It is important to choose healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices that promote kidney health, before and after you donate.

Diabetes and hypertension are the two main causes of kidney disease. You can prevent both if you keep a healthy weight, exercise often, and eat a diet low in salt and sugar.

A Healthy Kidney Diet

  • Eat a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables

  • Eat a diet low in salt

  • Exercise at least 150 minutes a week

  • Keep a healthy body weight

  • Avoid fad diets high in protein

Build a Healthy Plate

  • Choose high fiber foods. Fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains are high in fiber.

  • Include a lean protein. Low-fat meat, chicken, fish, low-fat cheeses, nuts, peanut butter, and eggs are good sources of protein.

  • Eat smaller portions of carbohydrates. Starches, fruit, milk, yogurt, and sweets can raise blood sugar and should be eaten in smaller portions.

Reduce Cholesterol and LDL

  • Reduce saturated and trans fats found in fatty beef, pork, poultry skin, butter, full-fat dairy, palm and coconut oils. These have cholesterol in them.

  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods help lower cholesterol.

  • Keep a healthy body weight and exercise often.

Reduce Triglyceride Levels

  • Keep a healthy body weight

  • Exercise at least 150 minutes a week

  • Avoid alcohol

  • Avoid added sugars and large portions of simple carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, cereal, crackers)

Increase HDL

  • Quit smoking

  • Exercise at least 150 minutes a week

  • Keep a healthy body weight

  • Eat foods rich in healthy fats (salmon, walnuts, avocado, olive oil, safflower oil, chia & flax seeds)


High cholesterol alone will not prevent you from donating a kidney. You still should treat it through diet, exercise and medicine as needed.
To avoid heart disease, make sure you keep normal lipid levels before and after you donate.

Who to Call

If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions, please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at

Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.

Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at:
(608) 287-2770.

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.