What is phosphorus?

Phosphorus is a mineral that works with calcium to strengthen bones. When the kidneys do not work well, phosphorus rises in the blood, and calcium is pulled from the bones. This causes your bones to become weak and could harden the blood vessels to the lungs, eyes, and heart.

How can phosphorus levels in the blood be controlled?

Phosphorus buildup can be controlled by cutting down on foods rich in phosphorus. Protein-rich foods tend to have large amounts of phosphorus, but some intake is needed to maintain good health and strong muscles. All foods that come from animals, such as meat and milk, and other non-meat foods, such

as dried beans and seeds, are high in phosphorus. It is important to keep consistent and eat the same amount of protein-rich foods daily. Plans for vegetarians or other special diets should be discussed with a Registered Dietitian.

If your blood phosphorus cannot be controlled by diet alone, you may need to take a phosphorus binder (Renagel®, Renvela®, PhosLo®, or Fosrenol®). These medications must be taken with meals and snacks as prescribed. If you take a calcium supplement, do not take it with the phosphorus binder.

Normal phosphorus range: 2.5 - 4.5 mg/dL

The following list of foods is a guideline. Many prepared foods (frozen, boxed, canned) may have phosphorus added as a preservative or additive. Also, baking mixes and baked goods often contain phosphorus as an anti-caking agent.

Be sure to read the ingredient list for any ingredients containing the word “phos.” If you have questions about specific foods, please ask your dietitian.

Food Group Choose these Instead of these
Fruits and vegetables Serving size is ½ cup unless otherwise indicated
5 - 6 servings per day
  • Almost all fruits and fruit juices
  • Green beans.
  • Green peas
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mixed vegetables that don't contain vegetables in the opposite column
  • Okra
  • Cabbage
  • Tomato (raw)
  • Canned beets
1 - 2 servings per week
  • Artichokes
  • Chickpeas
  • Split peas
  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Soybeans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Canned dried beans
  • Avocados
  • Turnip greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Seeds (i.e., sesame, sunflower pumpkin)
  • Baked potato (small - 85g)
Milk and milk products
Serving size is ½ cup unless otherwise indicated
Up to 4 servings per day
  • Rice milk-not fortified or enriched with phosphorus (¼ cup)
  • Non-dairy creamer (¼ cup)
  • Cream cheese (28g or 2tbsp or 1oz)
Limit to 2 servings per day
  • Milk
  • Soy milk
  • Cheese (28g or 2oz slice).
  • Ice cream.
  • Milkshakes
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Pudding
  • Cream soups
  • Cottage cheese
Meat and other protein _________grams per day
  • Whole eggs (2).
  • Fresh meats (85g or 3 oz.)
    1. Fish
    2. Beef
    3. Chicken or Lamb
    4. Turkey
    5. Shrimp and oysters
1 serving per week
  • Hot dogs (1)
  • Sardines (28g or 1oz.)
  • Organ meats (i.e., beef/ chicken liver, gizzards)  (56g or 2oz)
  • Luncheon meats (56g or 2oz) 
  • Peanut butter (45g or 3oz) 
  • Unsalted nuts (¼ cup)
  • Baked beans (½ cup)
  • Tofu, tempeh, miso
  • Veggie or soy patties
  • Canned tuna (85g or 3oz)
Breads and other grains 6 or more servings per day
  • Grits
  • White rice
  • Spaghetti or macaroni
  • Saltine crackers (6 each)
  • Muffins (1 small)
  • Bagel (½)
  • White bread/rolls
  • Pumpernickel or rye bread
  • Corn- and rice-based cold cereals (1 cup)
  • English muffins (½)
  • Homemade pancakes/waffles (without milk) (7.5 - 10cm or 3-4 inch size)
1 - 2 servings per week or avoid
  • Bran cereals
  • Whole wheat cereals
  • Oatmeal.
  • Granola (¼ cup)
  • Trail mix
  • Wheat germ (30g or 2tbsp)
  • Whole grain bread (1)
  • Cornbread (5 x 5cm or 2 x 2 inch size ).
  • Pancake made from a mix, frozen or fast food (2.45-15.24 cm or 1-6 inch size)
  • Waffles (frozen) (2.45 - 15.24cm or 1 - 6 inch size)
  • Biscuits
Other Foods Follow food labels for serving size unless otherwise indicated In moderation
  • Pound cake (1/10 of cake)
  • Angel food cake
  • Marshmallows
  • Sugar cookies (2 small)
  • Sugar wafers
  • Sour balls
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Graham crackers
  • Popsicles
  • Jellybeans
  • Gumdrops
  • Rock candy
  • Ginger ale
  • Grape soda
  • Orange soda
  • Cranberry juice
  • Clear sodas
  • Lemonade
  • Fruit punch
  • Sorbet, sherbet
  • Italian ice
  • Gelatin
  • Popcorn
  • Unsalted pretzels
1 serving per week or avoid
  • Chocolate (1 small)
  • Molasses (½ cup)
  • Cocoa (1 envelope)
  • Brown sugar
  • Coconut (1 cup shredded)

Have a Question?

Visit our FAQs page for answers to common queries.

Get in Touch

Visit our Contact Us page to get in touch.

Find a Doctor

Search for specialized doctors at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.