Living Well Los Alamos: Kidney Health

Los Alamos

In addition to removing waste products from the body our kidneys play an important role in other processes including regulating salt, potassium and blood pressure, producing a form of Vitamin D to keep bones strong, and controlling red blood cell production.

Diabetes and high blood pressure are responsible for up to two-thirds of cases of chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease affects up to 26 million adults in the US and many more are at risk. Two simple tests – heart and urine, are available to determine if you have kidney disease.

Many kidney diseases can be successfully treated. Diet and nutrition can play an important role in managing kidney health. Many people with kidney diseases have success following the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Always check with your physician or dietician before beginning a new diet plan. This diet is NOT recommended for people on dialysis.

A person requiring 2000 calories a day would aim for the following:

Food Group

Daily Servings

Serving Size

Grains (whole grains when possible)


1 Slice bread
1 oz dry cereal
½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal



1 cup raw leafy vegetable
½ cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetable
½ cup vegetable juice



1 medium fruit
¼ cup dried fruit
½ cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit
½ cup fruit juice

Fat–free or low–fat milk and milk products


1 oz milk or yogurt
1 ½ oz cheese

Lean meats, poultry, and fish

6 or less

1 oz cooked meats, poultry, or fish
1 egg

Nuts, seeds, and legumes

4–5 per week

1/3 cup or 1 ½ oz nuts
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp or ½ oz seeds
½ cup cooked legumes (dry beans and peas)

Fats and oils


1 tsp soft margarine
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp salad dressing

Sweets and added sugars

5 or less per week

1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp jelly or jam
½ cup sorbet, gelatin
1 cup lemonade


This month is National Kidney Month. During March, if you are at risk for kidney diseases, visit a health professional to have your kidney health tested or visit to learn about events focused on kidney health. If you are someone with a loved one who suffers from kidney disease, consider learning to make a DASH recipe such as the following.

DASH Recipe

Spicy Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Serves 5


  • 2 chicken breasts, bone and skin removed 
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoon mayonnaise


  • Boil chicken, cool and cube.
  • Combine jalapeno pepper, black pepper, onion, cilantro and lime juice.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • Add cooled, cubed chicken.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Serve ¼ cup of chicken salad rolled inside a large lettuce leaf.

Recipe courtesy of the National Kidney Foundation.

Helen Idzorek is the Extension Home Economist and 4-H Agent for NMSU Cooperative Extension Service. She can be reached via email at or at 505-662-2656. The Los Alamos County Cooperative Extension Service is located in the Community Building at 475 20th St, Suite A, Los Alamos, NM 87544. Find them on Facebook or visit their website at New Mexico State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

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