HealthSheets™


Discharge Instructions: Eating a Low-Copper Diet

Your healthcare provider has prescribed a low-copper diet for you. Most people who are asked to follow a low-copper diet have Wilson’s disease, which causes the level of copper in your blood and urine to be too high. Here’s what you can do at home to lower your copper intake.

General guidelines

  • Have your home tap water checked to be sure that it doesn’t have high levels of copper.

  • Don’t cook with copper-lined bowls, pots, pans, or cooking utensils.

  • Read food labels. Note the copper content if it is available.

Making food choices

  • Choose breads, rolls, cereals and pastas made from refined flour, and white rice. Avoid wheat germ, bran cereals, and bran breads.

  • Eat vegetables, but avoid vegetable juice cocktails (such as V-8 juice), mushrooms, and potatoes with skin. Canned sweet potatoes are OK, but avoid fresh sweet potatoes.

  • Avoid beans (including peas, lentils, and lima, garbanzo, pinto, red, black, and soy beans).

  • Don’t eat tofu.

  • Don’t eat commercially dried fruit, fruit leathers, raisins, or prunes.

  • Don't eat avocados. Limit mangos, papayas, pineapple, kiwi, and pears.

  • Don't eat foods that contain chocolate, or cocoa.

  • Don't eat nuts, peanut butter or other nut butters.

  • Don't drink any soy or chocolate drinks, instant breakfast drinks, or meal replacement drinks or bars.

  • You may drink milk and eat dairy products that don’t contain soy or chocolate. Choose milk, yogurt, cheese (including cream cheese and cottage cheese), custard, eggs, or coconut milk.

  • Eat small portions of animal protein. Avoid pork, lamb, dark-meat turkey or chicken, and organ meats. Avoid shellfish.

  • Limit your intake of licorice to 1 ounce or less per day.

  • Don't drink alcohol—it can be harmful to your liver.

Follow-up

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite

  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes

  • Dark urine

  • Bloody, black stools or unusually light-colored stools

  • Vomiting blood

  • Abdominal swelling

  • Itching that doesn’t go away

  • Swollen feet or legs 

  • Red palms

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Confusion

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