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Foods High in Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a mineral that has many uses in the body. It is part of the bones, teeth, cells, and DNA. Phosphorus also helps move energy from one cell to another. The body needs a certain amount of phosphorus in the diet to function properly.

Your child’s medical team may ask you to increase or decrease foods high in phosphorus in your child’s diet. The best sources of phosphorus are meats, fish, beans, dairy products, and nuts. Phosphorus is sometimes added to food. Ready-to-eat foods, fast foods, canned foods, and pre-packaged foods all have phosphorus-based food additives.

The following are lists of high and low phosphorus foods. This can help you make good food choices for your child.

Foods with high amounts of phosphorus

  • All meat products, fish, and seafood
  • Processed meat, such as lunch meat, hot dogs, and sausage
  • Eggs
  • All dairy products. This includes whole, 2%, skim, and oat milk
  • Nuts, nut butters, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds
  • Whole grain bread, amaranth, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, corn tortillas
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Soy, tofu, soy products
  • Dark-colored soda
  • Baked goods, chocolate
  • Ready to eat and pre-packaged foods, such as snack foods, frozen foods, and pre-cooked foods

Foods with low amounts of phosphorus

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Egg whites
  • Corn or rice cereal
  • White bread, sourdough bread, French or Italian bread, unsalted pretzels, and popcorn (not including pre-popped and packaged popcorn)
  • Non-dairy products, including non-dairy creamer, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and almond milk
  • Cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan cheese (up to 2 tablespoons)
  • Sherbet, sorbet, frozen fruit pops, jellybeans, hard candy
  • Coffee, tea made fresh from teabags, light-colored soda (ginger ale and lemon-lime soda), fruit juices

Tips to reduce phosphorus in your child’s diet

  • Avoid foods cooked with extra butter, cheese, or cream sauces.
  • Choose fresh food over fast food and pre-prepared packaged foods.
  • Eat smaller portions of protein-rich foods. Limit meat, poultry, and fish to 2 ounces. Limit dairy and beans to a half cup.

Read more about clinical nutrition.

Key Points

  • The body needs phosphorus for healthy function.
  • Phosphorus is found in meats, dairy, beans, and nuts. And it is found as a food additive in ready-to-eat and pre-packaged convenience foods.
  • Diet changes can increase or decrease phosphorus levels in the body.

Reviewed: September 2022