Summary: Avocados are loved by many, but should be avoided or limited with kidney disease. If potassium levels are within a healthier range, a small serving of avocado can be had once to twice per week. A small serving being 1/5 to 1/6 of a small avocado.
When an avocado is mentioned, most people immediately think of guacamole dip; no doubt the dip tastes great but this fruit can be enjoyed as much more than a party dip; it is packed with many nutritional substances.
Avocado is a very popular food for those who are health conscious, but needs to be restricted with kidney disease. It is turning up in salads, smoothies, wraps, and even brownies and for good reason; when eaten regularly, this superfruit does wonders for the body.
There are several types of avocados available and they vary in color, size and shape. Some avocados are green and others are black. Further, the shape may also vary from pear-shaped to round. The weight of avocado also varies from 10 ounces to nearly 2.5 pounds. In North America the most popular variety of avocado is the ‘Hass’ avocado, sometimes called the alligator pear. This particular avocado is green and has a rough texture on the outside. However, the flesh inside is greenish-yellow, creamy, and tastes great.
What Makes The Avocado Special?
Avocado is a fruit that is widely consumed in Europe. In North America, traditionally it has been used as a dip and in salads, mainly in California. However, since its health benefits have been popularized, its consumption has increased all over the nation. The avocado is rich in many nutrients which include the following:
- Water-soluble Vitamins B and C
- High levels of fat-soluble vitamin E which helps prevent certain cancers
- High levels of vitamin K
- High levels of potassium. If you have kidney disease you must know your potassium levels before having avocados.
- Lutein which helps protect the eye against age-related macular degeneration
- Folate which is essential for red blood cell development and during pregnancy
- Soluble and insoluble fiber which is essential for gut bacteria and helps ease constipation. The fiber also increases satiety and hence the individual will feel full, and therefore be less likely to eat as frequently, which helps with weight loss. A small serving, if acceptable, in your kidney disease diet can provide much needed fiber.
- Unlike many other fruits, avocados are low in sugar and hence recommended for people who are trying to lose weight or prevent weight gain
- Avocados also contain trace amounts of copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and phosphorous
- Avocados are loaded with powerful antioxidants that can protect your eyes
- Avocados contain a protein called lutein which is a powerful antioxidant. This substance has been shown to delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration- an eye condition that causes blindness and has no cure. Lutein should be consumed regularly for its eye benefits.
- Because avocados contain a high level of insoluble fiber, this produces an early sensation of being full. Thus, one doesn’t develop hunger pangs even after eating a small amount of avocado, which prevents overeating. For people who want to lose weight, avocados are a great fruit because it provides nutrients, calories, and prevents hunger pangs. However, it is important not to eat too many avocados in one sitting as they also are rich in calories and can lead to weight gain. To get the maximum benefit from avocados, it is also important to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.
- Avocados do not contain any salt or cholesterol.
What About The Fat Content In Avocados?
Avocados are rich in fats but the good news is that this is monounsaturated fat or ‘good’ fat. Monounsaturated fats help lower the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body and reduce the risk of heart disease. However, it is important to eat avocados in moderation because they do have a small amount of saturated fat. With kidney disease you do not have to worry about the fat content with avocados.
How Many Calories Does An Avocado Have?
Avocados are packed with calories. A medium-sized avocado will contain anywhere from 350-550 calories. Hence, it is important to eat slices of avocado rather than a whole avocado every day. A thin slice of avocado will contain about 30-65 calories
What Is The Best Way To Ripen Fresh Avocado?
Avocados tend to ripen slowly at room temperature. To speed up the process, place an avocado in a paper bag with a banana. Check the skin color every day; when it is dark or purple, it is generally an indication that the fruit is ripe. At this stage, if you do not eat them, place them in a refrigerator.
Who Should Not Eat Avocados?
Individuals who have latex allergy should first speak to their healthcare provider before consuming avocado. The reason is that individuals with latex allergy can experience symptoms after eating an avocado. Read below about people with kidney disease.
What About The Potassium Content In Avocados And Kidney Disease?
Avocados contain a high concentration of potassium, even more than bananas. For healthy people, this extra potassium will simply be excreted in the urine. In addition, individuals who have early-stage kidney disease can consume avocados without worrying about potassium levels.
However, all individuals whose kidney disease is severe and have altered kidney function should first speak to their healthcare provider before eating avocados. When the kidneys are not functioning well, the high potassium can lead to serious heart problems. For those with borderline kidney problems who like to eat avocados, getting routine blood work every 3-4 weeks is recommended to ensure that the potassium levels in the blood are not rising.
How Can One Lower The Potassium In Avocados For Kidney Disease?
For individuals who like to eat avocados but are worried about the high potassium, one can demineralize the avocado first- this gets rid of the potassium, phosphorus as well as sodium. By demineralizing, the potassium is removed and individuals with kidney disease can safely eat the fruit.
- To demineralize the avocado, rinse it and then peel the skin.
- Remove the seed and cut the avocado in ¼ inch thick slices.
- Place the cut slices in a bowl filled with cold tap water, gently stirring them for 5-10 seconds. Then place the bowl in the fridge and let sit for 60 minutes.
- Once the time has elapsed, drain the water but be careful as the avocado slices will be very soft and soggy.
- Refill the bowl with cold water, stir for 5-10 seconds and place back in the refrigerator and allow it to stand for another hour.
- Once the time is up, drain the water and gently place the avocado slices on dry paper.
- With this process, you can lower the potassium in the avocado by about 40%.
- Do not demineralize for more than 2 hours otherwise the taste of the avocado may not be palatable.
- All demineralized foods should be refrigerated and eaten within 24 hours because they tend to spoil rapidly. You can also freeze any extra slices of avocado and use them on another day.
How To Make Delicious Avocado Dip?
- 4 ounces of Philadelphia cream cheese
- I lime/lemon
- I ripe avocado
- One teaspoon of sugar
- Ground pepper
- Allow the Philadelphia cream cheese to soften up at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
- Slice the avocado, remove the seed and scoop out the flesh of with a spoon and discard the skin
- Blend the avocado and the cream cheese until soft
- Add the lime or lemon juice
- Add sugar, pepper, and salt according to personal preferences
- Blend until the mixture is soft
This recipe will serve 4-6 people and can be consumed with a salad, corn chips, or tortillas.
Avocados are considered a super fruit because they contain many nutritive substances, but the fruit also tastes great. The avocado can be combined with many types of foods including shakes, dips, salads, and even smoothies. With kidney disease, however, always make sure you know your potassium levels before consuming avocados.
For more on avocados and whether or not you should be eating them if you’re dealing with chronic kidney disease, check out our latest video: https://youtu.be/_NRhJVOXtEg
And another article we did: These 2 Simple CKD Diet Exchanges Can Help Lower Your Potassium