Why are plant-based foods high in phosphorus good for the body?

Plant-based foods high in phosphorus are good for you

What foods high in phosphorus are good for you? What foods high in phosphorus you should avoid?

Why is phosphorus good for your body?

Phosphorus is important for the human body. It’s present in bones and teeth. Moreover, phosphorus is a key component of DNA, RNA, and cell membrane structure (1).

Also, it’s essential for the energy production on the body, as phosphorus is an important component of ATP. ATP is the body’s key energy source. The main components of ATP are carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus.

In addition, phosphorus is good for many functions of the human body, such as activation of enzymes, maintenance of normal pH, and energy storage.

Moreover, the phosphorus content in the human body is up to 1.4% of fat-free mass. Bones and teeth are the main storage of phosphorus. They contain about the 85% of body phosphorus.

Most noteworthy, phosphorus and calcium are the 2 key minerals for healthy and strong bones and teeth. Moreover, vitamin D is good for your bones and teeth (1).

So, consume foods rich in calcium for healthy teeth and bones. Cow’s milk and dairy isn’t the only option, though. There are many plant-based sources of calcium, as well.

Don’t forget vitamin D… Vitamin D is so important for good health. But…it can be a little tricky to consume the daily recommended intake. More here.

How much phosphorus do we need daily?

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements we need about 700 mg of phosphorus per day (1).

You can easily consume this amount following a plant-based diet.

Moreover, teenagers need much more phosphorus per day. Kids between 9-18 need about 1250 mg daily.

Finally, elderly people don’t have particularly high phosphorus needs. They also need about 700 mg per day.

Who is at risk for phosphorus deficiency?

Phosphorus deficiency is pretty rare in developed countries. Mostly, because there are so many foods high in phosphorus.

People with severe health problems or genetic disorders may deal with phosphorus deficiency.

What are the effects of phosphorus deficiency?

Some effects of phosphorus deficiency are:

  • anorexia,
  • anemia,
  • muscle weakness,
  • bone pain,
  • increased infection risk,
  • confusion.

What foods contain phosphorus?

It’s known that dairy, meat, fish, and eggs are good sources of phosphorus.

For instance, dried salmon (816 mg), egg yolk (390 mg), beef (230 mg), whole egg (198 mg), chicken (160 mg), mozzarella cheese (548 mg), Greek yogurt (137 mg), and milk (84 mg) are all high in phosphorus.

Furthermore, phosphorus from animal sources is more absorbable than from plant sources.

So, do we have to eat animal products, in order, to meet our daily phosphorus needs? Of course not… We need only about 700 mg of phosphorus daily.

We can easily consume the daily phosphorus needs, following a plant-based diet. Nuts, legumes, vegetables, and grains are all good sources…

List of vegan foods high in phosphorus

There are countless plant-based foods high in phosphorus. Seeds, nuts, spices, and legumes are the best sources, though.

According to the USDA, the amount of phosphorus per 100 gr, among common foods is (2):

  • seeds: hemp seeds (1650 mg), pumpkin seeds (1233 mg), chia seeds (642 mg), flaxseeds (642 mg), sesame seeds (629 mg), sunflower seeds (629 mg).
  • nuts: Brazil nuts (725 mg), pine nuts (575 mg), cashew nuts (490 mg), pistachio nuts (490 mg), almonds (457 mg), walnuts (346 mg), pecans (277 mg), macadamia nuts (188 mg).
  • spices: poppy seeds (870 mg), mustard seeds (828 mg), cumin seeds (499 mg), coriander seeds (409 mg), celery seeds (547 mg), fennel seeds (487 mg), cayenne pepper (293 mg), dill seeds (277 mg), dried oregano (148 mg).
  • legumes: soybeans (704 mg), lupins (440 mg), navy beans (407 mg), kidney beans (406 mg), adzuki beans (381 mg), black beans (352 mg), lima beans (370 mg), lentils (281 mg), green peas (108 mg), white beans (91 mg).
  • whole grains: whole oats (410 mg), whole grain wheat flour (323 mg), whole grain corn flour (210 mg), brown rice (102 mg).
  • vegetables: sun-dried tomatoes (356 mg), broccoli (66 mg), parsley (58 mg), kale (55 mg), asparagus (52 mg), potatoes (48 mg), cauliflower (44 mg), beetroots & beet greens (40 mg), peppers (32 mg), sweet potatoes (31).
  • fruits: raisins (75 mg), avocado (52 mg), carrots (35 mg), kiwi (34 mg), apples (33 mg), bananas (22 mg), clementines (21 mg), lemons (16 mg), oranges (14 mg).

Certainly, we don’t absorb all the phosphorus of seeds and nuts. Phosphorus in seeds and nuts is in the form of phytic acid. That’s the storage form of phosphorus. As we lack the phytase enzyme, much phosphorus in this form is unavailable for absorption.

In any case, as many foods are rich in phosphorus, a whole food plant-based diet can provide much more phosphorus than we need. Remember… our actually needs pf phosphorus are only about 700 mg per day.

Finally, all vegetable oils lack of phosphorus. For instance, flaxseeds oil has no phosphorus at all. Despite, the fact that flaxseeds are especially high in phosphorus. On the other hand, consider using flaxseed oil and olive oil. Even though they don’t contain any phosphorus. Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3s. Moreover, olive oil is rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants.

Is Phosphorus bad for your kidneys?

People with chronic kidney disease should be careful with the daily phosphorus intake.

As kidney doesn’t work efficiently, higher phosphorus intake may be a problem. The kidney can’t remove excess phosphorus. Therefore, blood phosphate concentration rises.

But, can too much phosphorus be bad for you? Actually, yes!

Too much phosphorus in the blood has linked to bone disorder or even higher risk of dying early. Calcium and vitamin D aren’t metabolized effectively, as well.

So, it seems a good idea to consume fewer foods high in phosphorus.

Firstly, limit the consumption of animal foods. Phosphorus from plant-based sources is less bioavailable than animal foods. So, if you have kidney problems, animal foods high in phosphorus may be a problem.

Another good practice for people with high phosphorus levels is to consume more foods high in calcium. Avoid cow’s milk or dairy. They actually may be bad for you (3). Prefer plant-based sources.

How much phosphorus does a kidney patient need daily?

There are studies which showed that even 1000 mg of phosphorus per day may be bad for you. High phosphorus intake may cause cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, weak bones, or even higher risk of dying early.

The Office of Dietary Supplements suggest limiting the daily upper phosphorus intake to 3000-4000 mg.

In any case, consult your physician. Especially if you’re under medication.

Is Phosphorus bad for your heart?

There are studies that have linked high serum phosphorus with cardiovascular disease.

In a study published to the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers followed more than 14,000 people for 20 years. They found that each 1 mg/dL increase in blood phosphate was associated with a 13% higher risk of atrial fibrillation (4).

Seems like we need phosphorus, but too much phosphorus may be bad for you. Maybe the high absorbable ratio of phosphorus from animal products isn’t good, after all.

What foods to avoid if phosphorus is high?

It’s better to avoid cow’s milk altogether. It isn’t good for you. On the contrary, cow’s milk and dairy are high in saturated fat and cholesterol (5).

Furthermore, avoid eggs and other animal products.

Finally, limit your intake of seeds and nuts. They are the highest plant-based sources of phosphorus. For instance, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and Brazil nuts are plant-based foods especially high in phosphorus.

Above all, consult your physician before drastically changing your diet option.