Top Low-Phosphorus Food Choices 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.

Phosphorus, a mineral, may be in many foods you consume. Research shows that even in early kidney disease, limiting phosphorus makes a difference in kidney disease progression, mineral and bone disorders and cardiovascular health. When you have kidney disease, it's important to keep levels under control and stay within a daily intake of 800 and 1,200 mg. Work with a renal dietitian to help you manage your phosphorus intake based on your needs.

To help guide you in knowing which foods are low in phosphorus, here are 7 lists of low-phosphorus food choices for a kidney diet.

1. Low-phosphorus meat and poultry choices

Fresh or frozen red meats without breading, marinades or sauce are better choices for a kidney diet. 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:

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 low-fat, high-quality protein.

Phosphorus content for a 3-ounce portion, cooked:

Seafood Phosphorus Content
Mahi Mahi 155 mg
Salmon, Atlantic
farmed
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 otherwise:

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. For a kidney diet, whole grains such as brown rice, oat bran and wild rice are limited due to the higher phosphorus content.

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

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. Remove the yolk and phosphorus is only 5 mg for each egg white.

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

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

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 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, one to two times a week if phosphorus is controlled. Check with your dietitian for individual recommendations.

Low-phosphorus cheese choices:

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

Managing a low-phosphorus diet

To help you manage your phosphorus levels, make proper food choices. If you need extra help, sign up for the DaVita Diet Helper™, the online tool for people managing a kidney diet.

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