, and heart disease please click here:

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