You might be surprised to find out that your favorite coffee drink has more sodium than you probably think. Plain black coffee doesn’t contain any sodium, but adding milk or creamer to your coffee, or ordering a specialty espresso drink from your favorite coffee shop can add a significant amount of sodium to your diet.
In this article, we’re going to discuss sodium in coffee. We’ll cover how much sodium is in popular drinks from Starbucks, provide some tips for choosing low-sodium coffee beverages, and give you a surefire way to avoid sodium in coffee, even when you don’t have access to nutrition facts.
Before we talk about choosing low-sodium coffee drinks, we need to establish a baseline for what low-sodium means. Healthy adults are advised to consume no more than 2,200 mg of sodium per day. For reference, an average pretzel — the poster child of salty snacks — contains approximately 360 mg of sodium.
People with heart conditions or high blood pressure are usually recommended to limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. With these references in hand, we’re ready to discuss sodium in coffee.
The simplest way to avoid adding sodium to your diet through coffee is to drink black coffee. Coffee by itself has 0 mg of sodium, making it a good choice for people limiting their sodium intake.
However, if you are limiting sodium intake due to an underlying heart condition or high blood pressure, be aware that caffeine consumption can exacerbate the problem. Caffeine is known to raise blood pressure in the short term, but most medical professionals hold the opinion that it isn’t dangerous in the long run.
Moderate caffeine consumption of 400 mg or 4-5 cups of coffee is safe for most people.
Cappuccinos, Lattes, and Macchiatos
Espresso on its own, like coffee, doesn’t contain any sodium. However, these drinks contain various amounts of milk, which does have some sodium content.
One cup of whole milk has 120 mg of sodium, while reduced-fat, low-fat, and fat-free milk each contains 130 mg.
Since cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos contain varying amounts of milk, they each have slightly different sodium levels.
The trend here is clear: more milk equals more sodium.
Having more milk isn’t the only way for a drink to have elevated sodium levels. Including other ingredients like chocolate, caramel, or other flavor sauces can also raise your drink’s sodium content. Mochas from Starbucks have more sodium than the espresso beverages we covered in the last section, with the white chocolate mocha tipping the sodium scales.
The white chocolate mocha has several things working against it. First, it contains more milk than a regular mocha, which puts it behind right from the start. More of a factor, however, is that salt is one of the ingredients! We imagine this is for a technical reason to balance flavors.
Drinking a grande White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks takes up a surprising 10% of the recommended daily amount of sodium for a healthy person and 18% for someone on a restricted sodium diet.
Specialty Cold Brews
Regular iced coffee, like regular hot coffee, doesn’t contain any sodium, but adding certain flavors and auxiliary ingredients can dramatically increase the sodium content.
Here is a quick rundown of three of the most popular cold coffees at Starbucks to give you a sense of how much the amount of sodium can vary.
The Starbucks Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew takes the cake for the saltiest coffee we’ve encountered, which isn’t surprising since “salted” is in the name. Still, it is eye-opening to see a coffee that takes up 15% of the daily recommended sodium intake.
Managing your sodium intake can be challenging, but, thankfully, navigating a coffee shop menu with low sodium in mind is fairly easy. Coffee itself doesn’t contain any sodium, and most specialty drinks only have modest amounts.
However, some drinks like the White Chocolate Mocha and Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew have significant sodium content and should be avoided by people on low-sodium diets.
Featured Image Credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh, Pexels