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.
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.
Coffee, fruit and vegetable juice (from the recommended list), fruit punch
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
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
Egg noodles, rye bread, cooked and dry cereals without nuts or bran, crackers with unsalted tops, white or wild rice
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, egg whites, egg replacements
Homemade soup (using the recommended veggies and meat), low-sodium bouillon, low-sodium canned
Cookies, cakes, ice cream, pudding without chocolate or nuts, candy without chocolate or nuts
Butter, margarine, cream, oil, salad dressing, mayonnaise
Unsalted potato chips or pretzels, herbs (eg, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder), lemon juice, salt-free seasoning blends, vinegar
Beer, cola, wine, buttermilk, lemonade or limeade (without added vitamin C), milk
Lunch meat, ham, bacon, hot dogs, bratwurst, sausage, chicken nuggets, cheddar cheese, canned fish and shellfish
Tomato soup, cheese soup
Coconuts, lemon or lime juices, sugar or sweeteners, jellies or jams (from the recommended list)
Fruit and vegetable juices (from the recommended list), chocolate milk, rice milk, hot cocoa, tea
Blackberries, blueberries, black currants, cherries (sour), fruit cocktail, mangoes, orange peel, prunes, purple plums
Baked beans, carrots, celery, green beans, parsnips, summer squash, tomatoes, turnips
White bread, cornbread or cornmeal, white English muffins, saltine or soda crackers, brown rice, vanilla wafers, spaghetti and other noodles, firm tofu, bagels, oatmeal
Macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, english walnuts
Jams or jellies (made with the recommended fruits), pepper
Chocolate drink mixes, soy milk, Ovaltine, instant iced tea, fruit juices of fruits listed below
Apricots (dried), red currants, figs, kiwi, plums, rhubarb
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
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
Dried beans, peanut butter, soy burgers, miso
Carob, chocolate, marmalades
Nuts (peanuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts), nut butters, sesame seeds, tahini paste
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).
- Reviewer: Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
- Review Date: 09/2013 -
- Update Date: 11/17/2014 -