Your kidneys need to stay strong and healthy so you can be too. Here is the #1 best food for your kidneys, says Dietitian.
Choosing healthy foods in your everyday diet can be a preventative measure in protecting healthy kidneys and it can also help you manage current symptoms of kidney disease. The kidneys work hard to remove waste and toxins from the body and keep the body’s fluids balanced (such as blood and electrolyte levels). This is exactly why taking good care of your kidneys’ well-being is essential for a long and healthy life.
“The kidneys are a complicated organ,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, an award-winning nutrition expert and bestselling author of Diabetes Create Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook. Because of that, there are various states of kidney damage and different types of kidney diseases that all “call for different medical nutrition therapy,” she says.
To better help you maintain healthy kidneys and potentially prevent any further kidney decline, you can try incorporating whole foods and eating less processed meat. Specifically, studies have found that dark leafy greens that are high in minerals and antioxidants can give these powerhouse organs exactly what they need.
The leafy greens in your diet should help “maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals like sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium in your blood,” Amidor says because all of which are necessary to prolong kidney function over the span of your lifetime.
Arugula, for example, contains a healthy amount of multiple nutrients like magnesium, vitamin K, and calcium. But what sets this leafy green apart from others is that it’s low in phosphorus—a naturally occurring mineral in foods that can build up in the bloodstream if the kidneys don’t filter properly. A large body of research has found that a frequent high intake of phosphorus may increase also one’s risk of long-term damage to the kidneys.
Arugula Nutrition Facts
Arugula provides beneficial nutrition but has few calories. It is a leafy green veggie with a spicy kick. Arugula leaves are high in nutrients, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium, all of which are key to helping the body’s organ systems function properly.
While arugula doesn’t look anything like broccoli, it is a cruciferous vegetable and offers many of the same health benefits as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Arugula is relatively inexpensive and easy to find pre-packaged in most grocery stores. It’s also easy to grow at home in a windowsill garden or outside.
One half-cup serving of arugula (10g) provides 2.5 calories, 0.3g of protein, 0.4g of carbohydrates, and 0.1g of fat. Arugula is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.
Vitamin C: 1.5mg
Vitamin K: 10.9mcg
Carbs: Arugula is very low in carbohydrates, offering less than 1 gram per serving. Unlike many of its cruciferous counterparts, arugula is rather low in fiber per serving. However, if you’re using it as a salad base, you will likely be consuming more than a 1/2 cup serving. A 2-cup serving of raw arugula would provide closer to 0.8 grams of fiber.
Fat: As a leafy, cruciferous vegetable, arugula is virtually fat-free.
Protein: Arugula is also very low in protein. If you’re using it as a salad base, you’ll likely want to include a protein source—this could be a meat product such as chicken or a legume like black beans.
Vitamins and Minerals: Micronutrients are where arugula really shines. It is high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, and magnesium. Two cups of raw arugula will provide 20% of the body’s daily vitamin A needs, 50% of vitamin K needs, and 8% each of vitamin C, folate, and calcium.
Calories: As a leafy green, arugula is very low in calories: about 5 per cup. It provides about the same amount of calories per cup as spinach and kale.
Another reason eating more arugula may be the first step in preventing kidney decline, is due to the fact that the dark green vegetable contains nitrates, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure. Consistent high blood pressure can put major stress on the kidneys and in turn, interfere with their ability to work properly, explains the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
For the most part, when it comes to generally healthy people, “no food is toxic to the kidneys, as the kidneys are built to filter out toxins,” Amidor explains. However, she says, it’s the “folks with certain types of kidney disease that need to watch certain foods,” since their kidneys have weakened capabilities.
Health Benefits of Arugula
Possibly Rich in Antioxidants
Arugula is known to be a great source of antioxidants and can greatly increase a person’s ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), a method for measuring possible antioxidant capacities. Antioxidants function to maintain a healthy balance of enzyme reactions within cells, while actively seeking out and destroying the disease-causing free radicals that can attack your system. This helps raise immunity levels in the body.
May Boost Bone Health
Arugula is rich in vitamin K, which is beneficial to bones. A 2003 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reinforces that vitamin K plays a critical role in promoting bone health and bone formation. It may increase in the intake of vitamin K can help to slow the gradual degradation of neural pathways owing to age.
Arugula’s combinative effects of low oxalate levels (allowing more minerals into the system) and the presence of so many minerals in the plant itself make it a strong support system for healthy bones. People with osteoporosis can see improvements, and arugula can be used as a preventative step as well, ensuring bone health and strength before age/activity-based effects of bone degeneration become serious.
May Help Improve Immune System
Arugula is possibly loaded with vitamins and minerals that in some way bolster the defenses of the body’s immune system. The body is stimulated to create white blood cells from the copper in these salad leaves, and the plant has several other ways to improve the strength of your immune system.
Vitamin C is one of the best defenses for your body to seek out dangerous, inflammatory free radicals and eliminate them from your body before they can cause real damage. This well-known vitamin is found in large quantities in arugula and helps maintain good health by giving an extra boost to your immune system.