Low-Oxalate Diet

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 Oxalate Foods 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 Oxalate Foods 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 Foods Foods 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 Foods Foods 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

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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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