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What Are Oxalates?

Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds found in almost all plants, and in animals and humans.  Oxalate is also a biproduct of human metabolism just like uric acid. The human diet will always contain some oxalate. However diets focusing on high oxalate foods like animal product, grains, starchy foods, and cruciferous vegetables like kale and spinach can cause short term problems such as digestive issues and breathing difficulties, and long term health problems such as kidney and cardiovascular damage. Sensitive individuals such as those with preexisting lung, kidney or thyroid problems may have to avoid medium oxalate foods as well.  

Immediate symptoms of high oxalate consumption include burning mouth and throat during consumption, digestive upsets including sour stomach, stomach pains, diarrhea, blood in stools, constipation, bloating, gas in its various forms including burping, belching, flatulence, and flatus, breathing and asthma symptoms, mucus production, skin eruptions such as acne, eczema, and canker sores, dandruff, arthritis flare ups, kidney stones and kidney problems, urinary pain and or problems, blood in urine, foul smelling urine, irritation of the genitalia, body odor, and slowed digestion which makes it difficult to eat enough calories during the day.

Long term symptoms and diseases related to high oxalate consumption may include kidney stones and kidney disease, urinary problems, breathing and asthma problems, digestive system irritation and or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), prevention of calcium absorption and assimilation with risk of osteopenia (bone softening), osteoporosis, and jaw, oral, and dental problems, iron deficiency anemia, and other systemic problems such as calcification of tissues and arteries also known as hardening of the arteries and or arteriosclerosis which can lead to heart problems and cerebrovascular accidents and strokes.  Systemic circulation of calcium oxalate crystals can also cause them to be deposited in the visceral organs, bones, cartilage, and synovial fluid of joints resulting in pain, swelling, and arthritis.

 These foods may have 10 or more mg of oxalate per serving and or cause extreme reactions in sensitive individuals and or kidney patients.

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber with skin
  • Beans
  • Beets and beet greens and root
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chicory
  • Collards
  • Dandelion greens
  • Escarole
  • Leeks
  • Okra
  • Olives
  • Parsley
  • Peppers both chili and green
  • Black Pepper along with many other condiments and spices.  
  • Potatoes baked, boiled, fried
  • Rutabaga
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Swiss chard

Problem Fruits in sensitive individuals

  • Rhubarb
  • Dates
  • Pineapple
  • Cranberries
  • Figs
  • Lemon and Orange peels

Other high oxalate foods and products include tea, cocoa and chocolate products, many fruit juices, beer, coffee, soy products, many grains and grain products such as amaranth, buckwheat,  oats and oatmeal, wheat, as well as the offshoots of these products such as pasta, cakes, cookies, and pies.  Many if not most cooked foods are high oxalate foods in part because we use high oxalate foods in our dishes and recipes.  

These foods are usually considered healthy so we are not suggesting that you do not eat them, but rather if you are experiencing any of the symptoms, consider talking with your doctor about the high oxalate foods you may be eating and how many of them should be included in your diet.

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