Phosphorus Foods

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Avoid Processed Foods and Pick Fresh Foods Instead

Calcium and phosphorus are important and needed by the body. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and helps to develop and maintain strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is the sixth most abundant mineral, and similar to calcium, it is found in our bones and teeth. The ideal amount of calcium to phosphorus is 1.5:1, although you need at least a 1:1 ratio. Both calcium and phosphorus help grow strong bones and teeth, but our bodies are more efficient at absorbing phosphorus than calcium, and, so, today, it is much more common to have a calcium deficiency than a phosphorus deficiency.

When people are deficient in calcium, it can result in cardiovascular diseases, anxiety, brittle nails, irritability, confusion, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, tetany, tooth loss, toxemia, and numerous bone diseases, including osteoporosis and osteomalacia. Likewise, health problems can result from too little phosphorus, although it is very rare because phosphorus is so readily available in today’s diets. Certain antacids can block phosphorus absorption, as can aluminum, magnesium, iron, or too much calcium. Alcoholics or people who suffer from kidney or liver disorders can also have problems absorbing phosphorus. When a person is deficient symptoms may include anemia, anxiety, arthritis, bone fragility, bone pain, irritability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, numbness, skin diseases, and tremors. 

Dairy foods usually have equal ratios of calcium and phosphorus, but items such as soft drinks have added phosphorus, no calcium, and no nutrition. Protein foods also contain higher levels of phosphorus, as do most processed foods, but it’s often not listed on the label. Unprocessed foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, have the lowest phosphorus amounts, so if you’re trying to make sure you consume a calcium-rich diet, chow down on those. To help you further, the following chart provides phosphorus sources and their content.

Phosphorus Content of Some Foods
Food Source Serving Size Phosphorus
Content (mg)
Cornmeal, Self-rising 1 cup 860
Sweetened Condensed Milk 1 cup 774
Wheat flour, All Purpose, Self-rising 1 cup 744
Oat bran, Raw 1 cup 690
Cheese Sauces 1 cup 556
Canned Milk, Evaporated 1 cup 512
Fast Food, Pancakes 2 pancakes 476
Leavening Agents, Baking powder 1 teaspoon 456
Halibut 1/2 fillet 453
Ricotta Cheese, Skim Milk 1 cup 450
Duck, Roasted 1/2 duck 449
Barley, Pearled, Raw 1 cup 442
Clam Chowder, New England,
Prepared w/2% Low-fat Milk
1 cup 432
Salmon 1/2 fillet 428
Soybeans 1 cup 421
Bulgur, Dry 1 cup 420
Chicken Giblets 1 cup 419
Sardines 3 ounces 417
Wheat Flour, Whole-grain 1 cup 415
Beef Liver 3 ounces 412
Fish, Pollock and Walleye 3 ounces 410
Buckwheat Flour, Whole-groat 1 cup 404
Ricotta Cheese, Skim Milk 1 cup 389
Chocolate Milkshake 10.6 fluid ounces 378
Sunflower Seeds, Dry Roasted w/Salt 1/4 cup 370
Cottage Cheese, 2% Low-fat Milk 1 cup 368
Fish, Flatfish, such as Flounder and Sole 1 fillet 367
Tuna Fish Salad 1 cup 365
Haddock 1 fillet 362
Vanilla Milkshake 11.0 fluid ounces 360
Swordfish 1 piece 357
Lentils, Boiled w/o Salt 1 cup 356
Yogurt, Plain, Skim Milk 8 ounces 356
Crab, canned 1 cup 351
Puddings, Prepared w/2% Low-fat Milk 1/2 cup 350
Cereals, Ready-to-Eat, Kellogg’s All-Bran 1/2 cup 345
Leavening Agents, Baking Powder 1 teaspoon 343
Couscous, Dry 1 cup 294
Beans: Great Northern, Chick peas, Lima Beans,
Kidney Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Split Peas
1 cup 292
Rice, Long Grain, Enriched, Cooked 1 cup 289
Clams, Drained, Canned 3 ounces 287
Pork and Beans 1 cup 266
Macaroni and Cheese, Mix 1 cup 265
Pizza 1 slice 259
Nuts 2 ounces 247
Squid, Fried 3 ounces 213
Peanut Butter 3 Tablespoons 172
Rice, Brown, Long-grain, Cooked 1 cup 162
Cream Soups 1 cup 151
Oysters, Pacific, Raw 1 medium 81
Soft Drinks 12 ounces 37

 

Foods low in phosphorus include black tea, grapes, garlic, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, watermelon, blackberries, onions, squash, bananas, cherries, kale, orange sherbet, cabbage, beets, avocados, pears, cauliflower, apricots, plums, butter, olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil, olives, radishes, most fish, sour cream, celery, shiitake mushrooms, peaches, horseradish, spices, green peppers, white bread, rye bread, tangerines, apples, strawberries, chicken, popcorn, fresh green beans, cranberry juice, pasta, crackers, pineapple, and lettuce.

 

If you want more information about phosphorus content in foods, visit the USDA site.

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