It can be tough to find low potassium desserts on a renal diet for chronic kidney disease. Since the beginning of diagnosis, many are told desserts must go. We are here to inform you that this is no longer the case. This article can help you choose the best kidney-friendly desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth.
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Table of Contents
Why is potassium important for kidney patients?
Kidneys work to rid the body of waste and excess minerals, such as potassium.
Although potassium is crucial in the functioning of the body when in excess can cause some complications.
Hyperkalemia is a result of too much potassium more commonly found in chronic kidney diseases. Further complications may potentially cause heart problems such as arrhythmia.
Because of this risk, most people with kidney disease need to follow a low-potassium diet.
Whichever stage of renal disease, it is important to discuss with your healthcare team the amount of potassium that is best for you.
How to Find Low Potassium Desserts
A dessert that is considered low in potassium should be under 200 milligrams (mg) of potassium per serving.
You can find the potassium amount on the nutrition label in one of two places.
Most often, potassium may be listed in the middle of the nutrition label underneath sodium.
The second place is towards the bottom of the nutrition label. Potassium can be found listed with other nutrients including vitamin D, calcium, and iron.
Including Low Potassium Desserts in a Healthy Renal Diet
Oftentimes chronic kidney disease is associated with unique considerations such as elevated blood sugars.
Higher consumption of sugar also puts an increased risk for high serum uric acid levels.
Please keep in mind that desserts are just that: sugar.
Choose low sugar or no sugar added items.
The best way to protect our kidneys is to limit sugar to less than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. Doing this will help protect kidney health.
Always check the label to see the total sugars. Total sugars combine added sugars and those already naturally found within a product.
Sugars and Sugar Substitutes
While sugar does not improve kidney health. It is okay to consume in moderation and not necessary in every meal.
Dessert is a treat and therefore portioned control is recommended. These days you can find plenty of alternatives and sugar replacers.
Test out which you like best and start incorporating them next time you want to sweeten things up.
More references about sugar and substitutes can be found in our candy article here.
Examples of Low Potassium Desserts
There are plenty of options available for desserts that can fit into a low potassium diet. Desserts lower in potassium include;
- Low potassium fruit tarts or pastries
- Ice cream/ homemade sorbets
- White Chocolate Mousse (plant milk-based)
- Rice Pudding with plant-based milk
Let’s go into some detail about some of these low potassium desserts.
Ice cream has come a long way since it was first introduced, we can find more plant-based ice cream these days.
But even with non-dairy products, there can be excess amounts of sugar, and phosphorus, not to mention all the hidden additives.
If it melts, it is a liquid, and to further avoid water accumulation we suggest reconsidering the portion size of ice cream you consume.
Consider speaking to your health care team on the amount of fluid that works for you. Read more about fluid restriction here.
Here are some products to look for on your next trip to the store or ice cream parlor.
Dairy-Based Ice Cream
Dairy products contain high amounts of calcium.
Too much calcium can cause the parathyroid to overact leading to what is called hypercalcemia.
Hypercalcemia can weaken the bones.
Milk also has a higher potassium and phosphorus content compared to plant-based alternatives.
The recommendation for phosphorus in CKD is 800 – 1200 mg phosphorus per day.
If you are going to enjoy ice cream try a non-dairy option.
Dairy-Based Ice Cream Comparison Table
The table below reviews the potassium in certain dairy-based ice cream options. Each is per ¾ cup serving size.
|Brands||Flavor||Potassium (mg)||Phosphorus (mg)(*includes additives)||Protein (g)||Sugar (g)|
|Breyers Carb Smart||Vanilla||110 mg||*||2 g||4 g|
|Breyers Carb Smart||Mint and Chip||140 mg||n/a||2 g||11 g|
|Breyers Carb Smart||Peanut Butter||140 mg||n/a||3 g||8 g|
|Umpqua||Rainbow Sherbert||37 mg||n/a||1 g||36 g|
|Baskin Robbin||Cherry Jubilee||119 mg||n/a||2 g||15 g|
|Haagen Dazs||Lemon Sorbet||0 mg||n/a||0 g||36 g|
Plant-Based Ice Cream
Although some ice cream brands are better options for those with renal disease, it is best and safer to opt for dairy-free ice cream.
Plant-based Ice Cream Comparison Table
|Brands||Flavor||Potassium (mg)||Phosphorus (mg)(*includes additives)||Protein (g)||Sugar (g)|
|Breyers non-dairy||Mint and chip||0||n/a||1g||19 g|
|Breyers non-dairy||Vanilla peanut butter swirl||0||n/a||3 g||15 g|
|Oatly||Strawberry Frozen Dessert||60 mg||n/a||1g||20 g|
|Arctic zero||pistachio||10 mg||0||2 g||8 g|
|Arctic zero||Cake batter||10 mg||0||2 g||8 g|
|Arctic zero||vanilla||10 mg||0||2 g||8 g|
Low Potassium Ice Cream Toppings
Most ice cream toppings are kidney-friendly. Examples of low potassium ice cream toppings include:
- Plant-based whipped topping (soy, coconut, rice-milk based are all great!)
- White Chocolate Sauce
Just a drizzle of milk chocolate if you just can’t say no. It is alright to have a little treat or go with white chocolate.
Cookies & Bars
There are many low potassium cookie options available that can fit into a renal diet. Some examples include:
- Sugar Cookies
- Lemon bars
- White chocolate chip
|Brands||Flavor||Potassium (mg)||Phosphorus (mg) (*includes additives)||Protein (g)||Sugar (g)|
|Little Debbie’s (1 each)||Hunny Bun||52 mg||*||3 g||13 g|
|Little Debbie’s (1 each)||Birthday Cakes||20 mg||*||1 g||20 g|
|Nabisco (8 each)||Honey Maid Grahams||65 mg||*||2 g||8 g|
|Nabisco (8 each)||Nilla||35 mg||*||1 g||12 g|
|Oreos (4 each)||Golden||44 mg||n/a||2.1 g||18.4 g|
|Pepperidge Farm (2 each)||Sugar||50 mg||n/a||2 g||22 g|
We looked into cookies and treat items that are found in almost every grocery store and compared them to the amount of potassium, protein, and phosphorus.
Food ingredients are bound to change at times. A good habit is label reading.
It’s important to look for additives like phosphorus.
Who doesn’t like to bake? It is relaxing, it is fun, or sometimes we just need something for the potluck.
Regardless of why you choose to bake there are some things to take into consideration when getting down in the kitchen.
Ingredients for cakes often consist of flour, sugar, and baking powder
Say yes to angel cake, pound cake, cheesecake, spice, or lemon-flavored without any worries.
When craving a chocolate cake we suggest white chocolate with perhaps a tiny bit of milk chocolate chips in there.
Not only is chocolate high in potassium but also phosphorus and oxalates.
Read more on chocolate and kidneys here.
Phosphorus in Baking Powder
Traditional cakes usually consist of baking powder. However, baking powder contains a high amount of phosphorus.
One teaspoon contains around 460 mg of phosphorus.
As mentioned earlier potassium is required to be included on food labels, however, phosphorus is not.
There are alternatives to baking powder.
[affiliate link to phos-free baking powder on amazon]
Which Flour is Best for Kidney Patients?
Flour substitutes and endless varieties are on the market from chickpea to almond, which you can find almost at every grocery store these days.
If not there is always Amazon, right?
Keep in mind some may absorb more liquid than others for example coconut flour. Also, every flour has a different amount of potassium, phosphorus, and protein.
So which is best? Here are some comparisons and it’s up to you to decide which taste you prefer.
Pies are usually made with simple ingredients.
Store-bought pies usually contain higher amounts of sodium to increase their shelf life.
When seeking a pie choose pie that is filled with kidney-friendly fruits.
Custard filled are high in phosphorus. Nut-filled pies contain more protein.
High Potassium Desserts & What to Watch For
- Dark chocolate
- Fruits high in potassium (banana, cherries, honeydew, nectarines, plums, permission)
Research shows potassium additives are a new arising problem, as many processed food contain them.
They are often used to preserve and make items more palatable while reducing the sodium content.
It is still unknown which foods contain additives.
Please be aware that many processed and meat products contain potassium additives.
When choosing desserts it is better to opt for the ones with minimal, unprocessed ingredients such as pies or homemade items.
Knowing what goes into your food is the safest option when choosing to enjoy dessert.
Desserts are a treat and no one should feel as if they are missing out on such a joy. To satisfy your craving look for items with this in mind.
When it comes to choosing desserts remember to aim for potassium less than 200 mg per serving.
Examples of low potassium desserts include sugar cookies, graham crackers, cheesecake, angel food, spice, or lemon cake.
High potassium desserts include dark chocolate and some fruit desserts, like sweet potato pie.
Try to minimize sugar, especially if you are experiencing elevated sugar levels, try natural sugar substitutes.
When possible, homemade desserts will give more control of any additional ingredients or additives.
Jen Hernandez is a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in renal nutrition. She has nearly a decade of experience with kidney disease patients in all stages - from stage 1 through kidney transplant. Jen writes on the blog of Plant-Powered Kidneys to help reach and teach more kidney patients about how they can enjoy more foods in a plant-based diet while protecting kidney health.