Healthy Eating for People with Low White Cell Counts

Contact Information

(608) 265-1700 (clinic)

The Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant program at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin has served adult patients since 1981 and pediatric patients since 1982.


A New Diet


You will need to follow this diet because you are at greater risk of getting a food-borne infection. This diet will help you avoid some foods that may cause you to become ill.


If you have had an autologous stem cell transplant (donated own stem cells) you should remain on this diet for about three months after your transplant. Allogeneic transplant (received stem cells from a donor) patients should follow the diet until off all medicines used to suppress the immune system.


Healthy Eating Suggestions 


Food Groups

May Eat

Do Not Eat


  • All pasteurized, grade ‘A' milk and milk products, including eggnog, yogurt, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, ice cream bars, milkshakes, processed cheese slices and spreads, cream cheese, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese
  • Dry, refrigerated, or frozen pasteurized whipped topping
  • Commercially packaged hard and semi-soft cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, Swiss, Monterey Jack, etc.
  • Cooked soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, feta, farmer's cheese
  • Commercially sterile ready-to-feed and liquid concentrate infant formulas (avoid powdered infant formulas if a ready-to-feed or liquid concentrate alternative if available
  • Non-pasteurized or raw milk
  • Milk products made from non-pasteurized or raw milk
  • Cheeses from delicatessens
  • Cheese containing chili peppers or other uncooked vegetables
  • Cheeses with molds (such as blue, Stilton, Roquefort, gorgonzola)
  • Mexican-style soft cheese such as queso fresco, queso blanco

Meat or Meat Substitutes

  • All meats cooked to well done (poultry >180°F; other meats >160°F)
  • Canned meats (beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, shellfish, game, ham, bacon, sausage and hot dogs)
  • Eggs cooked until both white and yolk are firm
  • Pasteurized eggs and egg substitutes (such as Egg Beaters), and powdered egg white (all can be used uncooked)
  • Commercially packaged salami, bologna, hot dogs, ham and other luncheon meats, heated until steaming
  • Canned and shelf-stable smoked fish (refrigerate after opening)
  • Pasteurized or cooked tofu
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood such as salmon or trout if cooked to 160°F or contained in a cooled dish or casserole
  • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, game, tofu
  • Raw or undercooked eggs and non-pasteurized egg substitutes; no eggs over easy, soft-boiled eggs, or poached eggs
  • Meats and cold cuts from delicatessens
  • Hard cured salami in natural wrap
  • Uncooked refrigerated smoked seafood such as salmon or trout labeled as ‘nova-style,' ‘lox,' ‘kippered,' ‘smoked' or ‘jerky'
  • Pickled fish
  • Tempe (tempeh) products

Fruits and Nuts

  • Well-washed raw and frozen fruit
  • Foods containing well-washed raw fruits
  • Cooked, canned and frozen fruit
  • Pasteurized juices and frozen juice concentrates
  • Dried fruits
  • Canned or bottled roasted nuts
  • Shelled, roasted nuts and nuts in baked products
  • Commercially packaged nut butters (such as peanut butter, almond butter, soybean butter
  • Unwashed raw fruits
  • Fresh or frozen berries
  • Un-roasted raw nuts
  • Roasted nuts in the shell
  • Non-pasteurized fruit and vegetable juices
  • Fresh fruit salsa found in the grocery refrigerator case
  • Non-pasteurized items containing raw fruits found in the grocery refrigerator case

Entrees and Soups

  • All cooked entrees and soups
  • All miso products (such as miso soup and miso paste)


  • Well-washed raw and frozen vegetables
  • All cooked fresh, frozen or canned vegetables, including potatoes
  • Shelf-stable bottled salsa (refrigerate after opening)
  • Cooked vegetable sprouts (such as mung bean sprouts)
  • Fresh, well-washed herbs, and dried herbs and spices (added to raw or cooked foods)
  • Unwashed raw vegetables or herbs
  • Fresh, non-pasteurized vegetable salsa found in the grocery refrigerator case
  • Non-pasteurized items containing raw vegetables found in the grocery refrigerator case
  • All raw vegetable sprouts (alfalfa sprouts, clover sprouts, mung bean sprouts, all others)
  • Salads from delicatessens

Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta

  • All breads, bagels, rolls, English muffins, muffins, pancakes, sweet rolls, waffles and French toast
  • Potato chips, corn chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, popcorn
  • Cooked grains and grain products, including pasta and rice
  • All cereals, cooked and ready-to-eat
  • Raw (not baked or cooked) grain products (such as raw oats)



  • Boiled well water
  • Tap water and ice made from tap water
  • Commercially bottled distilled, spring and natural waters
  • All canned, bottled and powdered beverages
  • Instant and brewed coffee and tea; cold brewed tea made with boiling water
  • Herbal teas brewed from commercially packaged tea bags
  • Commercial nutritional supplements, both liquid and powdered
  • Commercially sterile ready-to-feed and liquid concentrate infant formulas (avoid powdered infant formulas if a ready-to-feed or liquid concentrate alternative is available)
  • Un-boiled well water
  • Cold-brewed tea made with warm or cold water
  • Non-pasteurized fruit and vegetable juices
  • Mate tea
  • Wine, non-pasteurized beer (Note: All alcoholic beverages should only be consumed after physician approval.)


  • Refrigerated commercial and homemade cakes, pies, pastries and pudding
  • Refrigerated cream-filled pastries
  • Cookies, both homemade and commercially prepared
  • Shelf-stabled cream-filled cupcakes (such as Twinkies, Ding Dongs) and fruit pies (such as Poptarts and Hostess fruit pies)
  • Canned and refrigerated puddings
  • Ices, popsicles and similar products
  • Candy, gum
  • Un-refrigerated cream-filled pastry products (not shelf-stabled)



  • Vegetable oils and shortening
  • Refrigerated lard, margarine, butter
  • Commercial, shelf-stable mayonnaise and salad dressings, including Blue cheese and other cheese-based salad dressings (refrigerate after opening)
  • Cooked gravy and sauces
  • Fresh salad dressings (stored in the grocer's refrigerated case) containing raw eggs or cheeses listed as ‘Do not eat' under ‘Dairy'


  • Commercial pasteurized grade A honey
  • Salt, granulated sugar, brown sugar
  • Jam, jelly, syrups (refrigerate after opening)
  • Catsup, mustard, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, other condiments (refrigerate after opening)
  • Pickles, pickle relish, olives (refrigerate after opening)
  • Vinegar
  • Raw honey; honey in the comb
  • Herbal and nutrient supplement preparations
  • Brewers yeast, if uncooked