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Low-Oxalate Diet

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by Adams M

What Are Oxalates?

Oxalates are naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and humans.

Why Should I Follow a Low-Oxalate Diet?

In the body, oxalates combine with calcium and iron to form crystals. In most people these crystals are passed from the body in urine. For some people, these crystals can grow into kidney stones. A low-oxalate diet may reduce the risk of certain types of kidney stones.
The effects of oxalate in the body depends several on factors, including how your body absorbs oxalate in the stomach and intestines, so this diet does not work for everyone. Fortunately, you can still get all the nutrients you need without excess oxalates in your diet. Talk to a registered dietitian about your goals and concerns.

Low-Oxalate Basics

A low-oxalate diet usually limits oxalate intake to about 50 milligrams (mg) per day. Because oxalates are found in many different foods, it is important to become familiar with which foods are fine to eat in moderation and which foods should be avoided.
Unfortunately, there are variations in reported amounts of oxalates in food. New methods of measurement may counter established norms, causing confusion. There are also variations of the same food, for example, different kale can range from low oxalate levels (dino kale) to moderate oxalate levels (curly kale). Oxalate content can also vary depending on cooking or processing method, soil content, time of harvest, and form (fresh versus canned).

Eating Guide for a Low-Oxalate Diet

This chart from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spotlights foods that are either low or moderate in oxalates. If you have calcium stones, it is important to decrease your sodium intake as well.
Foods Low in Sodium or OxalateFoods Recommended
Drinks
Coffee, fruit and vegetable juice (from the recommended list), fruit punch
Fruits
Apples, apricots (fresh or canned), avocado, bananas, cherries (sweet), cranberries, grapefruit, red or green grapes, lemon and lime juice, melons, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, oranges, strawberries (fresh), tangerines
Vegetables
Artichokes, asparagus, bamboo shoots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chayote squash, chicory, corn, cucumbers, endive, lettuce, lima beans, mushrooms, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, zucchini
Breads, Cereals, Grains
Egg noodles, rye bread, cooked and dry cereals without nuts or bran, crackers with unsalted tops, white or wild rice
Meat, Meat Replacements, Fish, Poultry
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, egg whites, egg replacements
Soup
Homemade soup (using the recommended veggies and meat), low-sodium bouillon, low-sodium canned
Desserts
Cookies, cakes, ice cream, pudding without chocolate or nuts, candy without chocolate or nuts
Fats and Oils
Butter, margarine, cream, oil, salad dressing, mayonnaise
Other Foods
Unsalted potato chips or pretzels, herbs (eg, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder), lemon juice, salt-free seasoning blends, vinegar
Other Foods Low in OxalateFoods Recommended
Drinks
Beer, cola, wine, buttermilk, lemonade or limeade (without added vitamin C), milk
Meat, Meat Replacements, Fish, Poultry
Lunch meat, ham, bacon, hot dogs, bratwurst, sausage, chicken nuggets, cheddar cheese, canned fish and shellfish
Soup
Tomato soup, cheese soup
Other Foods
Coconuts, lemon or lime juices, sugar or sweeteners, jellies or jams (from the recommended list)
Moderate-Oxalate FoodsFoods to Limit
Drinks
Fruit and vegetable juices (from the recommended list), chocolate milk, rice milk, hot cocoa, tea
Fruits
Blackberries, blueberries, black currants, cherries (sour), fruit cocktail, mangoes, orange peel, prunes, purple plums
Vegetables
Baked beans, carrots, celery, green beans, parsnips, summer squash, tomatoes, turnips
Breads, Cereals, Grains
White bread, cornbread or cornmeal, white English muffins, saltine or soda crackers, brown rice, vanilla wafers, spaghetti and other noodles, firm tofu, bagels, oatmeal
Meat/meat replacements, fish, poultry
Sardines
Desserts
Chocolate cake
Fats and Oils
Macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, english walnuts
Other Foods
Jams or jellies (made with the recommended fruits), pepper
High-Oxalate FoodsFoods to Avoid
Drinks
Chocolate drink mixes, soy milk, Ovaltine, instant iced tea, fruit juices of fruits listed below
Fruits
Apricots (dried), red currants, figs, kiwi, plums, rhubarb
Vegetables
Beans (wax, dried), beets and beet greens, chives, collard greens, eggplant, escarole, dark greens of all kinds,, leeks, okra, parsley, rutabagas, spinach, Swiss chard, tomato paste, watercress
Breads, Cereals, Grains
Amaranth, barley, white corn flour, fried potatoes, fruitcake, grits, soybean products, sweet potatoes, wheat germ and bran, buckwheat flour, All Bran cereal, graham crackers, pretzels, whole wheat bread
Meat/meat replacements, fish, poultry
Dried beans, peanut butter, soy burgers, miso
Desserts
Carob, chocolate, marmalades
Fats and Oils
Nuts (peanuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts), nut butters, sesame seeds, tahini paste
Other Foods
Poppy seeds

Suggestions

Be aware of how many grams of oxalates you are eating. Consider meeting with a registered dietitian to develop an eating plan. You may need to make several adjustments to reach the effects you want.
Additional tips to help prevent kidney stones include:
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids every day.
  • Do not take large doses of vitamin C supplements (limit to less than 1,000 mg/day).
  • Keep protein intake below 80 grams/day.
  • Eat a low salt diet (less than 2,000 mg/day).
 

RESOURCES

Eat Right—American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
http://www.eatright.org

The Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation
http://www.ohf.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

The Kidney Foundation of Canada
http://www.kidney.ca

 

References


Attalla K, De S, et al. Oxalate content of food: A tangled web. Urology. 2014;84(3):555-560.


Diet and kidney stones. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diet.cfm. Updated August 2013. Accessed August 28, 2014.


Diet for kidney stone formation. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/kidneystonediet/index.aspx. Updated November 15, 2013. Accessed August 28, 2014.


Finkielstein VA, Goldfarb DS. Strategies for preventing calcium oxalate stones. CMAJ. 2006;174:1407-1409.


Massey LK. Food oxalate: factors affecting measurement, biological variation, and bioavailability. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107(7):1191-1194.


Urolithiasis/urinary stones food lists. American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: http://www.nutritioncaremanual.org/vault/editor/docs//UrolithiasisFoods1.pdf. Accessed August 28, 2014.

 

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