Handpicked Low-Phosphorus Foods for a Kidney Diet

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician.

Knowing the top low-phosphorus foods to choose when you have kidney disease can help you stay as healthy as possible. Research shows that even in early kidney disease, limiting phosphorus makes a difference in kidney disease progression, mineral and bone disorders and cardiovascular health. A low-phosphorus diet ranges from 800 to 1,200 mg daily, dependant on your protein goal. People with higher protein diets may have higher phosphorus prescriptions because high protein foods also contain phosphorus. Here is a collection of the top low-phosphorus foods for a kidney diet.

Low-phosphorus meat and poultry choices

Fresh or frozen red meats without additives or enhancements are better choices (be sure to check ingredient labels; even fresh chicken and pork may be injected with phosphates) for a kidney diet. Choose meats without breading, marinades or sauce. On average, fresh meat contains 65 mg of phosphorus per ounce and 7 grams of protein per ounce.

Phosphorus content for a 3-ounce portion, cooked:

Beef, pot roast: 155 mg

Beef, sirloin steak: 190 mg

Chicken breast, skinless: 190 mg

Chicken thigh, skinless: 150 mg

Hamburger patty 90% lean ground beef: 170 mg

Lamb chop: 185 mg

Pork chop: 200 mg

Pork roast: 190

Turkey breast meat, skinless: 185 mg

Turkey thigh meat, skinless: 170 mg

Veal chop: 200 mg


Low-phosphorus fish choices 

Fish is a high-quality protein that contains omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty saltwater fish such as salmon and tuna are highest in omega-3, reducing inflammation and protecting against heart disease and cancer.

Phosphorus content for a 3-ounce portion, cooked:

Mahi Mahi: 155 mg

Rockfish: 195 mg

Salmon, Atlantic, farmed: 215 mg

Sea bass: 210 mg

Tuna, canned: 130 mg

Yellow fin tuna: 210 mg

Low-phosphorus seafood choices

Seafood is an excellent source of very low-fat, high-quality protein. However, there are differences in varieties of the same species. For example, Pacific oysters contain 50 mg more phosphorus in a 3-ounce serving compared to Eastern oysters.

Phosphorus content for a 3-ounce portion, cooked:

King crab: 192 mg

Lobster: 160 mg

Oysters, Eastern: 120 mg

Shrimp: 120 mg

Snow crab: 120 mg


Low-phosphorus breads

Bread is a good source of carbohydrates and calories needed by your body for energy production. While whole grain bread is a healthy source of fiber, it also has more phosphorus and potassium than white flour bread.

Phosphorus content for a 1-ounce portion, (usually one piece of bread):

Bagel, cinnamon raisin, blueberry, plain, onion, 1 ounce: 53-70 mg

Corn tortilla, 6-inch: 75 mg

English muffin, 1 ounce: 52-76 mg

Flat bread: 48 mg

Flour tortillas, made without baking powder: 20-37 mg

French bread or rolls: 28 mg

Italian bread or rolls: 29 mg

Light wheat bread: 38 mg

Pita bread, white: 58 mg

Sourdough bread: 30 mg

White bread: 25 mg


Low-phosphorus pasta and rice

Pasta, rice and other grains are a great source of carbohydrates, calories and B vitamins, plus zinc, copper and iron. For a kidney diet, whole grains like brown rice, oat bran and wild rice are limited due to the higher phosphorus content. A half cup of brown rice has 75-81 mg of phosphorus which can add up if you eat a larger portion.

Phosphorus content for a 1/2 cup portion, cooked:

Couscous: 20 mg

Egg noodles: 50-60 mg

Macaroni: 40 mg

Pearled barley: 43 mg

Plain white rice, short, medium or long grain: 35 mg

Rice noodles: 14-28 mg

Spaghetti: 42 mg


Low-phosphorus dairy, dairy substitutes and egg whites

Milk and milk products are high in calcium and phosphorus, so finding an acceptable lower phosphorus substitute is a must. A half cup of milk (4 ounces) contains 111-138 mg of phosphorus. Some liquid dairy substitutes can be used in cooking to replace milk, but not all products are interchangeable. Read ingredient lists to look for phosphate additives in nondairy products. Some products are fortified with calcium-phosphate. Beware of the ones that promote “high in calcium” as these are also high in phosphorus. Eggs are a great protein source but also contain 95 mg phosphorus in a large egg. Remove the yolk and phosphorus is only 5 mg for each egg white.

Phosphorus content for a 1/2 cup portion, unless stated otherwise:

Almond milk, Almond Breeze®, original: 50 mg

Nondairy creamer without phosphate additives: 40-53 mg

Nondairy whipped topping, 2 tablespoons: 0-10 mg

Sherbet: 38 mg

Sour cream, 2 tablespoons: 20-40 mg

Soy milk varies by brand: 50-125 mg

Unenriched rice milk without calcium-phosphate additives: 29 mg

Egg whites, pasteurized 15 mg

Low-phosphorus snacks

Crackers, cookies, candy, fruits or vegetables — all are appealing snack foods.There are many low-phosphorus choices for your kidney diet.

Apple, 1 medium: 10 mg

Applesauce, 1/2 cup: 6 mg

Baby carrots, 9 pieces: 25 mg

Biscotti, without chocolate or nuts, 1 ounce: 35-50 mg

Blueberries, 1/2 cup: 9 mg

Celery, 1 stalk: 10 mg

Cherries, 1/2 cup: 15 mg

Fig bars, 2 bars: 10-25 mg

Fruit candies, hard, chews or gummy: 0 mg

Fruit cocktail, 1/2 cup: 17 mg

Gelatin, without phosphate additives: 20-30 mg

Low sodium crackers, 1 ounce: 20-35 mg

Peach, 1 medium: 10 mg

Peach, 1 medium: 10 mg

Pineapple, fresh, 1/2 cup: 6 mg

Radishes, 10: 9 mg

Shortbread cookies, 4 cookies: 17-35 mg

Sorbet, 1/2 cup: 2-6 mg

Strawberries, fresh, 1/2 cup: 18 mg

Unsalted popcorn, 1 cup: 8 mg

Unsalted pretzels, 1 ounce: 20-40 mg

Vanilla wafers, 1 ounce = 5-8 cookies: 12-20 mg

Lower phosphorus cheese choices

All cheese contains phosphorus with most having 120-250 mg per ounce; some contain more than 300 mg per ounce. The suggested portion for a dialysis diet is usually one ounce of cheese 1-2 times a week if phosphorus is controlled. Check with your dietitian for individual recommendations. Cream cheese-based spreads are much lower in phosphorus than cheese-based spreads. Portion control is key when it comes to cheese!

Low-phosphorus cheese choices:

Blue cheese, 1 ounce: 110 mg

Cottage cheese, 1/4 cup: 92 mg

Cream cheese, 2 tablespoons: 20-40 mg

Feta cheese, 1 ounce: 96 mg

Neufchatel cheese, 1 ounce: 39 mg

Parmesan cheese, grated, 2 tablespoons: 72 mg

Managing a low-phosphorus diet

You can manage your phosphorus levels by learning how to make low-phosphorus food choices and limiting the higher phosphorus foods you choose to eat. For meals made at home, try to get fresh, unprocessed ingredients to help control phosphorus levels in your kidney-friendly diet. There are many tasty, lower phosphorus food options that can help you be as healthy as possible.

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