We often associate bone and dental health to nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. And while calcium and vitamin D do play important roles in building strong bones and teeth, we might be forgetting about another crucial player: phosphorus.
Most of the body's phosphorus is found in the bones and teeth, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Not only does phosphorus help with the formation of bones and teeth, but the mineral also helps the body make energy, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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How Much Phosphorus Do You Need?
Adults need 700 milligrams of phosphorus per day, according to the NIH. Children and teenagers need 1,250 milligrams per day because their bones and teeth are still growing.
Most people in the U.S. get enough phosphorus through their diets. People with kidney disease should talk to their doctor about whether they need to limit their phosphorous intake because their kidneys aren't able to remove phosphorus from their blood very well.
Symptoms of high phosphorus levels include heart, kidney and bone issues.
Below is a list of foods high in phosphorus that come from both animal and plant sources. Note that the FDA's Daily Value (DV) percentages are based on eating 1,250 grams of phosphorus per day.
1. Seafood: 87%–28% DV
Seafood is a great source of protein that provides key nutrients, including phosphorus, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, a type of healthy fat important for brain health. Here are the top seafood high in phosphorus per 6-ounce cooked serving:
The American Heart Association recommends adults get two 3.5-ounce servings of fish a week (that's around 7 ounces total).
2. Pork: 515.1 mg, 41% DV
Like all meats, different cuts of pork deliver different nutrition. Lean pork chops, for example, tend to be lower in saturated fat than ribs.
Diets high in saturated fat — specifically from red meat and processed meats — are linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.
3. Soy: 38%–21% DV
Soy is a great vegan food high in phosphorus as well as a solid source of plant-based protein, calcium, fiber and iron. Adding more plant-based foods to all diets is a great way to get nutrients from a variety of food sources and cut your intake of red meat.
Here are the top soy foods rich in phosphorus, per 1 cup:
The phosphorus found in plant foods is less absorbed by the body than phosphorus in animal foods. That's because a high proportion of phosphorous is tied up in phytates, which are compounds that we can't easily digest, per an April 2014 report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
4. Chicken Breast: 409.7 mg, 33% DV
Chicken breast can be cooked six ways from Sunday, making it a favorite for lean protein, iron and vitamin B12. A 6-ounce cooked serving contains 33 percent of the DV for phosphorus.
The white meat, like the breast, has less saturated fat than the dark meat from the thighs and wings. However, dark meat tends to be more flavorful. Try one (or all!) of these low-calorie chicken dishes.
5. Turkey Breast: 391 mg, 31% DV
If you're tired of chicken, turkey provides nearly identical nutrition — but it's slightly higher in iron and a bit lower in protein. Per 6-ounce cooked serving, turkey has 31 percent of the DV for phosphorus.
Like chicken, the white meat turkey is lower in saturated fat than its dark meat. There's no shortage of leftover turkey recipes, especially after Thanksgiving: Try these six tasty turkey recipes for any time of year.
6. Lentils: 356.4 mg, 29% DV
When it comes to touting a variety of good-for-you nutrients, lentils nearly always make the list. The legume is another vegan food high in phosphorus with 29 percent of the DV per 1-cup cooked. Lentils are also a good source of plant-based protein and iron.
Lentils come in a range of colors thanks to their antioxidants, which are tied to helping protect against diseases, including cancer and heart disease, according to an April 2017 review in the Journal of Applied Biotechnology and Bioengineering.
Try them in these lentil recipes with more protein than chicken.
Recent research suggests that saturated fat in dairy might not be as bad as we once thought. Certain fats found in dairy are actually linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a September 2018 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Here are the top dairy foods with phosphorus:
8. Pumpkin Seeds: 350.2 mg, 28% DV
Small but mighty, pumpkin seeds pack 28 percent of the DV for phosphorus, 14 percent of the DV for iron and 17 percent of the DV for protein per 1-ounce serving.
Seeds are also a good source of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, making them a filling snack.
9. Chickpeas: 275.5 mg, 22% DV
Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo beans, are a popular vegetarian food high in phosphorus and potassium. One cooked cup has 22 percent of the phosphorus DV, nearly 15 grams of plant-based protein and 13 grams of fiber.
Try these protein-rich chickpea recipes for a quick and tasty meal.
10. Quinoa: 281.2 mg, 22% DV
11. Oatmeal: 180.2 mg, 14% DV
Just 1 cooked cup has 14 percent of the DV for phosphorus, as well as good amounts of fiber, protein and iron.
12. Processed Foods With Added Phosphorus
While the foods above are naturally high in phosphorus, many processed foods have the mineral added to them in the form of phosphates. Some processed foods with phosphates include:
- Fast food
- Processed deli meats
- Frozen meals
- Baked goods
Read packaged foods' ingredient lists and look out for anything with the words "phosphate" or "phosphoric" — some examples include dicalcium phosphate and phosphoric acid.
Make sure to read food labels to see what else you're getting from processed foods, such as too much added sugar, sodium and saturated fats.
Check out the foods high in phosphorus chart below for the top 10 picks.
The Top 10 Foods High in Phosphorus
6 oz. cooked
520.2 mg, 42% DV
Lean Pork Chops
6 oz. cooked
515.1 mg, 41% DV
478.8 mg, 38% DV
441.6 mg, 35% DV
6 oz. cooked
435.2 mg, 35% DV
6 oz. cooked
409.7 mg, 33% DV
6 oz. cooked
391 mg, 31% DV
1 cup cooked
356.4 mg, 29% DV
352.8 mg, 28% DV
350.2 mg, 28% DV
Foods Low in Phosphorus
Basically, all fruits and vegetables are low in phosphorus (including bananas). Other foods low in the mineral include, per the USDA:
- Cottage cheese
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Phosphorous in Diet"
- National Institutes of Health: "Phosphorous"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Daily Value on the New Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels"
- World Cancer Research Fund: "Limit Red and Processed Meat"
- Sustainable Fisheries: "Seafood Consumption Statistics in the U.S. (pre-pandemic)"
- American Heart Association: "Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids"
- Journal of Applied Biotechnology and Bioengineering: "Role of Antioxidants in Prevention of Diseases"
- 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Serial Measures of Circulating Biomarkers of Dairy Fat and Total and Cause-specific Mortality in Older Adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study"
- National Institutes of Health: "Selenium"
- Circulation Research: "Abstract 138: The Use of β-1.3/1.6-D-Glucan as Complementary Therapy for Cardiovascular Diseases"