Can You Eat Sweet Potatoes on a Renal Diet?

A small pile of sweet potatoes.
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A renal diet is typically prescribed for those suffering from chronic kidney disease or undergoing dialysis. Your doctor may also prescribe a short-term renal diet if you have kidney stones. Your specific guidelines may vary according to the severity of your disease and are likely to change over time. Always follow your doctor's restrictions, which may vary from those detailed here. Check with your doctor before adding any new food, such as sweet potatoes.

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Potassium is essential to good health, helping to regulate the heartbeat, but potassium levels are controlled by the kidneys. If you have kidney disease, you may be at risk for retaining too much potassium, placing yourself at increased risk for an irregular heartbeat or even a heart attack. Therefore, most renal diets include specific guidelines for potassium intake. Sweet potatoes are high in potassium. Depending on your personal potassium restriction, however, you may be able to consume them in moderation.


Leaching Sweet Potatoes

Although it is impossible to entirely remove the potassium from a sweet potato, leaching can lower the potassium level. According to the National Kidney Foundation, sweet potatoes should be leached in warm water. Slice the sweet potato into thin pieces and rinse under warm running water. Place in a warm water bath at a ratio of ten parts water to one part sweet potatoes. Soak for at least two hours. Rinse again in warm water and cook at a ratio of five parts water to one part sweet potatoes. Ask your doctor how much leached potato is safe for you to consume.


Canned Sweet Potatoes

Canned sweet potatoes are naturally leached and may contain less potassium than fresh sweet potatoes. Read the label for details. However, canned vegetables are often high in sodium. As most renal diets are sodium-restricted, you may need to limit or avoid canned sweet potatoes altogether. If you use canned vegetables, drain the water thoroughly before serving. Avoid low-sodium canned vegetables, which may contain potassium-based salt substitutes.

Finding Balance

The key to successfully following any restricted diet is moderation. Completely avoid any food that your doctor feels is unsafe. Balance a wide variety of other foods to develop short-term and long-term meal plans that suit your taste while following your dietary restrictions. Consuming too much of any one food can be dangerous, but carefully managing your consumption allows you to eat things that you enjoy. Working with a dietitian can help you learn healthy meal planning and avoid the temptation to ignore your diet altogether.