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Low Phosphorus Cheese

While many kinds of cheese are high in phosphorus and sodium, there are lower phosphorus and sodium cheeses more suitable for people with kidney disease. Most cheeses are also high in saturated fat; but lower-fat versions of many cheeses are available. Cheese comes in many different flavors—mild to sharp, nutty to pungent—as well as different textures from creamy to dry and hard. 

Why are low phosphorus cheeses superfoods?

  • Cheese is a good source of calcium, protein, vitamin B12, and vitamin A, and phosphorus. 
  • Some cheeses may contain probiotics or “good” bacteria to improve digestive health, including Swiss, Gouda, Gruyere, cheddar, and cottage cheese. 
  • Cheese can be eaten alone for a delicious treat, prepared as a dip, or enhance the flavor of your favorite dish. 

Low phosphorus cheese and kidney disease

The amount and type of cheese you can have will depend on your stage of kidney disease or the type of dialysis you receive. If you need to limit phosphorus, look for ingredients on the label that contain “phos”—this means additional phosphorus ingredients have been added, usually in processed cheese sauce, canned spray cheese and pasteurized cheese products, and processed American cheese. Find a kidney dietitian near you.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) and transplant

Recommended sodium intake for CKD is 2300 mg per day, so use caution and choose low-sodium cheese options. Phosphorus does not need to be limited unless laboratory results show high phosphorus levels; your kidney dietitian will let you know if you need to limit phosphorus.  People limiting their protein intake need to consider the protein content of cheese.

For kidney transplant, it is recommended to avoid all unpasteurized dairy products for the life of the transplant (note: most cheese sold in grocery stores are pasteurized). Patients who receive transplants are on immunosuppressive medications which makes the body more susceptible to foodborne illnesses.

Hemodialysis (3 times/week)

Choose low-sodium options for fluid and blood pressure control. If you need to limit phosphorus, choose from the lower-phosphorus list on the next page and avoid cheeses with phosphorus additives. Talk to your kidney dietitian about how much and which cheeses are appropriate.

Daily home and nocturnal hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis

Daily home and nocturnal hemodialysis remove more phosphorus and fluid from the body, so more cheese may be allowed in the diet. Patients receiving peritoneal dialysis still need to limit phosphorus. Talk to your kidney dietitian about how you can fit cheese into your kidney diet plan.

Kidney stones

For calcium oxalate stones, eating calcium with meals can help prevent stone formation. With cysteine stones or uric acid stones, limited protein from animal sources is recommended. Talk to your doctor and kidney dietitian about the type of kidney stones you have and how you can include cheese in your diet. 

What cheese are kidney-friendly?

Cheese Serving size Phosphorus Sodium Potassium Protein
Cream cheese 1 oz=2 Tbsp 32 mg 96 mg 37 mg 1.8 g
Ricotta cheese ¼ cup 49 mg 26 mg 136 mg 3.5 g
Goat cheese (soft) 1 oz 72 mg 103 mg 7 mg 5.2 g
Monterey jack cheese 1 oz 124 mg 150 mg 25 mg 6.9 g
Muenster cheese 1 oz 130mg 174 mg 38 mg 6.6 g
Parmesan cheese, grated ½ oz, 1 Tbsp 40 mg 93 mg 5 mg 1.9 g
Mozzarella cheese 1 oz 105 mg 106 mg 22 mg 6.2 g
Brie cheese 1 oz 53 mg 176 mg 43 mg 5.8 g
Swiss cheese 1 oz 159 mg 54 mg 31 mg 7.5 g
Low-sodium cheddar or Colby cheese 1 oz 136 mg 6 mg 32 mg 6.7 g

Recipe–Macaroni and cheese

Serving size: 4 servings per recipe


  • 1 cup uncooked noodles, any shape
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon dry ground mustard


  1. Boil water, add noodles, and cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender.
  2. Drain.
  3. While still very hot, sprinkle noodles with cheese then stir in butter and ground mustard.


Nutritional information

Carbohydrates...18 g
Dietary fiber...6 g
Protein...7 g
Sodium...90 mg
Potassium...52 mg
Phosphorus...107 mg

Source: Northwest Kidney Centers

For more information, contact the National Kidney Foundation

Toll-free helpline: 855.NKF.CARES or email:

Want to save this information for later?

Download the National Kidney Foundation’s Fact Sheet: Kidney-Friendly Superfoods: Low Phosphorus Cheese

This content is provided for informational use only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for the medical advice of a healthcare professional.

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