Lentils and other legumes are often warned against by those who are following a kidney disease diet. This is because they can be high in potassium and even phosphorus. For the majority of people looking for healthy options in their diet’s lentils are a superhero because of their excellent source of high protein, high fiber, many beneficial nutrients, and their association with lowering cholesterol and risk of heart disease. However, while these are a great healthy choice for a nutritious food within a healthy diet for most, those with chronic kidney disease should be mindful of the amount of potassium, as just one-half serving can contain as much as 365 milligrams.
Can I Eat Lentils on a Renal Diet?
Lentils can be eaten on a renal diet but the amount of potassium, protein, and phosphorus should be accounted for according to your dietary restrictions. Those on renal diets usually avoid legumes, beans, and other options similar to lentils, but if you enjoy these in moderation, then you should have no worries and can even get a healthy dose of fiber from these tiny seeds.
Are Lentils Good For You If You Have Kidney Disease?
As we talked about above, lentils have many beneficial effects, such as a good source of protein and fiber content. Though, they are not the ideal choice for those with kidney disease because they have high phosphorus and excess potassium contents, which can build up in your build and not be filtered out due to the kidney disease. This could cause problems for your health over time if you consume too much of these nutrients. Lentils are good in small quantities, but you should search for those with the lowest sodium, phosphorus, and source of potassium.
How Much Potassium Content Is In Cooked Lentils?
Much like beans and other legumes, there is a lot of potassium-packed into these small lentils. The average potassium content in a half-cup can vary between 250 to 365 milligrams depending on the color and the style of cooking used to prepare the lentils. Leaching is a process through which you soak the lentils before cooking them to get as much potassium out beforehand as possible.
This is especially helpful to those with kidney disease because it can help you eat foods that are usually deemed off-limits by reducing levels of potassium per cup. Leaching starts by placing the number of lentils to be cooked in a large pot of warm water. The larger the pot, the more dispersed the potassium will be once it leaves the lentils, which will maximize the amount leached out. Warm water is also essential because it helps facilitate the movement of potassium out as well. Leave them soaked for up to two hours, and then cook by whichever method you prefer. This will decrease the amounts of potassium intake, but still, be mindful of eating these in moderation.
Potassium Content By Lentil Color
The average potassium content in a single cup of red lentils is about 780 milligrams. The sodium is 480 milligrams, and the protein is 6 grams. This is on the slightly higher end of the spectrum for sources of potassium content in lentils, but depending on how they are cooked, red lentils could still be a good option in small quantities for a renal diet.
Yellow lentils have an average of 731 milligrams of potassium per one single cup. This is better than the red lentils and is the average of lentils potassium levels discussed for those on kidney friendly diets. Sodium is 471 milligrams, and protein is 18 grams in this type of lentil, so it is important to note if you are on a specific protein diet to count this in as it has higher amounts of proteins.
Green lentils are by far the most potassium-rich lentils coming in at around 900 milligrams for just half a cup. This is twice the levels present in our other two lentil options, so while the green lentils may contain other healthy aspects like 31 grams of dietary fiber, they are just not a good choice for those with kidney disease due to the high dietary potassium.
Which Lentils Are Healthiest For the Kidneys?
The lentils that are the healthiest choice for those with kidney disease would be the yellow lentils. They have the lowest amount of potassium while still retaining their fiber and protein content. So, while they should not become a staple in your meals, the yellow lentils are the best renal-friendly option for healthy kidneys and kidney function with diet rich minerals out of these legumes.
Renal-Friendly Lentil Recipe
While lentils should not be a constant part of your diet, a healthy way to cook them is with this lentil stuffed pepper recipe. Made from a combination of lentils, onions, squash, feta cheese, rice, and more spices, this is a flavorful dish full of healthy options. An easy and fun dish, these stuffed peppers have flavors of basil, garlic, and sweet onion mixed with much more for you to enjoy.
Being aware of the potassium content in lentils, as well as which lentils are best for a renal diet, will make sure you are still able to eat lentils when you have kidney disease.
If you love legumes and want to try having a healthy option that provide health benefits like lentils in your diet, it is best to stick to yellow lentil food sources in moderation and soak them before cooking to remove as much potassium as you can. Then you can enjoy your lentils without worrying about your health.