Whole grains and CKD

One of the biggest questions I get as a renal dietitian is “should I be eating white or brown bread?”. I think this is a topic of confusion for many who are living with chronic kidney disease because whenever we read something online, the first thing we find is that you need to have white bread now that you have kidney disease. But asking the question is great, it shows that you are thinking about your overall health, and know that whole grains have the most nutrition. So, let’s dive deeper into whole grains and CKD.

What are whole grains?

Whole grains provide many nutritional benefits like fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, over refined grains (white bread or pasta) because the entire parts of the grain remain intact and are packed with nutrients. For example the bran, the edible outer layer, contains fiber and antioxidants, and the germ, the inner part, offers a variety of vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium, as well as potassium and phosphorus – which are still important in moderation with CKD. In refined grains, these nutritional benefits are lost. 

Can I include whole grains with CKD?

Whole grains may contain higher amounts of potassium and phosphorous per serving compared to refined grains. This can be a concern when we have CKD, so individualized needs should be taken into consideration. But phosphorous in plant-based foods is not absorbed completely. You can check out my blog on phosphorus and CKD here

But, most whole grains contain less than 200 mg of both potassium and phosphorous per ½ cup serving and therefore can be included in moderation. 

For example:

  • Barley 77 mg potassium, 44 mg phosphorus, 2 g fibre
  • Bulgur 65 mg potassium, 38 mg phosphorus, 3 g fibre
  • Brown rice (long grain) 44 mg potassium, 85 mg phosphorus, 2 g fibre
  • Millet 57 mg potassium, 92 mg phosphorus, 3 g fibre
  • Oatmeal 102 mg potassium, 122 mg phosphorus, 5 g fibre
  • Wild rice 88 mg potassium, 71 mg phosphorus 2 g fibre
  • Whole grain bread

Plus, with whole grains you get the added benefit of fibre. For many with CKD, constipation can be a big issue so this is helpful. Fibre also helps to manage blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar. 

Do you want to include whole grains again?

If you’re looking to feel empowered and supported with your nutrition needs, or looking to learn how to incorporate your favourite foods while preserving your kidney function, working with a dietitian can help you.

Want to work together? Connect with Emily here.

Want to learn more about Emily? Learn more here.

Published by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN

Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in renal nutrition helping those with chronic kidney disease. Emily holds a Master's degree in Foods and Nutrition and is a co-chair of the Southern Ontario Canadian Association of Nephrology Dietitians.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: