Healthy Filipino Food: Making Filipino Cuisine Kidney-Friendly and Heart-Healthy


Healthy Filipino Food: Making Filipino Cuisine Kidney-Friendly and Heart-Healthy

My name is Desiree Ann Hosena, an intern with Be Well Solutions Dietetic Internship Program. It has been a great privilege to be able to intern with Edith Yang, and I am very excited to take over the blog today!

My favorite memories from when I was young were coming home from a long day at school to smell my mother’s Filipino cooking. Dinner was always presented on a big table, and eating together was always the perfect opportunity to connect with my family and bond over the food. ..And somehow, having the leftovers the next day always tasted better. 

The aroma and all the incredible flavors of Filipino cuisine will always be a source of comfort. 

This post was written by Desiree Ann Hosena and reviewed by Edith Yang, RD, CSR, CLT, FAND. *This post may contain affiliate links which are marked with an asterisk. I may make a small commission if you make a purchase using the links. However, this does not affect you or increase the price in any way and it helps support this blog. Thank you! 

Are you craving Filipino food but concerned about it not fitting into your kidney-friendly eating program? Today, we are sharing a few tips and tricks to make popular Filipino dishes such as Chicken Adobo, Lumpia, and Pancit fit into your kidney-friendly eating plan.

Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo is a popular Filipino dish usually made with pork or chicken legs. The meat is usually marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and black pepper. Then, it is stewed in the mixture, creating a tender and flavorful dish. 

Chicken adobo with a side of rice and vegetables
  1. Use chicken breasts rather than thighs

Both chicken thighs and chicken breasts are incredible sources of lean protein. However, they differ in the number of calories, fat, and saturated fat.  Chicken breast provides about 140 calories, 3 grams of total fat, and just 1 gram of saturated fat. Chicken breast is low in fat and saturated fat, making it a heart and CKD-friendly option!

  1. Use low-sodium soy sauce 

Soy sauce, or toyo, is one of the main ingredients in not only traditional adobo recipes, but many Filipino dishes. Soy sauce, however, is notoriously known to be overloaded with sodium. Keep your Filipino dish CKD-friendly by creating your own “soy sauce.” You can find a healthy soy sauce substitute recipe here and here. If you are looking for a store substitute, Yamasa sells a reduced-sodium option which you can find on amazon here* . Pay close attention to the sodium content and serving sizes of many sauces on the market today.

An image of a nutrition label with the serving size and sodium content highlighted and a reminder to pay close attention to these.
It’s very easy to consume excess sodium and calories. If you need assistance, be sure to ask your Registered Dietitian for help.

3. Use seasonings

While reducing the sodium, you run into sacrificing the flavor. Keep the incredible flavors by adding your favorite seasonings to the dish. Common seasonings in many chicken adobo recipes include garlic powder, bay leaves, ground peppercorn, oregano, and onion powder.


Lumpia is a Filipino favorite, and it is a dish you can bring to any celebration– whether it is a birthday, baby shower, wedding, or simply having company over, the possibilities are truly endless! 

  1. Make it fresh! 

Lumpiang Shanghai is often fried in vegetable oils, which may add high levels of trans fats and excess calories into your diet.  Make it fresh by substituting the wrapper with lettuce. This would require no frying, it’ll save you time, and it is just as delicious! Be sure to get creative with the filling by adding your favorite choice of lean meat and crunchy vegetables. Traditional ingredients found in Lumpia include ground pork, minced onions, carrots, and a variety of seasonings. You can find a healthy recipe to try here!

Lumpiang Shanghai in a lettuce wrap instead of the normal fried wrapper
Photo from Kulinarya Cooking Club
  1. Healthy tip: Make your own dipping sauce.

Many sauces in the market will have added salt and sugar. Homemade sauces, on the other hand, won’t contain preservatives, sweeteners, and other strange ingredients! One can use stevia (as a substitute for sugar) for added sweetness. One can also use Mrs. Dash seasoning blends*, or Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning* to support a low-sodium diet. Create a dipping sauce that will maximize the flavors and juiciness of your dish. Check out our low sodium peanut sauce recipe.


Pancit is a traditional noodle dish that you may also find in many celebrations! It is usually served with meats (such as pork, chicken, or shrimp) and a variety of vegetables

  1. Ensure that all meats are fully cooked. 

With a dish that contains a variety of ingredients, it is important to ensure that all ingredients are fully cooked before serving.  CKD can lower your immune system’s ability to fight off infection– making the risk for foodborne illness quite high. Make sure to cook all meat, poultry, seafood, and egg dishes to a safe internal temperature.

  1. Choose low-sodium ingredients. 

Common ingredients found in Pancit are chicken broth and soy sauce. Make it a CKD-friendly dish by obtaining food items that say “reduced sodium” or “less sodium” on the label. Ideally, you should aim for food products with less than 300 mg per serving. A great option for reduced-sodium chicken broth is Kettle and Fire Low Sodium Chicken Broth* , which you can find at many grocery stores (i.e. Ralphs, Pavilions).

Filipino pancit (stir fry noodle) with cabbage, carrots, green beans, and pork.

Filipino food can be a part of a healthy kidney friendly diet. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your favorite cultural foods when maintaining your health. It’s all about balance, moderation, and sometimes making some simple swaps to make things a bit more fun!

At Healthy Mission Dietitian, we are on a mission to help you achieve your health goals while enjoying your favorite foods. If you need extra support, schedule an appointment with one of our dietitians!


Healthy soy sauce substitute recipe (whole30, Paleo). (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2022, from 

Home – dash. Dash. (2022, March 14). Retrieved June 1, 2022, from 

Klemm, C. S. (n.d.). Breasts vs thighs which is more nutritious. EatRight. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from 

Kulinarya Cooking Club – Lumpiang Hubad. Trissalicious. (2010, September 2). Retrieved June 1, 2022, from 

Less sodium soy sauce. Kikkoman Home Cooks. (2022, May 31). Retrieved June 1, 2022, from 

Lumpia Shanghai dipping sauce. (2022) Riverten Kitchen. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from 

Moncel, B. (2019). What to know about Filipino adobo. The Spruce Eats. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from 

Okonta, C. (2022). Food Safety and kidney disease: 4 things to remember. American Kidney Fund. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from 

Organic low sodium chicken broth. Swanson. (2020, October 23). Retrieved June 1, 2022, from 



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