Kidney Diet Tips

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Food Facts Friday: Coffee Creamers

Cup of coffee with cream and individual creamers in background

Is there anything better than a nice cup of coffee in the morning to start your day? There are so many ways to flavor your wake-up cup of coffee. If you are following a kidney diet, you may be wondering if you can keep drinking coffee. Yes, you can still drink it, but be aware of what you add to it and how much you drink. Not all coffee creamers are equal.

An 8-ounce cup of black coffee contains 116 mg potassium.1 This is considered low in potassium, but if you drink several cups of coffee a day it can add up.

Coffee Creamers

Creamers vary in nutrients and additives they contain, so it is important to look at the Nutrition Facts label and Ingredients list. Below is an example. Coffee creamers can add phosphorus and potassium.

The Nutrition Facts label does not always show how much phosphorus or potassium is in a creamer, but the Ingredients list will display potassium and phosphorus additives. It is recommended that people trying to limit phosphorus limit their intake of foods and beverages containing phosphorus additives.2 90% or more of the phosphorus from phosphorus additives is absorbed during digestion. Foods and beverages that contain naturally occurring phosphorus have an absorption rate of 40 to 60%.

The first table below shows some common coffee creamers that do contain phosphorus and potassium additives, while the second table shows some that do not.

Examples of Coffee Creamers with Potassium/Phosphorus Additives
Name Additives
Coffee Mate®, liquid (all flavors) Dipotassium phosphate
Coffee Mate®, powder Dipotassium phosphate
International Delight® creamer (all flavors, sugar-free, fat-free) Dipotassium phosphate
Starbucks® Non-dairy Caramel Flavored Creamer Made with almond milk; contains Potassium citrate
Starbucks® Non-dairy Hazelnut Flavored Creamer Made with almond milk; contains Potassium citrate
Silk® Almondmilk Creamer, Vanilla Potassium citrate
Silk® Dairy-free Soy Creamer Dipotassium phosphate

Examples of Coffee Creamers without Potassium/Phosphorus Additives
Name Ingredients
Coffee Mate natural bliss® vanilla creamer nonfat milk, heavy cream, cane sugar, natural flavor
Coffee Mate natural bliss® Vanilla Almond Milk creamer almond milk, coconut cream, cane sugar, natural vanilla
Coffee Mate natural bliss® Original Cashew Milk cashew milk (water, cashews), cane sugar, coconut oil, lemon juice from concentrate, baking soda, pea protein, natural flavor, almonds, gellan gum, guar gum
Coffee Mate natural bliss® Sweet Crème Coconut Milk almond milk (water, almonds), cane sugar, coconut oil, pea protein, baking soda, natural flavor, sea salt, gellan gum, guar gum
Starbucks® Pumpkin Spice Flavored Creamer nonfat milk, sugar, heavy cream, buttermilk, vegetable oil (high oleic soybean oil), natural flavor, gellan gum
Starbucks® Cinnamon Dolce Flavored Creamer nonfat milk, sugar, heavy cream, buttermilk, vegetable oil (high oleic soybean oil), natural flavor, gellan gum
Silk® Dairy Free Half & Half Alternative coconut milk (filtered water, coconut cream), oatmilk (filtered water, whole oat flour), organic coconut oil, faba bean protein, baking soda, natural flavor, gellan gum

Choosing a creamer that does not contain potassium or phosphorus additives can help reduce your daily potassium and phosphorus intake. If you do like the creamers that contain these additives, try to limit the amount used. One powdered creamer packet, or suggested liquid single serving is not high in potassium or phosphorus, but adding multiple servings in a cup of coffee can add up. 

When possible, choose the additive-free creamer. For example, if you love pumpkin spice flavoring in your homemade coffee, choose the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Flavored Creamer over the Coffee Mate Pumpkin Spice Creamer.

Types of Milk

If you like lattes or use milk instead of creamer, the type of milk you choose can add to the potassium and phosphorus in coffee. Dairy milk contains the greatest amount of potassium and phosphorus. Low-phosphorus milk alternatives include rice, soy, coconut and almond milk. Potassium content varies. It is important to read the labels as some products may contain additives. Milk alternatives labeled as “enriched” usually contain phosphorus additives and should be avoided.

Milk and Alternatives
Name Phosphorus (mg/cup) Potassium (mg/cup) Additives
Dairy milk 240 350
Silk® Almondmilk, unsweetened 24   170
Silk® soymilk 220 380 tricalcium phosphate
Silk® Organic soymilk 80 350
Rice Dream® Rice milk Original Classic 50 34   –
Rice Dream® Rice milk Original Enriched 150 N/A tricalcium phosphate

*Ingredients including additives in products can be subject to change. Always check the Nutrition Facts label for a complete and current list of ingredients.

Summary

You can still enjoy your coffee while following a kidney diet. Read the ingredients list to identify creamers that do not contain phosphorus and potassium additives. Use 1/2 cup or less of dairy milk or try a milk alternative, including almond, soy and rice milk that are not enriched.

References:

  1. Coffee and Kidney Disease: Is it Safe? Jessianna Saville. National Kidney Foundation. Accessed September 4, 2020. https://www.kidney.org/newsletter/coffee-and-kidney-disease.
  2. Organic Phosphorus Versus Inorganic Phosphorus: Empowering Adult Kidney Patients With Nutrition Education. Michelle Bump. Journal of Renal Nutrition. Vol 26, No 5 (September), 2016: ppe31-e33. https://www.jrnjournal.org/article/S1051-2276(16)30044-9/pdf.
  3. Coffee Mate Creamer. https://www.coffeemate.com/products/liquid/original/.
  4. International Delight Creamer. https://www.internationaldelight.com/products/coffee-creamers/flavor-faves/french-vanilla/.
  5. Starbucks at Home. https://athome.starbucks.com/product/salted-caramel-mocha-flavored-creamer/.
  6. Silk. https://silk.com/plant-based-products/almondmilk/unsweet-almondmilk/. https://silk.com/plant-based-products/soymilk/organic-unsweet-soymilk. https://silk.com/plant-based-products/soymilk/original-soymilk/.
  7. Rice Dream. http://www.dreamplantbased.com/product/rice-dream-classic-original-organic-rice-drink/. http://www.dreamplantbased.com/product/rice-dream-enriched-original-organic-rice-drink/.

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Sarah Alsing, MS, RD, CSR

Sarah Alsing, MS, RD, CSR

Sarah has been a dietitian since 2016 working in acute care, including transplant, and currently works in dialysis with in-center and peritoneal dialysis patients. She loves staying up-to-date on the latest nutrition research and discussing it with her patients. Sarah also has a passion for fitness and cooking healthy meals, as well as baking sweet treats for family and friends.