Looking Out for High Phosphorous Foods

Phosphorus is an important mineral. It works with calcium to help the body make strong bones and teeth. It also helps us grow, maintain, and repair cells. However, it’s possible to get too much phosphorus when your kidneys aren’t functioning properly. Normally, kidneys filter out excess phosphorus. For people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end stage renal disease (ESRD), this process isn’t as efficient, and can lead to excess phosphorus in the bloodstream. Too much phosphorus can weaken bones, increasing the risk of hip fractures and other broken bones. It can also lead to cardiovascular issues such as stiffening of the arteries and heart failure.

Managing your phosphorus and choosing a low-phosphorus diet may help slow the progression of kidney disease for those not yet on dialysis. One way to manage phosphorus is with a diet low in processed and convenience foods. Phosphorus levels are part of the routine bloodwork that is part of your kidney care. If your phosphorus levels come back too high, your care team will work with you to find a diet that minimizes high-phosphorus foods.


High phosphorus foods

Here is a list of foods high in phosphorus to help as you navigate grocery shopping, cooking, and eating out. While phosphorus is not usually listed on the nutrition facts label, it may be listed as an ingredient. Read the ingredients and look out for any beginning with “PHOS.” Phosphorus is often added as a preservative or to add flavor. Note that fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally low in phosphorus.

MEATS HIGH IN PHOSPHORUS

Pre-packaged or breaded meats and fish
Deli meats
Hot dogs
Processed meats

DAIRY PRODUCTS 
HIGH IN
PHOSPHORUS

Processed cheeses
Cheese sauces
Ice cream
Milk
Pudding
Frozen yogurt

GRAINS HIGH IN PHOSPHORUS

Biscuits
Muffins
Corn bread 
Pancakes
Waffles

FLUIDS HIGH IN PHOSPHORUS

Beer
Hot cocoa
Canned soup
Some carbonated beverages, flavored waters and teas
Milk
Milkshakes
Some protein shakes

MISCELLANEOUS FOODS HIGH IN PHOSPHORUS

Fast food
Hamburger helper mixes
Pizza
Snack cakes
Toaster pastries

Symptoms of high phosphorus

Many people with high phosphorus levels don’t experience symptoms. That’s why it’s important to keep up with routine bloodwork and to pay attention to your results. If your phosphorus levels are high, you can talk with your care team and your dietitian about the best way to manage it. This may include diet, phosphate binders, dialysis, or some combination of those things.

If symptoms do appear, they may include:

  • Bone and joint pain
  • Dry, itchy, or bumpy skin
  • Red eyes

COOK YOUR OWN KIDNEY-FRIENDLY MEALS

When you cook for yourself, you can take charge of your own phosphorus, sodium, and more. For more help crafting your own kidney-friendly diet, check out our recipes!
EXPLORE RECIPES

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