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Can CKD patients eat Chinese food?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition characterized by gradual loss of kidney function over time. As CKD progresses, it becomes necessary to follow a special diet to avoid consuming foods that may further tax the kidneys. For CKD patients interested in eating Chinese cuisine, the key is paying attention to ingredients and preparation methods. With some modifications, Chinese food can be made kidney-friendly.

Can CKD Patients Eat Chinese Food at All?

Yes, CKD patients can eat Chinese food with some precautions. The main dietary concerns for CKD patients are limiting sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and fluids. Many classic Chinese dishes can be prepared with these restrictions in mind.

Sodium is used heavily in Chinese cooking for flavoring with soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and salt. High-sodium ingredients can be reduced or substituted. Potassium is abundant in Chinese fruits and vegetables. Controlling portions and cooking methods can reduce potassium levels. Phosphorus additives are found in some meat and seafood dishes. Avoiding processing additives and choosing lower phosphorus substitutions can help. Finally, fluids need to be limited, so saucy dishes and soups should be consumed carefully.

Overall, CKD patients can still enjoy the flavors of Chinese cuisine with selective ingredient choices and cooking adaptations. Dishes can be tailored for a kidney diet while maintaining taste and nutrition.

Tips for Eating Chinese Food with CKD

Here are some tips for CKD patients to keep in mind when eating Chinese food:

Choose low-sodium soy sauce or avoid it altogether

Request reduced sodium or salt in your dishes. Ask for sauces and seasonings to be served on the side.

Opt for steamed, grilled, or blanched vegetables instead of stir-fried

Cooking methods like steaming, grilling, or blanching reduce potassium levels. Avoid oily sauces which may contain phosphorus additives.

Select white rice and white meat options

White rice and chicken breast contain less potassium and phosphorus than brown rice and red meats. Tofu is also a good low-phosphorus protein choice.

Portion out soups and sauced dishes

Liquids are limited on a renal diet, so enjoy smaller 4-6 oz portions of soups, sauces, and gravies.

Avoid processed meats and meat substitutes

Processed items like sausage, bacon, ham, and meat substitutes often contain extra sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Ask how dishes are prepared

Request food to be cooked simply without tenderizers, meat powders, oyster sauce, or other high-phosphorus ingredients.

Enquire about nutrition information

Large chain restaurants may provide nutrition facts online or at the restaurant. This helps identify sodium, potassium, and phosphorus counts.

Kidney-Friendly Chinese Food Options

Many classic Chinese dishes can be adapted to be kidney-diet approved. Here are some of the best Chinese food choices for CKD patients:

Vegetable Dishes

– Steamed or stir-fried bok choy, napa cabbage, broccoli, carrots, snow peas, green beans
– Sauteed spinach, mustard greens, choy sum
– Blanched water chestnuts, snow peas, baby corn

Protein Foods

– Steamed, grilled, or pan-fried chicken breast
– Shrimp, scallops, crab
– Tofu
– Egg foo young with white eggs


– Steamed white rice
– Rice noodles, cellophane noodles
– Congee or jook (rice porridge)


– Low-sodium soy sauce
– Vinegar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil
– Hoisin sauce (in moderation)
– Chili oil, chili paste


– Green, oolong, or herbal tea
– Sugar cane juice
– Coffee (limit caffeine)

Kidney-Friendly Chinese Menu Options

When dining at a Chinese restaurant, these menu items are usually low in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and fluids:

Menu Category Kidney-Friendly Options
Appetizers Steamed dumplings, spring rolls, egg rolls
Soups Egg drop soup, wonton soup, vegetable soup
Entrees Steamed fish, chicken chop suey, shrimp & broccoli
Sides White rice, sauteed greens, blanched vegetables
Desserts Fresh fruit, fruit sorbet, egg custard

Modifying a Chinese Restaurant Menu for CKD Diets

Use the following tips when ordering off a Chinese menu to make it kidney-diet friendly:

  • Request steamed rice instead of fried or sauced rice
  • Choose clear soups like egg drop or hot & sour soup in small portions
  • Order white meat chicken, shrimp, or tofu entrees
  • Substitute black bean, oyster, or hoisin sauce with low-sodium soy sauce
  • Ask for stir-fried items to be made with less oil and salt
  • Avoid fried appetizers like egg rolls, crab rangoons, fried wontons
  • Order sauteed or blanched veggies instead of stir-fried
  • Skip canned fruits with heavy syrups and processed desserts

The key is limiting sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and fluids by making the right substitutions and cooking adaptations. With some modifications, classic Chinese dishes can comply with kidney diet parameters.

Sample Low-Sodium Chinese Meal for CKD Patients

Here is a sample low-sodium Chinese meal suitable for someone following a CKD diet:


Steamed Vegetable Dumplings


Hot and Sour Soup (4 oz)


Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry made with:
– Chicken breast strips
– Broccoli, carrots, snow peas
– Low-sodium soy sauce
– Garlic, ginger
– Served over steamed white rice


Jasmine Green Tea

This meal avoids high-sodium sauces and limits potassium from the vegetable and rice portions. With modifications like these, CKD patients can still enjoy delicious Chinese cuisine.


Chinese food can be part of an eating plan for someone with chronic kidney disease. While classic Chinese dishes are high in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, ingredients and preparation methods can be altered to suit a renal diet. Focusing on fresh vegetables, white meat and seafood, steamed white rice, and low-sodium sauces allows CKD patients to still enjoy the wonderful flavors of Chinese cuisine. With some thoughtful menu selections and modifications, Chinese restaurants can offer kidney-friendly meals.