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Food Facts Friday: Frozen Dessert
What’s more refreshing on a hot summer afternoon than a frozen dessert? Whether you opt for an ice cream sundae, an ice pop, or a scoop of sherbet, a frozen dessert can fit into a kidney-friendly diet with some careful consideration. Read on to learn how to choose the best option for you.
Frozen Dessert Nutrients
The nutritional content of frozen desserts varies depending on the base ingredient. Frozen desserts based in water (ice pops, sherbet, shaved ice) will typically be lower in fat, phosphorus and potassium and high in added sugar. Frozen desserts based in milk or cream (such as ice cream or frozen yogurt) will typically contain fat, added sugar, potassium and phosphorus. Nutrient levels will also vary based on additional toppings, such as flavored syrups, candy, fruit and whipped cream.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 6 teaspoons or 24 grams per day for women and 9 teaspoons or 36 grams per day for men (1). Additionally, people with diabetes often must be mindful of added sugar for optimal blood glucose control. So, frozen desserts made with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar may be useful in maintaining a diet low in added sugar.
If you are limiting your potassium and phosphorus intake, frozen desserts that are water-based will make it easier to prevent exceeding your daily limit for these nutrients, although you can still enjoy dairy-based desserts with some adjustments to your diet. It’s also important to pay attention to the size of the portion you eat.
Frozen desserts also contribute to your daily fluid intake. If you have been instructed to limit your fluid intake, be sure to count the ounces in your frozen dessert towards your daily fluid allotment.
Popular Frozen Desserts
Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt
Ice cream and frozen yogurt are milk-based and thus are high in potassium, phosphorus and added sugar. For example, a 4-ounce serving of vanilla ice cream contains 263 mg potassium and 139 mg phosphorus (2). Potassium and phosphorus levels will increase if toppings such as fruit, chocolate, or nuts are added.
Low fat or sugar-free options are available if you are limiting these items. A 4-ounce serving of vanilla ice cream usually contains around 7 g of fat, while low fat ice cream contains only about 2.5 g of fat. Regular vanilla ice cream typically contains between 15 to 20 g of sugar per 4-ounce serving, while artificially sweetened ice cream usually contains 5 g or less of sugar (3).
Non-dairy ice creams, such as those made from almond or soy milk, can be lower in potassium and phosphorus but still contain high amounts of added sugar and fat. For example, one popular soymilk ice cream contains 80 mg potassium, 15 g sugar and 4 g fat per 3/4 cup serving (4). Check the food label for amounts of these nutrients, and talk to your dietitian to see how these options fit into your diet.
If you are prescribed phosphorus binders, ask your dietitian if you should take them when you eat ice cream and frozen yogurt. If you are limiting potassium intake, try to avoid other dairy products that day.
Four ounces of ice cream or frozen yogurt contributes 4-ounces of fluid, so be sure to decrease your fluid intake elsewhere if you have been told to limit your daily fluid intake.
Ice pops are typically low in potassium, unless they’re made with high potassium fruit juices such as orange juice or coconut water. Most ice pops are low in phosphorus, but always check the food label to assure they do not contain phosphorus additives. Ice pops can range from 5 g to 25 g of sugar (5).
A single stick popsicle counts as 3 ounces of fluid, and a double stick popsicle counts as 6 ounces of fluid. Be sure to cut back on your fluid intake accordingly so that you don’t exceed your daily fluid allotment.
Sherbet and Shaved Ice
Similar to ice pops, sherbet and shaved ice are low in phosphorus and fat. Choose options that don’t contain orange or coconut juice if limiting your potassium intake. Low-calorie or low-sugar options are a good choice for people with diabetes or a calorie restriction. Sherbet and shaved ice should also be counted towards your daily fluid allotment; a 4-ounce serving counts as 4-ounces of fluid.
Frozen desserts vary in nutrient content. Water-based frozen desserts are a better option when limiting potassium and phosphorus, however you can still enjoy dairy-based desserts in moderation while being mindful of other dietary sources of these nutrients, as well as taking phosphorus binders as instructed. All frozen desserts contribute to daily fluid intake and must be accounted for when tracking your fluids. Low-fat and low-sugar options are available if you are limiting these nutrients.
Check out these frozen dessert recipes:
No matter which kidney-friendly dessert you choose, enjoy your frozen treat!
- Added Sugars. The American Heart Association. Last reviewed on April 17, 2018. Accessed on June 24th, 2021. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars
- Renal Diet 101: Ice Cream. The Renal Tracker Blog. September 23, 2019. Accessed on June 24th, 2021. https://blog.renaltracker.com/healthy-kidney-diet/renal-diet-ice-cream/
- Is Ice Cream Good for You? Nutrition Facts and More. Healthline. September 2nd, 2019. Accessed on June 24th, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ice-cream#nutrients
- So Delicious Creamy Vanilla Soymilk Frozen Dessert. So Delicious Dairy Free. 2021. Accessed on June 24th, 2021. https://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/dairy-free-foods/dairy-free-frozen-desserts/soymilk/creamy-vanilla
- Popsicles: A Closer Look. Food and Health. 2021. Accessed on June 24th, 2021. http://foodandhealth.com/popsicles-a-closer-look/?printPost
Additional Kidney Diet Resources
Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:
- DaVita Food Analyzer
- DaVita Dining Out Guides
- Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks
- DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes
- Diet and Nutrition Articles
- Diet and Nutrition Videos
- Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes
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.