Health Library

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.



Last reviewed September 2013 by Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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