Everything You Need To Know About Plant Based Milks for Pre-Dialysis (CKD Diet)
The goal of a pre-dialysis diet is to minimize the risk for both nutritional and non-nutritional complications and of course to keep you off of dialysis. This means that your diet should be low in phosphorus, protein, and potassium. Milk is a staple in homes across the world, but, unfortunately, it isn’t kidney-friendly and it's considered an animal protein if you are a vegan. That doesn’t mean you have to give it up altogether as there are some great substitutes out there. In this blog post, we will cover everything you need to know about the types of milk and switching from animal-based milk to plant-based milks and dairy products for pre-dialysis patients who are on a CKD Diet!
Is your milk kidney-friendly?
If you have chronic kidney disease you are likely watching your intake of liquids, and the levels of certain nutrients in your foods. However, you may not have thought about the levels of those nutrients and the differences among the milk you consume. There are many different kinds of milks available now for all of those who want to enjoy it. In this article, we will discuss and compare the potassium, phosphorus, and protein levels in several plant-based alternatives. This way you can make an informed decision about what plant-based milk to use in your diet when you are following a plant-based diet.
Is cow’s milk a good option for kidney patients?
Cow’s milk is not a good option for kidney patients as it contains a high level of phosphorus, along with calcium, which could actually have the opposite effect of strengthening one’s bones. The combination of high calcium and phosphorus could cause calcification in the body. This is due to the excess phosphorus that builds up in the blood due to kidney damage. Therefore, it is much better for those with chronic kidney disease to consider some of these plant-based milk alternatives on a plant-based diet.
Plant-Based Milk Alternatives to Consider
Rice milk is made by pressing the rice, usually brown rice, filtering, and then blending with water. This can be used for cereals, healthy rice puddings, and other desserts. You may want to avoid this option if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, as it contains the highest amount of starches and carbohydrates out of all of the options.
Potassium in Rice milk
Rice Dream Classic contains 34 milligrams of potassium in one cup, making it one of the lowest potassium options behind almond milk. Rice Dream enriched contains even less at 30 milligrams in one cup, so this is a low potassium option for those who have trouble controlling this nutrient in their diets. You want to find the unenriched versions, though, as they have far fewer additives and are a safer option for those pre-dialysis kidney patients.
Phosphorus in Rice milk
Rice Dream Classic has 30 milligrams of phosphorus in one cup, one of the lowest amounts among our alternatives. Once again you will want to buy the unenriched version as the Rice Dream Enriched contains more than double this amount at 75 milligrams of phosphorus per cup.
Protein in Rice milk
This Rice Dream Classic only contains 1 gram of protein per cup, so it is a nice alternative for those on protein strict diets for their chronic kidney disease management.
Coconut milk is made from the blended pulp of coconuts, resulting in a white milky liquid. It has a rich, somewhat sugary taste. It contains high levels of calories and fats, so if you are looking to gain weight while on a chronic kidney disease diet, this may be an easy way to consume one’s calories for the day. In contrast, if you are diabetic, this is not a good option as it contains many fats, and could raise cholesterol levels in struggling patients.
Potassium in Coconut Milk
Coconut milk contains a high level of potassium, at an average of 333 milligrams per serving size. This is by far the highest potassium content level among our alternatives, so it should be consumed in moderation and is not the best option for a whole milk replacement for people with kidney disease.
Phosphorus in Coconut Milk
The phosphorus content is also among the higher levels for our list of alternatives, sitting at 127 milligrams per serving. While this is lower than traditional whole cow’s milk, it is still not the best alternative for a full replacement and should be consumed in moderation.
Protein in Coconut Milk
The protein content is higher than that of the rice milk at 3 milligrams of protein per serving. This level is slightly lower than whole cow’s milk, but it is among the higher protein contents of our plant-based alternatives.
Almond milk is likely the most well-known and consumed plant-based milk alternative. It is made by soaking almonds in water, blending them, and then straining the remaining leftovers through a cheesecloth. This is a thick, creamy, and nutty liquid that can be used in any recipe that calls for cow’s milk. Obviously, this alternative is not for those who have tree nut allergies.
Potassium in Almond Milk
Silk True Almond Vanilla contains one of the lowest levels of our animal milk alternatives. In one serving size of this almond milk, there are 30 milligrams of potassium. This is one of the most accessible low potassium options for those looking for a dietary change.
Phosphorus in Almond Milk
The phosphorus levels in Silk True Almond Vanilla are the lowest on this list at only 15 milligrams per serving size. This is one of the best options for those chronic kidney disease patients who may be struggling with cutting phosphorus out of their diets.
Protein in Almond Milk
At only 0.5 milligrams of protein, Silk True Almond Vanilla is also one of the best options for those on strict diets that monitor protein intake.
This plant-based milk alternative is gaining popularity and is actually a healthy alternative for those pre-dialysis patients with kidney disease. It is made similarly to almond milk in that the oats are soaked in water, blended together, and then strained through a cheesecloth. This gives it a thicker, creamy texture with a flavor reminiscent of oatmeal.
Potassium in Oat Milk
In an 8-ounce serving of oat milk, there are 131 milligrams of potassium. This is a higher level than the rice and almond milk options, but still much lower than whole cow’s milk.
Phosphorus in Oat Milk
150 milligrams of phosphorus are in an 8-ounce serving of oat milk, which is higher than some diets may like but is still a nice plant-based alternative to other options. There are additives in many oat milks, just like those with rice milks, so it is important to buy brands with no additives and as little phosphorus as possible.
Protein in Oat Milk
One of our highest rates of protein is contained in this oat milk option. An 8-ounce serving contains 5 milligrams of protein. If you are a pre-dialysis patient, you may not have to watch your liquid intake that closely but you could be on a strict protein diet, which means you will have to closely monitor how much protein you consume from this milk option.
Soy milk was one of the first plant-based alternatives to become common among vegan and lactose intolerant individuals. This option can also be a choice for those on chronic kidney disease diets, as it offers low calcium and caloric intake. It is made by soaking soybeans in water, boiling the mixture, and filtering out any remaining chunks or particles.
Potassium in Soy Milk
Potassium levels in this option are quite high, so it may not be the best for those who are struggling with this nutrient in their diet. In one serving size, there is 173 milligrams of potassium. While there are better alternatives for milks with lower amounts of potassium, this is still a reasonable option for those who are pre-dialysis kidney disease patients, as it has very few calories.
Phosphorus in Soy Milk
Phosphorus content in soy milk varies widely between 60 to 120 milligrams per serving size. Much like our other options, you want to buy the one without phosphorus and other additives because they will offer the best health benefits for those with chronic kidney disease.
Protein in Soy Milk
There are 3.3 grams of protein in an average serving size of soy milk. This is a fairly median level of dietary protein intake among these alternatives so it is nothing of concern for most who are managing kidney disease.
Pea milk is a newer product, and there is not much information out on how helpful it is to those with chronic kidney disease. It is made by mixing pea protein, water, thickeners, oils, and several phosphates and vitamins. Since it is made with the addition of phosphates it is not the best option for a renal diet, as this is an important factor that should be avoided and minimized in kidney-friendly diets.
Potassium in Pea Milk
The potassium levels in ripple's unsweetened Pea milk are 405 milligrams per 8-ounce serving. This is the highest level of the alternatives on this list, so it is not the best option for an alternative to cow’s milk.
Phosphorus in Pea Milk
There is no information about the specific milligrams of phosphorus in pea milk. However, the ingredients in Ripple's unsweetened Pea milk lists tricalcium phosphate and dipotassium phosphate. So, there are two forms of phosphorus additives in this type of plant-based milk, indicating it wouldn’t be a great choice for those with chronic kidney disease.
Protein in Pea Milk
This brand of pea milk that is unsweetened from ripple contains 8 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving size, also putting it at the highest protein-containing milk among these options.
So… What plant-based milk is best for pre-dialysis CKD patients
This article provided information and dietary recommendations on several different plant-based milks which pre-dialysis patients can use in place of other options. We went through the levels of potassium, phosphorus, and sources of protein in all of these and can come to a conclusion that gives kidney disease patients a healthy and safe alternative.
The best options for those on CKD diets and a food plan based on nutritional status and dietary assessment would be almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk. While the other options may be good in moderation, they should not be used as a staple alternative like the ones I have just listed. Almond, rice, and soy milks offer the lowest amounts of phosphorus, potassium, and protein contents. This means this type of milk can safely replace whole or low-fat animal milks in everyday use, and you can still have variety within those choices!