Is Tilapia Good for Renal Diet? Kidney-Friendly Fish

Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022
Is Tilapia Good for Renal Diet
Although tilapia is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it should be limited or avoided in a renal diet because it is high in phosphorus and potassium

Although tilapia is a highly nutritious fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it should be limited or avoided in a renal diet because it is high in phosphorus and potassium. 

One fillet (116 grams) of tilapia contains the following:

  • Protein: 23 grams
  • Vitamin D: 3.60 mg
  • Potassium: 350 mg
  • Vitamin B12: 1.83 mg
  • Calcium: 11.60 mg
  • Phosphorous: 197.20 mg
  • Selenium: 48.5 mg

People with kidney disease should limit the consumption of foods high in potassium and phosphorus, as eating too much can cause a buildup of these minerals in the blood and lead to following:

  • Serious heart problems
  • Thinning and weakening of bones
  • Bone pain
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Skin ulcers
  • Damage to the heart and other organs

Is fish recommended in a renal diet?

While protein is necessary to improve overall health, people on a renal diet should restrict protein to 0.55-0.60 g/kg body weight per day. High protein intake can worsen kidney damage in people with kidney disease.

Fish is high in protein and thus recommended in a renal diet. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglyceride levels in the blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. Omega-3 fatty acids also lower blood pressure in people with kidney disease.

Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids that should be included in a renal diet include:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Herring
  • Sardine
  • Mackerel

One study showed that consuming fish such as Florida pompano, red drum, spotted eagle ray, big-scale pomfret, Cortez flounder, largemouth bass, and Periche mojarra, is especially good for people with kidney disease.

However, avoid or limit seafood that is rich in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus:

  • Swordfish
  • Smoked or canned fish
  • Escolar

Recommended serving sizes of various seafood for people with kidney disease are as follows:

  • Fish: 1 ounce
  • Shellfish: 1 ounce
  • Canned tuna and salmon: 1 ounce or ½ cup


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What precautions should be followed by people with kidney disease?

In addition to avoiding or limiting certain foods, people with kidney disease should also follow these tips when it comes to preparing their meals:

  • Avoid adding salt to your food when cooking or eating.
  • Choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned varieties.
  • Avoid processed meats such as ham, bacon, sausage, and lunch meats.
  • Limit high-sodium condiments such as soy sauce, barbecue sauce, and ketchup.
  • Avoid pickled foods.
  • Check nutrition labels before purchasing foods.
  • Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat slowly and do not overeat.
  • Avoid distractions when eating.
  • Limit the amount of protein-rich foods such as:
    • Chicken
    • Fish
    • Meat
    • Egg
    • Dairy
    • Beans
    • Nuts
    • Grains
  • Opt for heart-healthy foods such as:
    • Lean meats
    • Poultry without skin
    • Fish
    • Beans
    • Vegetables
    • Fruits
    • Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Grill, broil, bake, roast, or stir-fry instead of deep frying.
  • Use nonstick cooking spray or olive oil instead of butter.
  • Cut fat from meat and remove skin from poultry before eating.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022
Image Source: iStock Images