Top 10 Asian Kidney Friendly Vegetables


Top 10 Asian Kidney Friendly Vegetables

We all know that a balanced diet should include vegetables, but things can get a little complicated when it comes to living with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). With so much “eat this, not that” messaging out in the world, it’s hard not to take it all personally. Cooking with Asian kidney friendly vegetables and incorporating them into your regular diet doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful! 

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What are Asian Kidney Friendly Vegetables?

While there is no one best vegetable for kidney disease, we can nail it down to a few characteristics for most people with CKD to look for. The top nutrients that I like to keep an eye on as a renal dietitian are protein, potassium, sodium and phosphorus content. 

If you are newly diagnosed with CKD, these are likely nutrients you’ve never had to give much thought. Vegetables aren’t typically viewed as a protein source, and potassium and phosphorus rarely make the cut on a nutrition label in packaged foods. 

Although close moderating of these nutrients typically doesn’t occur until stage 4, it’s always helpful to be aware of what you are consuming. It’s important to understand that nutrient needs are individualized and you should only limit nutrients under guidance of your healthcare provider. 

How To Reduce Potassium In Half

Although not everyone with CKD needs to reduce their potassium (again, only limit nutrients under guidance), there are easy preparation methods to lower potassium content when cooking.

Cooking high potassium vegetables in water-based methods like steaming or boiling has proven to be some of the most effective methods in reducing potassium content. Pressure cooking and microwaving have also shown to be effective. 

Research has shown that double-boiling potatoes, a naturally high potassium vegetable, can reduce the potassium content by up to 50 percent. Be sure that your potatoes are peeled when boiling!

This method has been proven successful in other vegetables as well, including cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy), tubers and root vegetables (carrots, turnips, potatoes), and leafy greens. 

Top 10 Asian Kidney Friendly Vegetables

1. Bok Choy 青江菜

Bok choy and baby bok choy are considered part of the cruciferous vegetable family, same as broccoli and cauliflower! 

How to use it: Steam, saute, or roast and simply serve with coconut aminos*, or your other favorite low sodium seasoning/sauce, add to stir fry or soup

Nutrition specs: Per 100g serving (raw), approximately a little over 1 cup chopped bok choy


2. Bamboo Shoots 竹筍

Bamboo shoots are the edible portion of bamboo, harvested when the bamboo plant is young. They have a mild taste and crunchy texture that holds up during cooking. 

How to use it: Boil and add to salad, add to stir fry or use in curry.

Nutrition specs: Per 100g serving (canned, drained), about 3/4 cup sliced


3. Bean Sprouts 豆芽

Bean sprouts have a mild, nutty flavor with a light and crispy texture that makes it a delight when eaten fresh. However, it is advised that those with compromised immune systems fully cook sprouts before consumption to ensure there are no harmful bacteria. 

How to use it: Add to salads, wraps, sandwiches, stir fry, soups, or enjoy it pickled with rice.

Nutrition Specs: Per 100g serving (Mung Bean, raw), approximately ½ cup


4. Bitter Melon 苦瓜

True to its name, this member of the gourd family is truly bitter! From the outside, it looks like a swollen & bumpy cucumber. Cut in half and remove seeds before cooking. Bitter melon has been heavily researched for its ability to help lower blood sugar!

How to use it: Stuff with meat/vegetable mixture of choice and bake, add to stir fry or curry

Nutrition Specs: Per 100g serving (cooked), approximately 1 cup chopped


5. Chinese Eggplants 茄子

This longer, skinnier variety of eggplant has a delicate, thin skin and smaller seeds when compared to other types. It is often deemed as less bitter and overall more enjoyable than the popular globe variety most often found in the US. 

How to use it: Simply saute with garlic and sesame oil*, add to stir fry, or steam and pair with your favorite low sodium sauce/seasoning

Nutrition Specs: Per 100g serving (raw), approximately 1 ¼ cup chopped


6. Gailan (Chinese Broccoli) 芥蓝

This broccoli variety is a quick-cooking, nutritious vegetable that makes a great addition to many entrees and also as a tasty side dish. While it can be enjoyed raw or cooked, cooking this kidney friendly vegetable helps to reduce its potassium content by just over 10mg. 

How to use it: Sauté or steam and pair with 1/2 tablespoon of soy paste* and some spicy chili crisp* for a simple side dish, pair this with any entree

Nutrition Specs: Per 100g serving, approximately 1 cup chopped, raw


Per 100g serving, approximately ½ cup chopped, cooked


7. Gobo (Burdock Root) 牛蒡根

Most commonly used in Japanese cuisine, this root vegetable is popular in braised dishes and ramen. It has a mild, earthy flavor similar to lotus root. 

How to use it: Add to ramen and other soups/stews, braise with carrots, use as an ingredient in kimbap, or marinate in vinegar

Nutrition Specs: Per 100g serving (raw), approximately ½ root stem


8. Lettuce Stem 菜心

Also known as celtuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, and Chinese lettuce, people grow this lettuce to enjoy the stem rather than the leaves. It can be enjoyed raw or cooked, but you will want to peel the thick skin off first to reveal the bright green/white innards. The texture is similar to celery.

How to use it: Shave or julienne into salads, add to stir fry

Nutrition Specs: Per 100g serving (raw), approximately 1 cup chopped


9. Lotus Root 蓮藕

Lotus root has a mild, sweet taste and is served cooked. It is most commonly used in Southern and East Asian cooking but is popular in Japan as well. 

How to use it: Add to stir fry, make homemade tea, thinly slice and bake into chips

Nutrition Specs: Per 100g serving (cooked, without salt), approximately 1 cup chopped


10. Leek 韭蔥

Leeks are in the same family as onions, garlic, and chives. They are typically used in the same way an onion would be and provides a mild onion taste that is slightly sweet. 

How to use it: Grill for a simple side dish, add to soup base, add to stir fry, substitute in scallion pancakes, or make leek pancakes.

Nutrition Specs: Per 100g serving (raw), approximately 1 whole leek or 1 cup chopped



In conclusion, there are many Asian kidney friendly vegetables to choose from that can be included in your daily diet. It’s important to communicate with your healthcare provider on what nutrients you need to be limiting, if any at all. 

Want more? Part two of Asian kidney friendly vegetables is coming soon!


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