MD REVIEW

Eating Low‑Oxalate Foods

Organically occurring within many foods you eat, too many oxalates can lead to health problems. Discuss these oxalate-reduction strategies with a medical professional.

Should You Lower Oxalate Consumption?

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Your body naturally produces and eliminates a salt called oxalate, but in high amounts, this can have adverse effects. Some people, more sensitive to oxalates, may be prone to developing kidney stones or perhaps one of several forms of hyperoxaluria or oxalosis (kidney failure). Hyperoxaluria is a disease caused by a pathologic hyperabsorption of dietary oxalate leading to its elevated excretion through the urinary tract.

Both plant-based diners and meat eaters can develop kidney stones. Incidence of kidney stones is higher among high-intake meat eaters. Vegetarians have a lower risk of developing kidney stones compared to consumers of large amounts of meat.

Many high-oxalate foods are common sources of protein, vitamins, and fiber among vegans and vegetarians. Meat, chicken, and fish are not sources of oxalate. Your body’s elevation in oxalates may be due to excessive Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) metabolism, improper diet, or the body’s natural metabolism.

Severe Restrictions

The dietary challenge patients face is that some foods with oxalates also contain essential vitamins and minerals. For example, high-oxalate foods like spinach, almonds, cashews, peanut butter, and tofu provide magnesium.

Correcting an imbalance of oxalates is not as simple as taking vitamin or mineral supplements. As mentioned, high-dosage Vitamin C or magnesium can contribute to oxalate elevation and kidney stone formation. Careful food selection is necessary to minimize renal oxalate levels.

Adding lemon to water can be beneficial. Such bioactive water helps neutralize acid within urine to prevent calcium stones from forming. Aim to drink the juice from one small lemon or lime within your water throughout the day.

Most people get between 200 and 300 mg of oxalates daily. If you’re among the 10% of the population who is at risk for kidney stones, endeavor to consume less than 100 mg per day. Doctors may recommend “low-oxalate diets” of less than 50 mg daily for some people.

A low-oxalate lifestyle is more restrictive than a typical vegan diet. With a very low oxalate restriction, you may strive to consume only low-category foods with single-digit oxalates.

Oxalate Categories
  • Low: 1–9 mg per serving
  • Moderate: 10–25 mg per serving
  • High: 26–99 mg per serving
  • Very high: 100+ mg per serving

Common Food Oxalates

(Tap header to sort)
FoodCate­goryMgType
Acorn squash (½ cup)Low1Veggies
Apple (1)Low1Fruit
Arugula (1 oz)Low7Veggies
Banana (1)Low3Fruit
Beer (1 can)Low4Beverage
Biscuit (1)Low6Grain
Blueberries (½ cup)Low2Fruit
Bok choy raw (½ cup)Low1Veggies
Broccoli (½ cup)Low1Veggies
Butternut squash (½ cup)Low5Veggies
Cabbage (½ cup)Low1Veggies
Carrot (cooked)Low7Veggies
Catsup/ketchup (1 Tbsp)Low1Condiment
Cauliflower (½ cup)Low1Veggies
Celery (1 raw stalk)Low3Veggies
Chicken (3 oz)Low0Protein
Cherries (½ cup)Low3Fruit
Chickpea, Garbonzo (3.5 oz)Low2.4Veggies
Cranberries (½ cup dried)Low1Fruit
Coffee (1 cup)Low1Beverage
Corn (½ cup)Low1Veggies
Cracker (1)Low1Snack
Cucumber (¼ cup)Low1Veggies
Edamame (1 cup)Low7Veggies
Grapes (½ cup)Low1Fruit
Green pepper (1 ring)Low1Veggies
Honey (1 Tbsp)Low0Condiment
Kale (1 cup)Low2Veggies
Lemon (1 wedge)Low1Fruit
LettuceLow0Veggies
Lime (½)Low3Fruit
Mac and cheese (1 cup)Low4Grain
Mayonnaise (1 Tbsp)Low0Condiment
Mixed vegetables (½ cup)Low4Veggies
Mung beans (½ cup)Low3Veggies
Mushrooms (1 oz)Low0Veggies
Mustard (1 tsp)Low1Condiment
Nectarine (1)Low0Fruit
Oatmeal cereal (1 cup)Low0Grain
Oatmeal cookie (home)Low2Snack
Oatmeal cookie (store)Low4Snack
Onions (1 oz)Low0Veggies
Orange juice (1 cup)Low2Beverage
Orzo pasta (½ cup)Low3Grain
Peach (1)Low0Fruit
Peas (½ cup)Low1Veggies
Pear (1)Low2Fruit
Pepper black (⅛ tsp)*Low0Spice
Pepper white (⅛ tsp)Low0Spice
Pineapple juice (1 cup)Low3Fruit
Pineapple (1 cup)Low4Fruit
Plum (1)Low0Fruit
Radish (10)Low0Veggies
Rice white (3.5 oz)Low4.6Grain
Soy Sauce (1 Tbsp)*Low3Condiment
Spaghetti squash (½ cup)Low3Veggies
String beans (½ cup)Low9Veggies
Spaghetti squash (½ cup)Low3Veggies
Strawberries (½ cup)Low2Fruit
Tea (brewed green)Low1Beverage
Tortilla (1)Low8Grain
Turkey (5 oz)Low0Protein
Water chestnuts (4)Low0Veggies
Watermelon (1 slice)Low1Fruit
Yogurt plain (1 cup)Low2Dairy
Zucchini (½ cup)Low1Veggies
All-purpose flour (1 cup)Moderate17Grain
Avocado (1)Moderate19Fruit
Carrot raw (1)Moderate10Veggies
Celery cooked (1 cup)Moderate10Veggies
Chicken enchilada (1)Moderate13Protein
Chocolate chip cookie (store)Moderate10Snack
Collards (1 cup)Moderate10Veggies
Couscous (1 cup)Moderate15Grain
Navy beans (1 cup)Moderate24Protein
Olives (10)Moderate18Veggies
Peanut butter (1 Tbsp)Moderate13Protein
Pecans (1 oz)Moderate10Protein
Pistachios (48)Moderate14Protein
Pumpkin seeds (1 cup)Moderate17Protein
Rice brown (½ cup)Moderate10Grain
Tahini (1 Tbsp)Moderate16Protein
Tempeh (3 oz)Moderate23Protein
Tomato sauce (½ cup)Moderate17Veggies
Veggie burger (1)Moderate24Protein
Beets (½ cup)High76Veggies
Brown rice flour (1 cup)High65Grain
Brown wheat flour (1 cup)High29Grain
Candies w/nuts (2 oz)High38Snack
Cornmeal (1 cup)High64Grain
Cashews (18)High49Protein
Chili beans (1 cup)High24Protein
Chocolate syrup (2 Tbsp)High38Snack
Cocoa (4 tsp)High67Snack
French fries (½ cup)High51Veggies
Grits (1 cup)High97Starch
Hot chocolate (1 cup)High65Beverage
Orange (1)High29Fruit
Peanuts (1 oz)High27Protein
Pine nuts (1 oz)High28Protein
Pineapple (canned)High30Fruit
Potato chips plain (3.5 oz)High73Snack
Potato baked (1)High97Veggies
Potato (1 cup mashed)High29Veggies
Raspberries (1 cup)High48Fruit
Soy burger (1)High58Protein
Sweet potato (1 cup)High28Veggies
Yam (½ cup)High40Veggies
Almonds (24)Very High122Protein
Parsley (1 oz)Very High486Beverage
Soy beverage (1 cup)Very High336Beverage
Spinach (½ cup cooked)Very High656Veggies
Spinach (½ cup raw)Very High755Veggies
Tofu firm w/calcium (3.5 oz)Very High235Protein
Textured vegetable protein (TVP)Very High496Protein
Weight conversations: 1 oz ≈ 28.35 g | 3.5 oz ≈ 100 g | 1 cup ≈ 250 g. 

Special Oxalate Considerations

* Though pepper (3400 mg per 100 g), parsley (1700 mg per 100 g), and chives (1480 mg per 100 g) are extremely high-oxalate foods, they are generally consumed in negligible quantities. Avoid too many salty foods.

A cup of soy milk or yogurt can have up to 336 mg of oxalates per serving. Brown rice flour, bulgur, buckwheat, cornmeal, soy flour, and wheatberries are all high in oxalate.

In the tuber category, yams have considerably more oxalates than sweet potatoes. A baked russet potato (97 mg each) is higher than both of them. The best option is to reduce portions, remove skin, and boil. Either cook until soft and mash (29 mg per cup) or remove from water while firm, coat with olive oil and then air fry or roast in the oven.

For salads, arugula, romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, kale, watercress, cabbage, mustard, turnip, and collard greens are all good choices. Wilting (cooking) fibrous greens lowers residual oxalates. Homemade coleslaw is a nutritious option. To better gauge oxalate content, you should get used to eating foods in their whole form, rather than prepackaged processed foods.

Get yourself a food scale to monitor food portions. Consuming too much of foods with moderate amounts of oxalates can cause you to exceed your daily limits. It is possible to exceed a diet of 50 mg of daily oxalates with just 5 ounces of pecans or a large bag of potato chips.

The goal is for oxalate salts to pass through the intestines. Going through the renal system increases the chance to accumulate and crystalize as kidney stones. Oxalates may also travel to other parts of the body—causing calcification within veins, arteries, or joints. Among other causes, expelling many oxalates within the urine may contribute to vulvodynia.

Extra sodium causes you to lose more calcium in your urine. Sodium and calcium share the same transport in the kidney so if you eat high-sodium foods it will increase calcium leakage in the urine. To decrease chances of developing stones, lower your salt intake.

Importance of Calcium Balance

Calcium is an essential nutrient. Even a low-oxalate diet should include 800 to 1,200 mg of daily calcium. With inadequate calcium, oxalate concentration rises. When paired, the two bind and are eliminated from the body through the intestines.

Dairy is free of oxalates, but high in calcium. Hence, a slice of cheese on a moderate-to-high oxalate peanut butter sandwich or soy burger binds with the oxalate for elimination. Calcium should always be paired with oxalate to achieve this benefit. Have a cup of milk with a meal or sprinkle nuts on a scoop of ice cream.

Mac n cheese bowl
Though mac and cheese is low in oxalates, it contains calcium. So it’s best to consume with higher oxalate foods.

Milk, hard cheese, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, buttermilk, custard and pudding do not contain oxalates. Most types of pasta have at least moderate oxalates—the lowest being spaghetti.

Dairy alternatives with the highest calcium include macadamia or rice beverages. Oat milk has similar characteristics to dairy milk (moderate calcium, potassium and sodium with low oxalate).

Sample Low-Oxalate Meal Plan

Breakfast: Rice and scrambled eggs with veggies. Cup of coffee with cream.

Lunch: Broiled chicken (or Impossible® burger with cheese slice). Salad made with cucumber, arugula, tomato, mushroom, pistachio. 1 cup fruit juice.

Dinner: Chicken (seitan) pieces sautéed in olive oil with broccoli, bell pepper, onions, garlic and pasta. 1 cup dairy or oat milk.

Snack options: Four crackers, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, and 1 cheese slice. Air-popped popcorn. Apple, grapes, or nectarine.

Stone Composition

Hyperoxaluria may be hereditary. It can result from an intestinal disease or from eating too many oxalate-rich foods. Symptoms include:

  • Severe or sudden back pain
  • Persistent pain below ribs on back flank
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Pain when urinating
  • Chills or fever

About 75 to 80% of kidney stones have a calcium oxalate composition. Kidney stone formation may occur once in a lifetime or become a chronic condition. Increasing water consumption resolves 50% of kidney stone issues.

Before upending all of your meal preparation, your doctor may recommend obtaining a lab analysis of your urine or kidney stone. In order of commonality, it could be calcium, struvite, uric acid, or hereditary crystine stones.

Oxalic acid is typically found in either water soluble sodium or potassium oxalate foods, or insoluble calcium oxalate. Magnesium oxalate is also poorly soluble in water, although the contribution of this salt to the insoluble fraction of oxalate in food is unclear. Insoluble oxalates pass through the stool rather than remaining within your body.

In a 2007 study by Ritter and Savage, roasted pistachio nuts and chestnuts contained very low levels (<85 mg/100 g fresh weight) of gastric soluble oxalate. Almonds, Brazil, and cashew nuts contained higher levels of intestinal soluble oxalate (216–305 mg/100 g). Pine nuts contained the highest levels of intestinal soluble oxalate (581 mg/100 g).

The Mold Connection

Aspergillus mold species will produce oxalates during their fermentation process. Some specialists screen for this before implementing severe dietary changes.

Breathing in air contaminated with mold spores causes spores to enter your mouth. If those swallowed spores take up residence within your gut microbiome, they can start producing oxalate-like molecules in your gut. Over time, this may create an elevated body burden of oxalates, triggering sensitivity to food-derived oxalates.

You may also experience occasional fatigue or dizziness. If you suspect Aspergillus mold triggered oxalate sensitivity, endeavor to remove the source of mold. Then balance your system with probiotics. Ingestion of probiotics that provide bacteria with oxalate-degrading capacity have led to promising but generally mixed results.

If water intake does not resolve recurring kidney stones and lab tests confirm calcium oxalate is causing them or you have a high oxalate count within your urine, a low-oxalate diet may be appropriate. In that case, it is best to consult a medical professional or registered dietitian who specializes in such meal planning.

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