Phosphorus is an essential mineral that can play various roles in the body. However, many of us don’t even know this! Try adding some of the foods high in phosphorus to your diet today!

For instance, the body needs it to make protein, which supports the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues, to build and maintain strong bones and teeth, support the formation of DNA and RNA (the genetic material in the cells), and to regulate how the body uses carbohydrates and fats. However, phosphorus is often linked to animal foods like dairy, making you wonder whether there are any plant-based foods high in phosphorus.

See also Vegetables Containing Folic Acid and 8 Incredible Benefits of Beta Glucan and Best Sources.

Well, phosphorus is almost in all plant-based foods, with some offering more than others.

This article takes you through the best plant-based phosphorus sources, including their health benefits and how to add them to the diet.

What is Phosphorus?

Phosphorus is a mineral that occurs naturally in the body and makes up 1% of your total body weight.

It’s also the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium.

Phosphorus is usually absorbed in the small intestines and stored in the bones, where it helps maintain strong and healthy bones. Actually, 85 percent of the phosphorus in the body is stored in bones and teeth.

Besides dietary sources, phosphorus is also available as a supplement, but in normal circumstances, food sources are usually enough to meet your needs.

While this mineral is essential for every human cell, people with kidney disease may have difficulty getting rid of extra phosphorus from the body. They thus need to limit their intake.

How Much Phosphorus Do You Need?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adults (19 years and older) should consume 700 milligrams of phosphorus, while pregnant mothers and growing teens (9 yers-18 years) need up to 1250 milligrams per day.

The latter needs more because the teen’s bones are still growing, while the mother needs extra nourishment for the growing baby.

Why Do You Need Phosphorus?

  • To form and maintain strong bones and teeth.
  • It helps form the membranes of your cells.
  • Promotes healthy brain function.
  • It helps maintain normal acid-balance.
  • Maintains energy levels.
  • Promotes oxygen delivery to the body.
  • Eliminates muscle weakness and fatigue.
  • Promotes kidney health.
  • Forms the genetic material DNA and RNA.
  • Important for maintaining teeth and gum health.

Plant-based foods high in phosphorus: Seeds

1. Sesame seeds

An ounce of these seeds can provide up to 18 percent of the phosphorus you need daily. They are also rich in healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, and several essential minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese.

Adding a substantial amount to your diet regularly can help:

  • combat arthritis pain.
  •  lower cholesterol.
  • improve bone health.
  • protect from radiation.
  • Maintain a healthy heart.
  • Prevent cancer.
  • Control blood sugar levels in diabetes.

Sesame seeds can be eaten raw, roasted, or toasted, which also brings out their natural oils and flavors and improves texture. Whether you toast yours or not, top them on salads, bagels, burger burns, or ground them to make a paste, also known as tahini.

2. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are the seeds of the sunflower. They are high in protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants that can fight free radical damage and prevent chronic diseases.

They are also an excellent source of Vitamin B1 and B6, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and phosphorus.

In fact, they are one of the highest sources of phosphorus, with a cup of hulled and roasted sunflower seeds offering more than 100% (148%) of your daily needs.

You can enjoy these deeds raw or roasted. Simply sprinkle on salads, add to trail mixes, make sunflower butter, mix to baked goods, add to your smoothies recipes, or stir into oatmeal.

Plant foods high in phosphorus: Legumes

3. Fermented soy

Fermented soy products like tempeh are another excellent source of phosphorus. One hundred grams of cooked tempeh contains 253 mg or 25 percent of your daily phosphorus requirement. 

Tempeh is also rich in protein, manganese, magnesium, copper, zinc magnesium, iron, and calcium.

Additionally, it’s rich in probiotics, which can help boost your digestive health.

4. Green and brown lentils

Mix of various color legumes lentils for background

Another legume high in phosphorus is lentil. Whether green or brown, lentils can help provide up to 36 percent of your daily needs. In addition to phosphorus, you’ll benefit from its high levels of antioxidants, protein, folate, magnesium, iron, and fiber.

5. Chickpeas

We all know it from hummus, but this ingredient has a lot to offer, both in nutrition and as a culinary ingredient.

A cup of cooked chickpeas contains 28 percent of the phosphorus needed to keep you moving. It’s also a good source of folate, iron, manganese, potassium, zinc, and protein.

Including chickpeas in your diet can help lower cholesterol, maintain strong bones, boost mental health, and support the digestive system.

To add it to the diet, go for the classic hummus recipe, roast them for a healthy snack, add them to soups, stews, or rice dishes, or use chickpea flour for baking.

Plant foods high in phosphorus: Nuts

Nuts are another great category of the best plant-based sources of phosphorus. The best to add to your diet include:

6. Almonds

With a handful making a healthy snack, almonds are one of the most nutritious nuts you can consume. They are very high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, including phosphorus.

An ounce of roasted almonds without salt contains about 137 milligrams or 14 percent of your daily requirement.

These nuts are also a good source of manganese, magnesium, and vitamin E, and regular consumption has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure. 

They can also increase satiety and reduce hunger levels when added to food, which can lower your food and calorie intake leading to weight loss.

You can easily enjoy almonds on their own as a snack, add them to trail mixes, include them in smoothie recipes and salads, make almond milk or add ground almonds to baked recipes.

Whichever way you choose to eat these goodies, you’re sure to get more than just phosphorus.

7. Brazil nuts

Native to the Amazonian forest of Brazil, Brazil nuts are known for their high selenium levels, which can help make you happy. This is because selenium promotes the production of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that promotes feelings of happiness.

Eating brazil nuts can also support the brain, fight inflammation, promote cardiovascular health, and improve thyroid function.

One ounce (28 grams ) of brazil nuts can offer up to 15 percent of your daily phosphorus requirements.

Be careful not to take too much of these nuts as they may result in too much selenium, so keep your intake between 1-3 nuts daily.

You can eat brazil nuts whole as a snack or add them to other foods.

8. Hazelnuts

Hazel nuts, also known as filberts, are a healthy snack with various health benefits, including reducing inflammation, protecting against cell damage, improving insulin sensitivity, and improving sperm count.

They are high in manganese, copper, magnesium, vitamin E, and healthy fats. Although they don’t contain as much phosphorus, an ounce can offer about 86.8 milligrams, equivalent to 9 percent of your daily requirement. This can still help boost your intake.

Hazel nuts have a sweet flavor, and you can enjoy them raw, roasted, or make a paste that you can add to cookies, ice creams, and other recipes.

9. Walnuts

Shelled walnuts with a nutcracker on a wooden background.

Walnuts are a common and exceptionally nutritious nut that’s very high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that regular consumption of walnuts can lower both LDL and total cholesterol and fight inflammation that can lead to heart disease.

In fact, two major studies found that five servings of walnuts per week could reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 50 percent.

Walnuts can also offer a good amount of phosphorus, with one ounce providing 10 percent of what you need in a day. Additionally, they are rich in other beneficial nutrients, including protein thiamine, vitamin B6, folate, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc.

You can easily toss crushed walnuts into salads or vegetables, sprinkle them on pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, or include them in bread recipes.

Plant foods high in phosphorus: Whole grains

10. Quinoa

Quinoa is a gluten-free ancient grain that has gained so much popularity due to its nutritional content. It’s especially a good source of protein, providing all the essential amino acids that the body needs.

It’s also a good source of phosphorus, with a cup (185g) of cooked quinoa providing 281 milligrams or 28 percent of your daily phosphorus requirement.

Other beneficial nutrients in quinoa include fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, and flavonoid antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol.

When regularly consumed, these nutrients can:

  • Fight inflammation in the body.
  • Improve digestion.
  • Regulate glucose levels in the blood.
  • Protect against cardiovascular disease.
  • Prevent bone disease.
  • Fight cancer.       
  • Aid in weight loss.

To add quinoa to your diet, try using it in place of rice in dishes, sprinkle on salads, add it to soups, blend in your smoothies, add to your homemade energy bars, or use it s a base for all sorts of bowls.

11. Whole grain rice

Whole grain rice refers to rice that has yet to be processed and still has its bran, germ, and endosperm intact. In other words, it’s brown rice that hasn’t been hulled.

This kind is considered healthy because it’s rich in fiber and other nutrients that would otherwise be lost during processing.

 A cup of cooked brown rice provides:

  • 29 percent of your daily protein intake.
  • 52 percent of daily thiamine needs.
  • 41% of daily niacin needs.
  • 485 of daily vitamin B6 needs.
  • 65% of daily magnesium needs.
  • More than 200% of daily manganese needs.
  • And 50 percent of your daily phosphorus requirements.

It’s also a good source of copper, zinc, potassium, and iron. Adding this rice to your regular diet can help:

  • Control diabetes.
  • Prevent obesity.
  • Improve digestive health.
  • Fight depression.
  • Prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Fight free radical damage.
  • Promote a healthy nervous system.

12. Oatmeal

Who doesn’t like oatmeal? It’s one of the healthiest superfoods and a pantry staple in most homes.

Its best known for its high levels of beta-glucan. A type of soluble fiber behind most of the oat’s benefits, including lowering cholesterol, fighting cancer, preventing diabetes, reducing the risk of heart disease, and improving the gut microbiome.

Other than that, oats are also an incredible source of phosphorus, with a cup of cooked regular old fashion oats providing 33 percent of your daily requirements.

Besides oatmeal, you can also make oatmeal risotto, cookies, muffins, or oat milk as a healthy alternative to dairy milk.

Signs of Phosphorus Deficiency

While phosphorus deficiency is rare, it can still happen. This can especially be propagated by eating disorders or poor diets in general. 

It can also result from chronic alcoholism and medical conditions like diabetes and inherited disorders that affect the body’s ability to use phosphorus.

Here are the common signs that you could be phosphorus deficient:

  • Weak bones: Phosphorus helps the body utilize calcium in born formation processes. So, a deficiency will cause weak bones that break more easily.
  • Anxiety.
  • Bone pain.
  • Stiff joints.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Changes in body weight.
  • Irritability.
  • Numbness.
  • Stunted growth and other development issues.
  • Tooth decay.
  • Difficult concentrating.

Considering the above points, it’s good to know that different conditions may present with the same symptoms. So it’s always good to see your doctor so they can rule out any other possible causes of your symptoms.

Do You Need a Supplement?

While phosphorus supplements aren’t always recommended, your doctor may recommend one if you have a health issue inhibiting you from getting enough of it from food.

Your recommended daily intake will depend on age and gender. Here is an overview:

  • Infants 0–6 months: 100 milligrams daily.
  • Infants 7–12 months: 275 milligrams daily.
  • Children ages 1–3: 420 milligrams daily.
  • Children 4–8: 500 milligrams daily.
  • Ages 9–18: 1,250 milligrams daily.
  • Adults ages 19–50: 700 milligrams daily.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women: 1250 milligrams daily.

Side Effects of Phosphorus Supplements

It’s usually rare to have high phosphorus levels, especially from dietary sources. This is because the kidney is designed to eliminate any excess amount that the body doesn’t need.

Nonetheless, taking too much as a supplement can become toxic. 

This can present with symptoms such as severe vomiting and diarrhea, hypotension, muscle cramps, bone and joint pain, and itchy skin or rash.

So, if you experience any of these symptoms after taking a phosphorus supplement, see your doctor immediately.

Related Articles:

  1. Top 9 Foods High in Phytoestrogens

  2. Top 5 Edible Flowers and Their Health Benefits

  3. The Best Copper Rich Foods to Eat

  4. Foods Highest in Beta Carotene

Final Thoughts

Phosphorus is an essential mineral needed for various functions in the body. Its especially known for its ability to promote healthy and strong teeth and bones. It can also increase energy levels, promote kidney health, and improve mental functions.

While animal sources are the most recognized sources of phosphorus, numerous plant sources exist that can offer a good amount of it plus additional nutrients, including other minerals, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

These foods are also easy to add to the diet without complicated preparations.

Phosphorus can also be obtained as a supplement; however, these may cause toxicity if taken in excess. Besides, dietary sources are always enough to meet your needs. So, unless you have a condition that really calls for a phosphorus supplement sticking to food sources Foods High in Phosphorus is the best way to obtain your nutrition.

 If you enjoyed this post about Top 12 Plant-Based Foods High in Phosphorus and would love to see more, join me on YoutubeInstagramFacebook & Twitter!

Get discounted copies of my cookbook here.

Fortunately, because of the ads on our website, readers and subscribers of Healthier Steps are sponsoring many underprivileged families.