For those who may not know what oxalate is, it is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in the human body and also in a number of plants. Oxalate is not a necessary supplement for our diets, and when it is over-consumed, it can lead to medical issues, such as kidney stones, gout, rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments.
Common plants that contain oxalate include rhubarb roots and leaves, buckwheat, star fruit, parsley, black pepper, poppy seed, spinach, beets and many others. But why does oxalate cause kidney stones? When in the body, the oxalic acid binds with other molecules such as calcium and iron, which then form crystals that are excreted in the urine. These crystals can form larger kidney stones; it is said that an estimated 80% of kidney stones are caused by an oxalate-rich diet. The majority of those who may suffer from kidney stones, gout, and other oxalate-induced issues are advised to avoid foods high in oxalic acid.
Here are some of the top foods you should avoid when looking for a healthy low oxalate diet:
10. Some Beverages
Though we may be mindful of our eating habits, it seems that beverages may take the back seat at times and be forgotten or neglected. Some drinks that are really high in oxalate include hot chocolate, carrot juice, lemonade and soy milk among others. Hot chocolate takes the number one spot, averaging 65 mg of oxalate per cup, followed by carrot juice with 27 mg and frozen “from-concentrate” lemonade at 15 mg.
A variety of nuts are also high in oxalate, particularly almonds, so it is best to avoid milk alternatives like almond milk and cashew milk as well.
A lot of us dread hearing this one, but try your best to cut down on the sweets with a low oxalate diet. You don’t have to go full-blown here, as this certainly is not the worst item on the list, but a single slice of chocolate cake has about 15 mg of oxalate, and other flour-based sweets are pretty high too. Brownies are really high too, and a half of one has an impressive 31 mg of oxalate. What’s good about this one, though, is that chocolate and other sweets go well with milk and dairy products, which helps to reduce the absorption of oxalate.
You should really be careful of some artificial sweeteners too – a single teaspoon of stevia has a whopping 42 mg of oxalate, whereas a single teaspoon of regular sugar has 0.
Soy flour and other soy foods should be avoided when focusing on a healthy and low oxalate diet. Many seek soy products as a healthy substitute for a variety of the unhealthier foods they enjoy. What people don’t know is that these soy products contain very high amounts of oxalate and phytate. Similar to oxalate, phytate causes calcium kidney stones to form.
Soy flour, veggie soybeans, soy nuts, tempeh and soy nut butter all yield an average of over 10 mg of oxalate per serving and a high level of phytate, whereas other soy products like tofu and soy milk have what is considered a low oxalate level at less than 10 mg. Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the amount of oxalate and phytate in certain foods. In most instances, the more oxalate a food has, the more phytate it has as well.