Top Low-Phosphorus Food Choices for a Kidney Diet

By DaVita dietitian Jackie Termont, RD

What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus is a mineral that your body uses for many important jobs. These jobs include building strong bones and teeth, and keeping our body's natural balance (pH level) just right. Learn more about how phosphorus helps the body here.

Phosphorus and chronic kidney disease

We get phosphorus from the foods we eat. When you have CKD, your kidneys can't get rid of extra phosphorus in your blood as well as they used to. This means the phosphorus levels can build up. To manage this, it's important to work with a kidney dietitian who can guide you on your diet. They may recommend a daily phosphorus intake between 800 and 1,200 milligrams, depending on your specific needs.

Limiting high protein foods in early stages of CKD can slow the progression. Many high-protein foods are also higher in phosphorus, which may help limit the amount of phosphorus that may start to build up in the body.1

What foods are low in phosphorus?

To help guide you in knowing which foods are low in phosphorus, here are seven lists of low-phosphorus food choices for a kidney diet.

1. Low-phosphorus meat and poultry choices

Fresh or frozen red meats are better choices for a kidney diet if you are on dialysis. Avoid packaged red meats that have breading, pre-made marinades or sauces, which could contain unwanted phosphorus additives. 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, cooked2:

Meat or Poultry Phosphorus Content
Beef, pot roast 155 mg
Beef, sirloin steak 195 mg
Chicken breast, skinless 190 mg
Chicken thigh, skinless 150 mg
Hamburger patty,
90 percent lean
170 mg
Lamb chop 185 mg
Pork chop 200 mg
Pork roast 190 mg
Turkey breast meat, skinless 185 mg
Turkey thigh meat, skinless 170 mg
Veal chop 200 mg

2. Low-phosphorus seafood choices 

Seafood is an excellent source of high-quality protein and healthy fats.3

Phosphorus content for a 3-ounce portion, cooked:

Seafood Phosphorus Content
Mahi Mahi 155 mg
Salmon, Atlantic
215 mg
Yellowfin tuna 210 mg
Sea bass 210 mg
Tuna, canned 130 mg
Rockfish 195 mg
King crab 192 mg
Lobster 160 mg
Oysters, Eastern 120 mg
Shrimp 120 mg
Snow crab 120 mg

3. Low-phosphorus bread choices

Bread is a good source of carbohydrates and calories needed for energy production. Although 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 unless stated otherwise2:

Bread Phosphorus Content
Bagel: cinnamon raisin,
blueberry, plain, onion
53-70 mg
Corn tortilla, 6-inch 75 mg
English muffin 52-76 mg
Flat bread 48 mg
Flour tortillas, made without baking powder 20-37 mg
French or Italian bread or rolls 28-29 mg
Light wheat bread 38 mg
Pita bread, white 58 mg
Sourdough bread 30 mg
White bread 25 mg

4. Low-phosphorus pasta and rice choices

Pasta, rice and other grains are excellent sources of carbohydrates, calories and B vitamins, plus zinc, copper and iron. Whole grains are part of a kidney- friendly diet, and provide fiber and other vitamins that contribute to a healthy diet.

Phosphorus content for a 1/2 cup portion, cooked2:

Pasta or Rice Phosphorus Content
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

5. Low-phosphorus dairy, dairy substitutes, and egg whites

Milk and milk products are high in calcium and phosphorus. 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. Read ingredient lists to look for phosphate additives, such as calcium-phosphate. Eggs are a great protein source but also contain 95 mg phosphorus in a large egg; consider this when planning meals. Whole eggs can still fit into a healthy diet. Remove the yolk and phosphorus is only 5 mg for each egg white.

Phosphorus content for a 1/2 cup portion, unless stated otherwise2:

Dairy, Dairy Substitutes and Egg Whites Phosphorus Content
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 50-125 mg
Unenriched rice milk
without calcium-phosphate
29 mg
Egg whites, pasteurized 15 mg

6. Low-phosphorus snacks

Looking for low-phosphorus, kidney-friendly snacks? Try these fruits, vegetables and more.2

Snack Food (Plus Serving Size) Phosphorus Content
Apple, 1 medium 10 mg
Applesauce, 1/2 cup 6 mg
Baby carrots, 9 pieces 25 mg
Blueberries, 1/2 cup 9 mg
Celery, 1 stalk 10 mg
Cherries, 1/2 cup 15 mg
Fig bar, 2 bars 10-25 mg
Fruit candies: hard,
chews or gummy
0 mg
Fruit cocktail, 1/2 cup 17 mg
Low-sodium crackers, 1 ounce 20-35 mg
Peach, 1 medium 10 mg
Pineapple, fresh, 1/2 cup 6 mg
Radishes, 1 9 mg
Strawberries, fresh, 1/2 cup 18 mg
Unsalted popcorn, 1 cup 8 mg
Unsalted pretzels, 1 ounce 20-40 mg

7. Lower phosphorus cheese choices

All cheese contains phosphorus ranging from 35-250 mg per ounce; some contain more than 300 mg per ounce. The suggested portion for a dialysis diet is usually one ounce of cheese, two to three times a week if phosphorus is controlled. Check with your dietitian for individual recommendations.

Low-phosphorus cheese choices2:

Cheese Phosphorus Content
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

Get help with a low-phosphorus diet from’s Diet & Nutrition section has free tools and resources to help you stick to a kidney-friendly diet. Search for tasty, low-phosphorus recipes and save your favorites. Here are a few to help you get started:

You can also use the Food Analyzer tool to look up nutrient information (such as potassium and phosphorus) for thousands of foods.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet, and health questions.

1 (accessed 4/8/2024)

2 Nutrient content according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) database


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