What Is Phosphorous?

Phosphorous is a mineral found in food and in our bones. It has many roles, such as helping to build strong and healthy bones.

Why Should I Follow This Diet?

People with kidney problems may need to eat this way. The kidneys help to filter phosphorous out of the blood. Phosphorous levels can build up in your blood when the kidneys are not able to filter it. This makes your body lower these levels by taking calcium from your bones. This makes your bones weak and put you at higher risk for fractures and osteoporosis. High levels of phosphorous in the blood may lead to heart problems.

Food Choices

Phosphorous is found in protein-rich foods, such as dairy products, meat, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, chocolate, and cola.

Food Group Foods You Should Eat Foods You Should Not Eat
Grains
  • Refined grains
  • Breads, rolls, muffins, and crackers made from white (or refined) flour
  • Pasta
  • White rice
  • Couscous
  • Refined cereal (rice cereal, corn cereal)
  • Cream of wheat
  • Grits
  • Breads, rolls, and crackers made with whole grains (like whole wheat, oats, rye)
  • Breads, rolls, and crackers that have seeds
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Brown rice, wild rice
  • Whole wheat couscous
  • Whole grain cereal, bran cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Biscuits, quick breads, and pancakes or waffles made with baking powder
Vegetables

All

Dried, split, and black-eyed peas

Fruits

All

None

Milk
  • Butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Rice milk
  • Sour cream

Most, such as:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Hard cheeses (like Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey Jack) and ricotta
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt
  • Cream-based soups
Meats and Beans
  • All natural meats and poultry
  • Fresh or frozen beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, and shellfish
  • Eggs and egg substitutes
  • Low-sodium peanut butter
  • Dried peas and beans
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Dried beans and peas (like baked beans, chickpeas, black beans, lima beans, northern beans, split peas, and soy beans)
  • Seeds and nuts
  • Carp
  • Crayfish
  • Beef liver
  • Chicken liver
  • Fish roe
  • Organ meats
  • Oysters
  • Sardines
  • Processed meats, such as bologna, ham, and hot dogs
Fats and Oils

All

Peanut butter, nut butters

Snacks, Sweets, and Condiments
  • Fruit-flavored hard candy
  • Fruit-flavored jelly beans
  • Sherbet
  • Chocolate
  • Pudding
  • Custard
  • Caramel
Drinks

Most drinks

  • Colas
  • Chocolate milk
  • Hot cocoa
  • Drinks made with milk
  • Canned iced tea
  • Ale and beer
Other Non-dairy creamer
  • Baking powder
  • Brewer’s yeast

Tips

  • Use nondairy creamers in place of milk in your coffee, tea, sauces, and cereal.
  • Read food labels. Look for products with 5% or less of the Daily Value (DV) for phosphorous.
  • Many products have thickeners with phosphorus to make things taste better. Try not to eat them.
  • Work with a dietitian to make a meal plan.
  • You may need to take a phosphate-binder medicine. It will soak up extra phosphorous so that it passes out in your stool.
RESOURCES:

Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
http://www.eatright.org

US Department of Health and Human Services
https://health.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

The Kidney Foundation of Canada
http://www.kidney.ca

REFERENCES:

Patient education: dietary and fluid compliance for patients on hemodialysis. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated January 4, 2019. Accessed June 17, 2019.

Phosphorus and your CKD diet. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/phosphorus. Updated April 18, 2019. Accessed June 17, 2019.

The renal diet—phosphorus. UNC Health Care website. Available at: https://unckidneycenter.org/files/2017/10/renaldiet_phosphorus.pdf. Accessed June 17, 2019.

Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN  Last Updated: 8/4/2020