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 BasicsA 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 DietThis 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|
|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|
SuggestionsBe 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).
Eat Right—American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation
Dietitians of Canada
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
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.
- Reviewer: Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 11/17/2014