Eating seafood high in omega-3s helps protect against kidney disease
02/28/2023 // Zoey Sky // Views

Not sure what to make for lunch? Try featuring seafood in your main dish.

According to new research conducted by an international team of scientists, eating seafood and oily fish full of omega-3 fatty acids may help lower the risk of developing kidney disease.

While plant-based foods also contain omega-3s, consuming seafood regularly was also found to help slow down declines in kidney function.

Details of the study were published in The BMJ.

Chronic kidney disease and omega-3s

According to data, at least 700 million people worldwide have chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition that increased the risk of kidney failure and death.

The results of animal studies have linked omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) to maintaining kidney function. However, the data from human studies remain unclear.

Unlike animals, whose diets are strictly monitored, human diets differ from person to person. Additionally, there may be some human error when it comes to over- or underestimating how much of one food someone eats.

But despite limited human evidence, current nutritional guidelines recommend the consumption of a healthy amount of seafood and fatty fish.

To learn more about the link between human health, seafood consumption and omega-3s, the study authors reviewed 19 studies from 12 countries that measured n-3 PUFA biomarkers in adults and their risk of CKD.

The biomarkers included:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)
  • Alpha linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Brighteon.TV

EPA, DHA and DPA come from seafood but ALA is found in plants like leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds. (Related: Curcumin found to slow chronic kidney disease progression.)

Seafood consumption linked to lower kidney disease risk

The researchers assessed the risk of chronic kidney disease by estimating the glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), which shows how well the kidneys eliminate waste and excess fluid from the blood. A normal eGFR is 90 to 120 ml/min/1.73 m2.

Upon examining data from 19 studies, the researchers discovered that 4,944 volunteers (19 percent) developed chronic kidney disease during an 11-year observation period.

After excluding other factors like age, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, smoking and other health conditions, the findings revealed that seafood helped reduce the risk of kidney disease by at least eight percent.

On the other hand, omega-3s in plant-based foods were not linked to a lower risk of chronic kidney disease.

According to the scientists, the study results are only observational and they can't directly link omega-3s in seafood to better kidney health. They added that there may be other factors connected to kidney disease that they did not consider.

"Although our findings do not prove a causal relation between seafood n-3 PUFAs and CKD risk, they are supportive and consistent with current clinical guidelines that recommend adequate intake of seafood as part of healthy dietary patterns, especially when seafood replaces the intake of less healthy foods," concluded the study authors in a media release.

The researchers said confirming the benefits seafood offers in preventing chronic kidney disease will require more randomized clinical trials.

Tips for a kidney-friendly eating plan

If you already have kidney disease, you need to watch what you eat and drink because your kidneys cannot remove waste products as they normally should.

A kidney-friendly eating plan can help you stay healthier and slow down damage to your kidneys. These tips are for people who have Stages 1 to 4 of chronic kidney disease and are not on dialysis.

Different people will have different nutrition needs. If you are not sure where to start, consult a dietitian to create a kidney-friendly eating plan that suits your dietary needs.

A kidney-friendly eating plan can help protect your kidneys from more damage. This diet will also include foods that are easy on your kidneys and limit other foods and beverages so certain minerals in those foods, like potassium, don't build up to high levels in your body.

Your kidney-friendly eating plan may change over time, but it will always give you the right amount of these three essential nutrients:

  • Protein gives you energy. It helps your body to grow, build muscles, heal and stay healthy.
  • Fat is another nutrient that gives you energy. The human body needs fat to carry out various bodily functions, such as using vitamins from your food and keeping your body at the right temperature.
  • Carbohydrates (carbs) are your body's main energy source. Your body can more easily convert carbs into energy compared to protein and fat.

Make sure you get the right amount and the right types of protein

Not getting enough protein can result in weak skin, hair and nails.

On the other hand, consuming too much protein can make your kidneys work harder, which can cause more damage. This happens because when the body uses protein, it produces waste products that your kidneys have to filter.

To ensure your overall health, you may need to adjust how much protein you eat.

The amount of protein you need depends on your activity level, body size and health. Check with your doctor or dietitian to see if you need to limit protein or change the type of protein you eat.

Choose the right types of fat

Fat gives you energy and helps you utilize some of the vitamins you get from your food. Fat from food is also essential for your well-being.

However, too much fat can cause weight gain and heart disease. Limit fat in your meal plan and choose healthier fats like olive oil when cooking.

Choose whole grain carbohydrates

Eating too many carbs may also cause weight gain.

When you have kidney disease, it's better to eat whole grains and healthy carbs like fruits and vegetables. Unhealthy carbs include hard candies, honey, sugar, soda and other sugary beverages.

Eat the right amount of calories

Your body needs calories for energy. Calories come from the carbs, fat and protein in the foods you eat.

How many calories you need depends on your age, size, gender and activity level. If you need to lose weight, you may need to adjust how many calories you eat.

Some people will need to limit the calories they eat while others may need to have more calories.

Choose and prepare foods with less salt

Sodium (salt) is a mineral found in almost all foods and it has crucial roles in various bodily functions.

The amount of sodium found naturally in foods is enough to keep a healthy level in your body, but eating packaged foods and adding salt to your meals can lead to eating too much sodium.

Too much sodium can make you thirsty and make your body hold onto water, which then results in swelling and an increase in your blood pressure.

Too much sodium can cause more damage to your kidneys and make your heart work harder. If you have kidney disease, you may benefit from limiting your sodium intake.

Generally, you should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

You can limit sodium by avoiding salt and using more herbs and spices to season dishes while cooking. If possible, use fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.

If all you have is canned vegetables, drain and rinse them to remove extra salt. When eating out, ask your server to tell the chef not to add any salt to your meal.

Follow a balanced diet and eat seafood rich in nutrients like omega-3s to boost your kidney health.

Watch the video below to learn how to make marinated salmon with vegetables.

This video is from the Living The Life With Tracy channel on

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