Heart Healthy Fats For Kidney Disease


Heart Healthy Fats For Kidney Disease

February is National Heart Month! Let’s talk about all how to choose healthy fat for kidney and cardiovascular disease!

heart healthy fats for kidney disease

In the 1960s, the low-fat trend took the country by storm and was often promoted by physicians to patients with heart disease. So, why are we talking about eating fat for kidney disease?

I thought fat was bad. Why is a dietitian telling me to eat it?

Since the 60s, we have learned that all fat may not be the enemy after all. Research has shown that trans fat has the worst effect on heart health. It has been proven to decrease your “good” cholesterol levels while also increasing your “bad” cholesterol levels. 

Nutritional facts label on trans fat at zero grams

Trans fats have since been banned as an additive in foods, but the FDA still allows foods with less than 0.5g of trans fat to be labeled as 0g, so be aware of what foods still contain trace amounts and look for them on the ingredient list:  

  • Partially hydrogenated oils
  • Butterfat
  • Lard
  • Some fried foods

What kind of fat is best for kidney disease?

While there’s no single best healthy fat for kidney disease, there are definitely choices that are healthier than others. 

Ultimately, you want to lower your intake of saturated fats and increase your intake of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Studies have shown that consuming more polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats reduces one’s risk for coronary heart disease. 

Olive oil inside a glass bottle and a small bowl of green olives

Choices that are high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats are:

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Fats that are high in saturated fat are:

  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Lard
  • Shortening
  • Fully hydrogenated oils
  • Animal fat

Is coconut oil healthy for kidney disease?

Coconut oil may just be one of the most popular oils at the moment. A 2016 survey revealed that 72% of Americans viewed coconut oil as a healthy choice. However, if you’ve ever dealt with it you know that it is quite different from other oils. It is solid at room temperature and is boasted of its health benefits despite its high saturated fat content. So, is it a healthy fat for kidney disease or not?

It is a bit confusing, and a lot of research is still ongoing about what health benefits coconut oil may have for heart disease. The most recent research shows that coconut oil consumption significantly increases both your “good” and “bad” cholesterol levels, yet has no effect on triglyceride levels. 

Ultimately, limiting your intake of coconut oil just like any other saturated fat is a good idea. While raising good cholesterol levels may sound like a benefit, it’s hard to outweigh the fact that it also raises bad cholesterol levels, which is more detrimental to your health. 

two coconut cracked open with coconut oil inside one of the shells and a small bottle of coconut oil

I don’t have heart problems, only kidney disease. Why does it matter?

Even if you are in great cardiovascular health, by having kidney disease you are at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and dyslipidemia. 

GFR has been shown to be a strong and independent factor in predicting cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The risk of those with CKD with a GFR between 45-59, otherwise known as stage 3a, was 43% higher than those with a normal GFR. 

avocado, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, and two salmon fillets

Paying attention to heart health and preventing CVD is very important when you have chronic kidney disease. If you’re not sure what your health goals should be at your stage of CKD, you can read more here

Choosing healthy fats and limiting sodium to < 2300mg per day is a great place to start with getting your heart health on the right track. Add in some daily movement and you have the perfect formula!

I’m still learning how to eat healthier. How can I use more healthy oils in my diet?

There are lots of ways to incorporate healthy oils into your diet! See below for some ideas on how to eat healthy fat for kidney disease. 

  • Use butter-flavored olive oil for recipes that call for butter
    Yes- it’s a thing and it’s amazing! Use it to drizzle on top of plain air-popped popcorn, on pancakes, or on toast!
  • Make your own salad dressings with olive or avocado oil
    Most store-bought salad dressings are made with a mixture of vegetable oils that don’t offer as many benefits. You can whip up your own dressing in a matter of minutes with your choice of oil, vinegar, or lemon juice, and salt-free seasonings like garlic, onion, and fresh herbs. Olive and avocado oil work best since they have a neutral taste.
  • Toss your pasta in olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs
    Instead of marinara, try having your next pasta dish with olive oil, roasted garlic, and fresh herbs like parsley and basil. 
  • Add in a small amount to smoothies
    Fat is incredibly satiating, keeping us full for hours! By adding in a teaspoon or two of your favorite oil (flaxseed works great in smoothies) you are doing wonders for both your heart health and your hunger.
  • Make your own meat marinade
    Just like with salad dressing, pre-made marinades are made with various vegetable oils. Most marinade recipes use pantry-friendly ingredients, so once you stock up once, you will have enough to make multiple batches again without having to go to the store!

What’s your favorite way to use heart-healthy oils?

There are so many ways to add healthy fat for kidney disease to your diet. Let me know in the comments how you like to incorporate healthy oils into your diet or if you are going to try one of the tips above. 


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18296750/#:~:text=By%20the%201960s%2C%20the%20low,and%20the%20popular%20health%20media. 60s low-fat trend
  2. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/trans-fat  trans fats lowers HDL and raises LDL
  3. https://pubmed-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.webproxy2.ouhsc.edu/20338284/ trans fats on labels
  4. https://pubmed-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.webproxy2.ouhsc.edu/20351774/ to reduce sat fat
  5. https://www-ahajournals-org.webproxy2.ouhsc.edu/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.044687 coconut oil research

https://link-springer-com.webproxy2.ouhsc.edu/article/10.1007/s10741-014-9460-9 CVD CKD risk



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