How to Enjoy Cheese on a CKD Diet 

Kidney-friendly cheese

Anna Richardson, MPH RD 

Ah, delicious cheese. Cheese is a favourite food of many, but a lot of people with CKD are told to avoid or limit their cheese intake due to its content of phosphorus, potassium or sodium. Cheese in its many forms is typically high in protein as well as calcium, and is especially good as part of a snack since it is easy to slice up and eat with crackers, sliced veggies, or bread. Not to mention, it is delicious and satisfying! Understandably, many people with CKD feel they are missing out on cheese. 

However, there are some cheeses that are more kidney-friendly and many people can incorporate them into their diet regularly. Of course – everyone is different, so ask your Registered Dietitian for more information! The table below lists many common cheeses with phosphorus, sodium, potassium and protein – nutrients we like to focus on in CKD.  

For many cheeses, the usual serving size is 30 grams or 1 ounce. This is approximately the size of your thumb. 

Nutrient breakdown of common cheeses 

TypeServing SizePhosphorusSodiumPotassiumProtein
Cream cheese2 tbsp32 mg108mg40 mg2 g
Ricotta cheese1/4 cup104 mg55 mg69 mg7 g
Feta30 g (1 oz)101 mg275 mg19 mg6 g
Brie30 g (1 oz)56 mg188 mg46 mg6 g
Shredded Parmesan2 tbsp74 mg172 mg 10 mg4 g
Cottage cheese (regular)1/2 cuo179 mg368 mg149 mg12.5 g
Cottage cheese (no salt added)1/2 cup179 mg55 mg200 mg16 g
Mozzarella30 g (1oz)124 mg213 mg23 mg6.5 g
Soft goat cheese (chèvre)30 g (1oz)77 mg138 mg8 mg5.5 g
Cheddar30 g (1 oz)143 mg194 mg23 mg7 g
Swiss Cheese30 g (1 oz)170 mg21 ng23 mg8 g
Processed cheese slices1 slice (21 g)112 mg381 mg68 mg4 g
Source: Canadian Nutrient File 

As you can see in this table, there is quite a bit of variety in the potassium, phosphorus and sodium content of cheeses. The lowest in phosphorus are cream cheese, brie, parmesan and goat cheese. The lowest in potassium are feta and goat cheese. The lowest sodium options are ricotta, cottage cheese with no salt added, and Swiss cheese. If you’re looking for overall CKD-friendly cheeses, your best bets are cream cheese, goat cheese, ricotta, and parmesan.  

Keep in mind that a low phosphate diet is often around 800-1000mg, a low sodium diet is often around 2000mg, and a low potassium diet is often 2000-3000mg.  This varies by person, but good to keep in mind when looking at the amounts in foods to determine if they are high or low.  

Bottom line, most people can safely enjoy some cheese in their diets, as long as they are mindful of frequency and portion sizes.  

Easy CKD snacks with cheese: 

  • Cream cheese and sliced cucumber on a whole wheat bagel 
  • Ricotta on a slice of toast drizzled with honey and berries 
  • Greek salad with bell pepper, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette 
  • Tuna salad sandwich with a slice of swiss cheese 
  • Cottage cheese with sliced apples and cinnamon 
  • Air-popped popcorn sprinkled with 1-2 tbsp of shredded parmesan cheese 

Enjoy cheese with the recipes below from Kidney Community Kitchen! 

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