It is amazing how a simple common vegetable like pumpkin can play an important role in a kidney friendly diet. Let us find out how does pumpkin fit into a diet for stage 3 CKD?
Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene (precursor to vitamin A), and potassium. It is a good source of fiber and iron. One-half cup of fresh boiled, mashed, pumpkin contains 25 calories, 1 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 1 mg sodium, 37 mg phosphorus, 280 mg potassium and 1.3 g fiber.
Since potassium content is high, people on hemodialysis and others with high potassium levels or prescribed a low potassium diet should limit pumpkin.
To reduce potassium in fresh pumpkin, as well as potatoes, cut into small pieces and soak in a large pot of warm water to 2 hours or longer. An alternative is to boil the small pumpkin pieces for 10 minutes, drain and add fresh water, then boil until cooked. Potassium is usually reduced by 1/3 to ½ of the original amount.
Canned pumpkin puree is similar to fresh cooked pumpkin in potassium content, with 250 mg per ½ cup, and most brands do not contain added sodium. In comparison, ½ cup pumpkin pie filling contains 280 mg sodium, 186 mg potassium and 62 mg phosphorus. The pie filling has added salt, sugar, and spices such as allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Prepared, frozen pumpkin pie contains around 350 mg sodium, 250 mg potassium and 100 mg phosphorus for 1/6th of a 9-inch pie.
Pumpkin seed kernels are not kidney-friendly: 2 tablespoons contain 228 mg potassium and 332 mg phosphorus. If roasted with salt the sodium goes from 5 mg up to 160 mg.
Pumpkin is a healthy choice for kidney patients in earlier stages of CKD who do not require a potassium restriction. Fresh or low-sodium canned pumpkin puree is the best choice. For patients on a low potassium diet, pumpkin can be included in small amounts. For best results, stick to recipes modified for a kidney-friendly diet to keep potassium, phosphorus and sodium intake in check.
So what can you do with a fresh pumpkin? Make a pumpkin halwa or homemade pumpkin soup. Pumpkin being sweet on its own can be made into a desert at any point in time. Just use your imagination and make use of this delicious vegetable.