Cheese and CKD

Cheese and CKD, two things you often read online that cannot go together. But, this post will have some information and things to consider. Because you can eat cheese with CKD, but there are some things to consider. So let’s dive in.

Health Benefits of Cheese

First off, let’s talk about the benefits of cheese and perhaps why you may want to eat it; besides the fact that it is delicious to eat.

Cheese has an abundance of calcium, a very important mineral in our diet. Calcium is essential to maintain the integrity of our bone structure. Consuming enough calcium can prevent us from developing osteoporosis, a disease in which bone mineral density and mass decrease, thus leading to frequent fractures.

Another important micronutrient present in some cheeses is vitamin B12. Check out this article for some other B12 sources.

Additionally, cheese is a source of protein, which although needs to be consumed in moderation with CKD, it is still important. For reference, there is approximately 25g of protein per 100 grams of cheese.

Plus cheese has lots of “good” bacteria which can aid in digestive health. And we know that keeping the gut healthy can help to maintain good kidney function.

Cheese and CKD Considerations

With CKD, your first concern about eating cheese is likely the sodium content. Cheese is typically a salty food. When buying cheese, check the label and aim to buy a cheese that has less than 10% of the daily recommended value of sodium in one serving.

The mineral that might have not immediately come to mind, but is very important for you to look out for, is the phosphorus content in cheese. Some cheeses are better than others in terms of phosphorus content which will be seen in the chart below. Specifically in highly processed cheeses, phosphorus additives are used. The reason phosphorus additives are important to look for in foods is that your uptake or absorption of that phosphorus is extremely high in comparison to naturally occurring phosphorus in our foods. In fact we actually absorb 100% of this type of phosphorus. As a result, those cheeses should be avoided altogether. Because phosphorus content isn’t going to be on the nutrition label, you will want to look for ingredients that contain the words phosphate or phosphoric. It can be easily identified as “PHOS” in the ingredient list. Check out this article for more information on phosphorus.

It is also important to note that cheese is high in saturated fat, and because CKD can put you at higher risk for heart disease, saturated fat should be consumed in moderation. Therefore, cheeses should be consumed in smaller amounts or alternatively you should look for a low milk fat percentage cheese. Look for cheese with less than 20% MF (or milk fat) on the front of the label.

The Best Cheese and CKD

CKD Friendly CheeseCheese To Consume In Small Amounts
(1 oz)
Cheese to Avoid
Unsalted Cottage Cheese
sodium: 13 mg/100 g serving
phosphorus: 134 mg/100 g serving
protein: 12.4 g/100 g serving
saturated fat: 0.632 g/100 g serving
Swiss Cheese
sodium: 70 mg/100 g serving
phosphorus: 567 mg/100 g serving
protein: 26.93 g/100 g serving
saturated fat: 17.8 g/100 g serving
Processed Cheese Slices
sodium: 727mg/100 g serving
phosphorus: 412mg/100 g serving
protein: 21.6g/100 g serving
saturated fat: 15.56g/100 g serving
Cream Cheese
sodium: 436 mg/100 g serving
phosphorus: 91 mg/100 g serving
protein: 7.1 g/100 g serving
saturated fat: 18 g/100 g serving
Brie Cheese
sodium: 629 mg/100 g serving
phosphorus: 188 mg/100 g serving
protein: 20.75 g/100 g serving
saturated fat: 17.41 g/100 g serving
Cheese Spreads
sodium: 1638 mg/100 g serving
phosphorus: 806mg/100 g serving
protein: 12g/100 g serving
saturated fat: 13.1 g/100 g serving
Partly Skim Ricotta Cheese
sodium: 99 mg/100 g serving
phosphorus: 183 mg/100 g serving
protein: 11.39 g/100 g serving
saturated fat: 4.93 g/100 g serving
Cheddar Cheese
sodium: 644 mg/100 g serving
phosphorus: 473 mg/100 g serving
protein: 24.04 g/100 g serving
saturated fat: 19.4 g/100 g serving

This article was written by Rachel Rosenberg, Nutrition Student Volunteer.
This article was reviewed by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN.

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