Kidney Diet Tips

Milk substitutes for kidney diets


Got milk? Americans are familiar with the milk ad campaign that shows up on television and in magazines. Celebrities sport a milk mustache that  promotes health benefits of drinking milk. For people with kidney disease on dialysis, milk restriction is advised. Milk is high in potassium, phosphorus and calcium-some of the nutrients that become out of balance when the kidneys are no longer working. Milk is often limited by chronic kidney disease patients who are on a lower protein diet.

‘Got milk substitute?’ and ‘Which products are best?’ are most likely the questions most people following a kidney diet are asking.

DaVita dietitian Chien-Wei Kung, RD researched milk substitutes and published her results in the March 2010 Journal of Renal Nutrition. Milk replacement products include nondairy creamers, soy milk, rice milk and almond milk. Many of these products are lower in the minerals of concern for a kidney diet, but there are a lot of variations between brands. Some substitutes have added calcium and phosphorus and some have phosphate containing food additives. Other products have potassium levels similar to milk. Beware of Hemp milk which tends to be quite high in potassium.

As Kung mentions in her article, manufacturers reformulate their products often, so it’s a challenge to keep updated on which milk substitutes are best for a kidney diet. Here are a few of the products that are lowest in potassium, sodium, phosphorus and calcium.

Soy milk- Hain Celestial WestSoy® plain and vanilla, Edensoy® light original

Rice milk- Hain Celestial Rice Dream® original, Pacific Foods, Pacific® plain rice, Trader Joe’s rice drink, organic, original, unsweetened, Whole Foods market 365 organic rice milk, unsweetened

Almond milk- Pacific Foods Pacific® organic, almond original unsweetened and vanilla, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze® original and vanilla

Nondairy creamers- Rich’s Coffee Rich®, Bay Valley Foods Mocha Mix® original, Nestle Coffeemate®

Many recipes in the recipe collection use milk substitutes instead of milk to help lower potassium and phosphorus content. Here are some of my favorites:

Make Ahead Pancake Batter

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Creamy Pasta Primavera

Zucchini Casserole

White Gravy for Casseroles or Pot Pies

Home-style Vanilla Ice Cream

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Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.