Addressing the complex challenges of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, especially prevalent in African American communities, requires innovative approaches beyond conventional medical strategies. The impact of socio-economic factors on the high rates of these diseases calls for targeted interventions. Emphasizing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, a new initiative aims to leverage the potential health benefits of these foods, enhanced by practical cooking instructions. This strategy is rooted in the understanding that dietary modifications can play a crucial role in slowing the progression of CKD and reducing the risks associated with CVD, offering hope for significant health improvements through accessible means.

In this pioneering research published in Kidney Medicine, led by Professor Donald Wesson from Dell Medical School – The University of Texas, and Heather Kitzman from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, along with Professor Jan Simoni from Texas Tech University, and a committed team from Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, including Patricia Allison, Dr. Kristen Tecson, Abdullah Mamun, Mahbuba Khan, and Dr. Aisha Montgomery, , reveals a straightforward yet impactful strategy to fight CKD and CVD within traditionally impacted African American communities. This study brings to light the significant health benefits of integrating fruits and vegetables into one’s diet, with an added boost from culinary guidance.

Professor Wesson shared insights on the foundation of this research, “Our group’s interventional studies support that adding fruits and veggies to the diets of individuals identified by the healthcare system with albuminuria mitigated kidney injury in early-stage CKD, decelerated the decline of kidney function, and reduced parameters indicating cardiovascular risk, proving to be cost-effective. A notable number of participants in these earlier studies benefited from cooking instructions alongside the provided fruits and veggies.”

The strategy adopted by the initiative was community-based, targeting African American adults showing signs of kidney damage and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease through elevated urine albumin-creatinine ratios. The study divided participants into two groups: one received fruits and vegetables, and the other received the same with cooking instructions, over a period that spanned several months.

“This feasibility trial importantly demonstrated that participants who received cooking instructions alongside fruits and vegetables experienced a more pronounced reduction in kidney damage markers than those who received fruits and vegetables alone. These findings underscore the added value of cooking instructions in harnessing the full health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables,” Professor Wesson elaborated further.

Designed to be both accessible and practical for community settings, the intervention provided a ray of hope for underserved populations. By offering a simple dietary adjustment—the increase of fruit and vegetable intake coupled with culinary education—the study marks a significant leap towards managing and potentially reversing the progression of chronic diseases.

“Previous studies from our laboratory indicated that the intervention led to improvements in kidney health indicators from the first month,” noted Professor Wesson, underscoring the immediate benefits of the dietary changes. “Our current study reinforces that cooking instructions alongside fruit and vegetable intake can effectively improve health markers associated with increased risks of CVD and CKD.” This initiative has not only shown promising outcomes in reducing signs of kidney damage but also emphasized the crucial role of dietary education in enhancing health results. The findings serve as a rallying cry for the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables in our diets, spotlighting the importance of culinary skills in optimizing these dietary modifications.


Kitzman, H., Montgomery, A. H., Khan, M., Mamun, A., Tecson, K. M., Allison, P., Simoni, J., & Wesson, D. E. (2023). The Fruit and Veggies for Kidney Health Study: A Prospective Randomized Trial. Kidney Medicine, 5(12), 100736. DOI:


Prof Donald E. Wesson

Dr. Wesson is immediate Past President of the Baylor Scott & White Health and Wellness Center in Dallas, TX and is Professor of Medicine, Dell Medical School-The University of Texas at Austin. He is a long-time advocate for improving the health of communities through focused, data driven population health initiatives. Dr. Wesson is a thought-leader in academic medicine and an internationally recognized researcher in kidney acidifying mechanisms. He has translated his basic science studies to clinical studies examining the role of nutrition in population health and the kidney-protective benefit of nutrition. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers regarding kidney physiology, more than a dozen books about kidney disease and hypertension, and many other papers on cigarette smoking and its effects on kidneys.

Dr. Wesson received his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He attended Washington University School of Medicine and earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine (Houston), completed his Internal Medicine residency and internship at Baylor College of Medicine, and his nephrology research fellowship at the University of Illinois (Chicago). He earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas (Austin). Dr. Wesson was appointed Secretary-Treasurer of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) in 2007 after serving on many ASN committees since 1996. He is Past Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) (2007-2008) and Past Chair of its Foundation (2012-2014) and served the ABIM 2001-2015. He has also held multiple positions within the National Kidney Foundation.  He is currently Deputy Clinical Editor of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.