Searching for the best bread for kidney disease? Whether made from wheat, maize, quinoa, lentils, or any other type of grain, bread is significant in many cultures across the globe. However, the question “Can I include bread in my kidney-friendly diet?” commonly pops into kidney patients’ heads. Also, what is the best bread for kidney disease? There are many types and brands of bread that can be included in the kidney-friendly diet. In this article, we will cover how to choose a kidney-friendly bread. We will also review our dietitians’ favorite bread choices for kidney patients.
Table of Contents
Bread is defined as a food, usually baked, and made from a flour or meal.
It is often moistened, kneaded and fermented.
Bread is usually made of a flour or meal, leavening agent, water and salt. From this basic list of ingredients, you can make a seemingly endless list of types of bread.
Other ingredients that may be added include fat sources like oil and butter, fruits and vegetables, sugar or other sweeteners, and spices and herbs.
Bread Nutrition Comparison
There are a ton of different types of bread from around the world.
Below are some different types of bread:
- White bread
- Wheat bread
- Whole grain bread
- Multigrain bread
- Rye bread
- Sourdough Bread
- Sprouted Grain Bread
- This type of bread is usually made by soaking a whole grain until it begins to sprout (hence sprouted grain).
- Soda Bread
- Milk Bread
- Flour tortilla
- Corn Tortilla
However, not all bread is created nutritionally equal.
Take a look at how well your favorite bread stacks up against other types.
All of the information below was gathered from the USDA nutrient database. If you are looking for a specific type of bread, use this database for reliable nutrition information.
|Type of Bread
(1 regular slice)
|Whole Grain White Bread
|Sprouted Grain Bread
|Flour Tortilla (45g)
Benefits of Bread for Kidney Disease
Despite recent trends that claim that bread is “bad,” bread can be beneficial to your kidney friendly diet.
Bread is a source of carbohydrates as well as other vitamins and minerals such as B-vitamins.
These nutrients are necessary for an adequate kidney-friendly diet.
Bread can provide flavor and a sense of satisfaction from your meals. This is often thanks to the fiber from whole grains in bread.
Bread can also help kidney patients add calories, iron, healthy fats and more nutrients.
What is the difference between whole grain and whole wheat bread?
Do they all mean the same thing? Is one better than the other?
It can be hard to understand the difference between these seemingly identical names for bread. However, there is a difference.
Whole grain and whole wheat bread both use all 3 parts of the grain.
This means that all of the nutrients are still in the bread.
However, whole grain means that another grain can be added, such as quinoa, rice or barley.
Whole wheat means that a product uses only wheat kernels.
They are both equally nutritious and can have a place in your kidney-friendly diet.
Multigrain, on the other hand, uses more than one type of grain. However, it does not have to use all parts of the grain (aka refined grains can be used).
Be sure to look for 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat on the food label to ensure that you are getting the maximum nutritional benefits from your bread.
You can do this by looking at the first ingredient listed. It should be either whole grain or whole wheat.
How to Choose the Best Bread for Kidney Disease
There are some types of bread that are better than others.
But determining the best bread for kidney disease may be easier than you thought.
To determine if a bread is kidney-friendly or not, turn the package over to the nutrition label and ingredients list.
Let’s dive into what to look for.
What about the phosphorus in whole grain bread?
First, let’s discuss whether or not kidney patients should include whole grain bread.
For a long time, kidney patients were told to avoid whole grain bread and whole grain products because of the phosphorus content.
However, whole grain bread contains organic phosphorus.
Organic phosphorus is the phosphorus that is found naturally in foods.
Additionally, our bodies don’t absorb it very well. Only about 30-70% of organic phosphorus is absorbed.
Furthermore, we absorb more phosphorus from animal sources than plant sources.
This means that whole grain bread can and should be a part of your kidney friendly diet.
Even with high phosphorus levels, removing whole grains will not be a high priority.
Unless you are making your bread from scratch, bread does run the risk of having additives in the ingredient list.
We went over the natural (or organic) phosphorus content of bread, but what about phosphorus additives?
Many breads that are on the market today do contain phosphorus additives.
Phosphorus is often added to bread products as a preservative.
We absorb nearly 100% of the phosphorus that is added to foods, also called inorganic phosphorus.
This is why many kidney patients are told to avoid or limit foods with phosphorus additives.
Check out our section of recommended breads below for brands that do not contain phosphorus additives.
Did you know that manufacturers can also add potassium to foods?
Some people with kidney disease need to follow a potassium restriction. Therefore, limiting potassium additives can be helpful.
Be on the lookout in the ingredients section for the bread for any potassium additives.
Bread, like most foods, will likely have a small amount of potassium. And even for kidney patients on a potassium restriction, whole grain breads with potassium can still be enjoyed.
This is because the fiber from the bread helps us with a healthy gut.
A healthy gut also supports potassium removal from the body.
You can learn about potassium and the kidney diet here.
Depending on the type of bread, it can be a great source of fiber.
Fiber can help with:
- better digestion
- bowel movement regularity
- blood sugar control
- heart health
- kidney health
An item is a good source of fiber if it has 3 or more grams of fiber per serving.
Whole grain and whole wheat breads tend to have more fiber.
This is because when white bread is made, the bran and the germ layers are removed from the grain kernel.
We are left with just the endosperm to make up the white bread.
The bran and germ that are removed during this process contain much of the fiber and other nutrients.
Bread can have added sugar.
Added sugar is any form of sugar that is added to a food during processing.
Limiting the amount of added sugar you take in can help manage blood sugars and take care of heart health which helps take care of your kidneys.
Be sure to check the nutrition facts label to see if your bread contains any added sugars.
Ideally, aim for 0 grams of added sugar in bread.
However, less than 5g of added sugar per serving or slice can also fit.
Who knew that bread was a significant source of sodium?
Bread is considered a very high “salty foods” to limit or avoid.
However, there are plenty of types of bread that have a kidney-friendly amount of sodium.
Look out for bread that has less than 140 milligrams of sodium per slice. This is considered low sodium.
Many breads have a sodium content as low as 85 milligrams per slice, or even lower.
Although bread is not typically thought of as a significant source of protein, certain types of bread can add up in protein.
Multigrain breads and sprouted grain breads are the highest in protein per slice, each with 5 grams.
Some kidney patients require a high protein diet, while some require a low protein diet.
For many people with kidney disease, it may be beneficial to limit the amount of protein consumed.
Be sure to talk with your dietitian about how much protein you need.
If you do need to follow a lower protein diet, there are some breads out there for you.
Wheat bread and rye bread both have 3 grams of protein per slice, making them a good option.
You can read more about protein and the kidney diet here.
Best Bread for Kidney Disease and Diabetes
Can people with diabetes and kidney disease still have bread? It may seem like the answer is a hard and fast no.
However, there are definitely types of bread that can fit into a renal diabetic diet.
First thing we want to look for is fiber.
Fiber can help keep blood sugars at a stable level and can keep us feeling fuller for longer.
Aim for a bread with 3 or more grams of fiber per slice.
Next, be sure to double check that there is no added sugar.
It may be harder to control blood sugar spikes when there is too much added sugar in a product.
Ezekiel brand breads can be a great option.
With a higher fiber content and no added sugars, this may be an option to discuss with your dietitian.
Best Brands of Bread for Kidney Disease
Check out our top brands of bread that we regularly recommend to our clients.
Best White Bread for Kidney Disease
White bread may not have much fiber, but sometimes there’s just no beating a good, classic white bread.
Sara Lee offers a white bread made with whole grains, so there is still fiber. And best of all, it has just 95 milligrams of sodium in two slices.
Rye Bread for Kidney Patients
Rye bread can often be a great bread option for kidney patients who need to avoid wheat.
Dimpflmeier Bakery offers a Light Rye Bread with only 110 milligrams of sodium per slice.
Whole Wheat and Whole Grain Breads
This is our most common category of breads for kidney patients that we recommend.
Here are several brands and breads to choose from:
Dave’s Killer Bread:
- 100% Whole Wheat
- 21 Whole Grains and Seeds Thin Sliced
- Good Seed Thin Sliced
- Powerseed Thin Sliced
- Sprouted Whole Grains Thin Sliced
Food for Life
Have you found another brand of kidney-friendly bread? Share it with us in the comments!
The truth about whether or not bread is healthy to eat for kidney patients (or anyone for that matter) is confusing.
Some websites say that bread is completely bad, while others say that kidney patients can only have white bread and not whole grain.
Then a different site may say the exact opposite.
In reality, it matters more about the type of bread, the way that it is processed and what is added (or not added) to it.
Breads that are low in sodium, phosphate additives and added sugars should be limited. However, breads high in fiber and other nutrients can be great additions to a kidney friendly diet.
Wheat bread, rye bread, even white breads can be good for kidney patients. So when it comes to adding bread to our renal diet, use these guidelines to choose the best bread that you enjoy.
Jen Hernandez is a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in renal nutrition. She has nearly a decade of experience with kidney disease patients in all stages - from stage 1 through kidney transplant. Jen writes on the blog of Plant-Powered Kidneys to help reach and teach more kidney patients about how they can enjoy more foods in a plant-based diet while protecting kidney health.