What to Know About Oatmeal and Kidney Disease

Medically Reviewed By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

The link between oatmeal and kidney disease depends on your condition. Generally, oatmeal can be safe and nutritious for people with kidney conditions. However, doctors may recommend limiting oatmeal for people with severe kidney disease. Oatmeal can have benefits for people both with and without kidney disease. However, everyone responds uniquely to certain foods.

If you have a severe kidney condition or chronic kidney disease (CKD), your doctor may recommend reducing certain nutrients in your diet. These include:

  • protein
  • phosphorous
  • potassium
  • sodium

When the kidneys are not working optimally, they may have difficulty filtering excess minerals and waste products from the body. However, this can depend on the stage and severity of kidney disease.

This article discusses the benefits and risks of oatmeal and kidney disease, and how to eat oatmeal safely. This article also answers some frequently asked questions.

Is oatmeal good for kidney disease? 

A close-up of a bowl of oatmeal topped with blueberries.
Clique Images/Stocksy United/Stocksy United

Oatmeal can be safe or even beneficial for people with kidney disease. Generally, you may not need to avoid oatmeal unless your doctor has recommended it.

However, whether oats are good for kidney disease can vary per person.

Possible risks

Oats can be Trusted Source FoodData Central Highly respected food and nutrition database from the United States Department of Agriculture, Go to source a high source of phosphorous and a moderate source of potassium. Additionally, some oatmeal products may have additives or be fortified with minerals during processing.

As a result, if you have more advanced or severe CKD, your doctor may recommend tracking and limiting your daily or weekly consumption of oats. You may not necessarily need to cut out oatmeal altogether.

Possible benefits

Oats can be beneficial for some people with kidney disease. Oats are:

  • low in protein
  • low in sodium
  • high in important nutrients, such as fiber and certain vitamins

In addition, oats contain Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source phytates, which may reduce how much phosphorous you absorb from oats. This may lower their impact on kidney conditions.

A 2016 study suggests that people with CKD who ate 50 grams (g) of oats daily may have experienced benefits. After 8 weeks, people who ate oats had lower levels of serum albumin and potassium in their blood. Serum albumin and potassium can be used to measure how well the kidneys are functioning. Lower levels may indicate improved kidney function if you have kidney disease.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) also recommends oatmeal as an option for some people with kidney conditions.

Whether oatmeal is safe can depend on you

Whether oatmeal is good for you and your kidney condition can depend on factors such as:

  • the stage of your kidney disease
  • your underlying health
  • individual differences

For example, someone with stage 2 kidney disease may not need to modify their diet or avoid oatmeal. By contrast, someone with a severe kidney condition may need Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source to follow a renal diet. This is also known as a kidney-friendly diet. This diet can include limiting or avoiding oatmeal.

Work with your doctor to determine the optimal diet for you.

How can I eat oatmeal with kidney disease? 

If you have kidney disease and want to eat oatmeal, you can optimize the health effects if you:

  • Choose raw, minimally processed oats over ready-made oatmeal. This may help avoid excess phosphorus and other additives.
  • Check the ingredients list when buying oats and oatmeal products.
  • Choose products that have under 150 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving and under 100 mg of potassium per serving.
  • Avoid oat products that are high in sugar or sodium.
  • Limit toppings and cereals containing dried fruit and nuts.
  • Avoid products that contain the following words on the ingredients list:
    • “sodium”
    • “phosphorus”
    • “phos”

The NKF also recommends choosing unprocessed toppings low in added sugar, such as:

  • blueberries
  • raisins
  • a small amount of butter or honey

These may help add flavor to oatmeal without adding ingredients that may not support kidney health.

Additionally, choosing plain oatmeal products can help you manage your sugar intake. In some cases, high blood sugar and diabetes can cause Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Governmental authority Go to source further damage to the kidneys. 

What milk is good for kidney disease?

Because cow’s milk can be high Trusted Source FoodData Central Highly respected food and nutrition database from the United States Department of Agriculture, Go to source in phosphorus, your doctor may suggest limiting your dairy intake if you have CKD. You also will need to check any milk alternatives for their mineral levels. 

A 2022 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggests that coconut milk may be an ideal dairy substitute for people with CKD. Coconut milk does not contain much potassium or sodium. Additionally, it is low in oxalate. Oxalate can combine with calcium to cause Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source progressive kidney failure

Other options lower in phosphorus and potassium can include some unfortified almond and rice milks.

Small amounts of other kinds of milk may be safe for people who do not need to follow a kidney-friendly diet.

What cereals are good for kidney disease?

According to the NKF, the following cereals can be low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus: 

  • some Barbara’s cereals, such as Barbara’s Corn Flakes and Barbara’s Multigrain Puffins
  • some Cascadian Farms cereals, such as Cascadian Farms Chocolate O’s and Cascadian Farms Cinnamon Crunch
  • some Kashi cereals, such as Kashi 7 Whole Grains Honey Puffs and Kashi Simply Maize Organic Corn
  • Apple Jacks
  • Corn Pops
  • Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat
  • Health Valley Rice Crunch-Ems
  • Honey Smacks

However, some of these cereals can be high in added sugars.

Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian for personal advice on food recommendations and serving sizes. Talk with your doctor before consuming any one food in high amounts or making significant diet changes.

Learn more about kidney-friendly breakfast options.

Other frequently asked questions

Jillian Kubala, M.S., R.D., has also reviewed the following frequently asked questions.

Are Quaker Oats good for kidneys?

Some Quaker Oats and other branded oat products can be a good option to support kidney health.

Try to choose whole or raw oatmeal products and prepare them at home to limit preprepared foods and additives.

Are oats good for high creatinine levels?

The same 2016 study suggests that consuming 50 g of oats per day did not have a significant positive or negative effect on serum creatinine levels. 

Measuring the creatinine levels in your blood can give doctors an indication of how well your kidneys are functioning.

What is a good breakfast for kidney disease? 

A nutritious breakfast for someone with kidney disease depends on the stage of kidney disease.

If your doctor has specifically recommended a kidney-friendly diet, a good rule of thumb is to limit anything preprepared and choose whole ingredients instead.

Some options include: 

  • eggs with a side of cauliflower and bell peppers
  • fresh mango smoothie with coconut milk, fresh spinach leaves, and whole peanut butter
  • soya yogurt or fromage frais with apples and honey

However, your medical team will make personal diet recommendations for you.

Summary

Oatmeal can be a good and nutritious option for people with kidney disease. In some cases, oatmeal may improve kidney health. However, if your doctor suggests a kidney-friendly diet, they may recommend limiting your daily or weekly intake of oatmeal. This is usually only necessary for people with severe or advanced CKD.

To optimize the health effects of oatmeal for kidney disease, choose whole, raw oatmeal products. Use toppings low in potassium, sodium, and added sugar. Coconut milk may also be a kidney-friendly option for preparing oatmeal at home.

Contact your doctor for personal advice about oatmeal and kidney disease or diet and kidney health.

Was this helpful?
54
  1. Borin, J. F., et al. (2022). Plant-based milk alternatives and risk factors for kidney stones and chronic kidney disease [Abstract]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34045136/
  2. Calvo, M. S., et al. (2021). Perspective: Plant-based whole-grain foods for chronic kidney disease: The phytate-phosphorus conundrum. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8634414/
  3. Creatinine. (n.d.). https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/what-creatinine
  4. Diabetes and chronic kidney disease. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/diabetes-kidney-disease.html
  5. Ermer, T., et al. (2016). Oxalate, inflammasome, and progression of kidney disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4891250/
  6. Gupta, R. K., et al. (2015). Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021/
  7. Nazar, C. M. J., et al. (2015). Efficacy of dietary interventions in end-stage renal disease patients; a systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5297504/
  8. Pimenta, E., et al. (2016). Effect of diet on serum creatinine in healthy subjects during a phase I study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5047024/
  9. Rouhani, M. H., et al. (2018). The impact of oat (Avena sativa) consumption on biomarkers of renal function in patients with chronic kidney disease: A parallel randomized clinical trial. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0261561416313395
  10. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. (2020). FoodData Central. fdc.nal.usda.gov
  11. What can I eat if I am following a renal diet? (2022). https://www.ouh.nhs.uk/patient-guide/leaflets/files/48362Pdiet.pdf
  12. Wilkens, K. (2017). Choosing the right breakfast cereal with CKD. https://www.kidney.org/newsletter/choosing-right-breakfast-cereal-ckd

Medical Reviewer: Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
Last Review Date: 2023 May 10
View All Kidney Disease Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.