Just a reminder that most nuts are NOT your friends! Nuts (and many seeds) are very rich sources of oxalate - and oxalate can impact your metabolism in a host of ways. But one of the worst can be your thyroid.
Note that calcium oxalate can turn up in the thyroid as calcifications, and these microcalcifications can be related to a number of thyroid diseases. We may not be finding these microcalcifications because frankly - we aren't looking for them. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31648281/
From the study: "Calcifications were found in 95% of samples using polarised light microscopy, whereas only 12% were described in initial pathological reports." Note that these thyroid samples came from individuals with varying diseases - but the vast majority had calcifications.
Their outputs are generally low to no oxalate as well. We don’t know much about the resulting outputs though if the ruminant is eating a high oxalate diet. But this study has some interesting information. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22548678/
I did also find an old study on oxalate intake and sheep, which clearly showed that damage to the animal was much more than kidney stones, and that oxalate was found in the brains of animals poisoned by oxalate. researchlibrary.agric.wa.gov.au/cgi/viewconten…
A reminder that spinach may be a problem in your diet. While some people seem to consume lots of it and do fine, it is possible that oxalate (which spinach is rich in) could be affecting us in ways we are not looking for. This study is perspective. sciencemadness.org/talk/files.php…
The study is deceptively simple: use a baseline diet for two groups of lab animals; manipulate oxalate such that one group gets turnip greens to supply calcium, and one group gets spinach to supply calcium.
While using spinach to supply calcium might be a surprise to some, spinach does have a lot of calcium. The problem is that the calcium in spinach is bound to oxalate. This study showed that perhaps 35% of it is available to be absorbed. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3183773/
Could healthy vitamin c - taken in large amounts - be part of your issue? From the abstract: "The breakdown of AA is non-enzymatic and results in oxalate formation." pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27002809/
Also from the abstract: "The exact amount of oxalate formed has been difficult to ascertain primarily due to the limited availability of healthy human tissue for such research and the difficulty in measuring AA and its breakdown products."
Here's the problem though: "The breakdown of 60 mg of AA to oxalate could potentially result in the formation of up to 30 mg oxalate per day." So if you are taking 1000mg of vitamin C, you could be potentially forming 500mg of oxalate! (That's a lot.)
Where does oxalate go in the body? Research link here, looking at how "a soluble oxalate-rich diet induces stable stages of CKD in male and female C57BL/6 mice." pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26764204/
Two things here: 1. The oxalate source in the research was the DIET.
This is not genetic hyperoxaluria. In genetic hyperoxaluria, the oxalate is being made by the body. This is also called "endogenous" oxalate production.
2. Oxalate affects the lab animals SYSTEMICALLY. From the abstract: "Within 3 wk, the mice reproducibly develop normochromic anemia, metabolic acidosis, hyperkalemia, FGF23 activation, hyperphosphatemia, and hyperparathyroidism." None of that is good news.
@kauk@practicalbob@BetterLowOx As for what oxalate mobilization (called "dumping") can do to you - the problem is that oxalate drives inflammation. So if you have a location in the body that is prone to inflammation for whatever reason, oxalate can also be contributing to that.
From the abstract: “Calcium oxalate is a major component of renal stones, and its urinary concentration plays an important role in stone formation. Even a small increase in urinary oxalate has a significant impact on calcium oxalate saturation.” pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11071450/
The problem is that this remains true even if the oxalate in your urine originates in the diet - but our bias in diagnosing hyperoxaluria is two fold:
1. Oxalate doesn’t matter unless you have kidney stones
2. Oxalate is only an issue otherwise if you produce it (endogenous).
While primary hyperoxaluria is a serious disease, there is absolutely evidence that we can be sick with oxalate from the diet and in other locations in the body than the kidneys. Here’s one: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26493452/
Number 15 and the final entrant in my Oxalate Clean Fifteen is garlic and the onion family. Most members of the family are low, although a couple are medium oxalate. We normally eat the seed/ root of the plant, but green onions, chive and leek have us enjoying the stems too!
Each garlic clove you add to a dish is a mere 0.3 mg oxalate. So use it ad libitum! (After all, if a recipe specifies only 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, have you really added garlic at all?)
Another favourite of mine is chive. Chives are so low in oxalate, you could have 100g of the green stuff and only add just over 4 mg oxalate to your dish. Chives grow so well, my garden plot comes up with large swaths of it every year and every year, we have to thin it.😉
Number 14 in our Oxalate Clean 15 is watercress. This is a powerhouse of a nutritional green, and often overlooked when we think of greens. It has been traditionally eaten to treat mineral deficiency - and there's a reason why. webmd.com/diet/health-be…
Watercress is an excellent source of three key minerals: calcium, magnesium and potassium. Low in electrolytes (because oxalate has been chelating them)? Why not try some watercress soup? Here's a low carb version with zucchini and watercress. food.com/recipe/watercr…
You don't have to cook it! Watercress can be eaten raw; it's is a wonderful addition to a salad to increase nutrient density. And here's an idea: how about a salad with bacon? But leave out the sugar in the dressing or use monk fruit extract. yummly.com/recipe/Wilted-…
The next entry in the Oxalate Clean 15 (which has had a few hiccups because ... well ... life) is broccoli and the cabbage family. There is so much research on the benefits of this group of veggies - it's hard to know where to begin! But let's start here: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30372361/
Note that while kale is a member of the cabbage family - unless you get Dinosaur (Dino) / Lacinato kale, you have moved back into a high level of oxalate. While not as bad as spinach, chard or beet greens, why not go to another member of this family, like bok choy?
A 1/2 cup serving of steamed broccoli florets will net you about 5 mg oxalate. Like slaw? A 1/2 cup serving of shredded green cabbage is under 2 mg oxalate. Like colour? You can have red/ purple cabbage too: 1/2 cup shredded is under 3 mg oxalate.
Number 12 on the Oxalate Clean Fifteen is eggs. While we've already discussed animal products (meat, dairy & organ meats), eggs are in a class all their own. For nutrient density, high bioavailable protein & healthy fats, yet still inexpensive, eggs need a place on the list.
Each egg is essentially zero oxalate. And how many ways can you use them? I've even recently found a low carb "bread" option that uses eggs and cream cheese. yummly.com/recipe/Low-Car…
Eggs can be as simple as scrambled in a pan, as complex as soufflé. It's a wonderful binder for many baked goods, adding nutrition wherever it goes. And just today, I saw someone who was making thin omelets and then keeping them in the fridge as snacks. Brilliant!
Number 11 in the Oxalate Clean Fifteen is flax seed. (Been working on finishing our list; Twitter messed me up yesterday). Flax seed is very low oxalate, very high fibre + a source of plant-based omega 3's. These seeds have become beloved in the keto world for baked goods.
If you've seen flax seeds used in baking, you may have seen small amounts to help replace eggs. But one of my favourite low carb/ low oxalate bread recipes uses ground flax and egg whites. Check this out! Just 1g net carb & a couple mg oxalate per slice!
Number 10 in our Oxalate Clean Fifteen can be used to up the nutrition in baked goods: it's cricket flour! I remember vividly being on vacation in Mexico & having a chance to eat crickets on my omelet (sauteed with the head & legs). I declined. But the nutrients!
So recently, I bought some. I actually added extra flour to a muffin recipe - about an additional 1/4 cup. It didn't seem to need more liquid. What was fascinating was "nutty" flavour it gave the muffins. It pumped up the nutrients, adding less than 3mg additional oxalate.
While it hasn't exactly caught the North American world by storm, crickets (and other insects) are definitely eaten in other parts of the world. Regardless, I do recommend cricket powder - whatever you think an insect should taste like, you'd be wrong! Definitely "nutty".
Number 9 in our Oxalate Clean Fifteen is Baru nuts. These are a new entry into the market, which is good news to those of us who love nuts (but not oxalate). These beauties are just under 2mg oxalate per ounce, which means you can eat a lot of them.
And you might want to eat lots of them! The taste is a cross between an almond and a peanut (in my opinion). Like a peanut, they are technically part of the legume family. They are a bit higher in carbs, at 9g per ounce. But you do get 7g of protein in your serving as well.
You get a healthy dose of minerals in your ounce serving as well, including 5mg iron, 833mg potassium and 167mg calcium. They may also have anti-inflammatory effects similar to other nuts. nutritionadvance.com/baru-nuts/
Number 8 in our Oxalate Clean Fifteen is the humble cranberry. Known for its therapeutic benefits as a juice for women dealing with UTI, cranberries are very low in oxalate; 1/2 cup of cooked cranberries has less than 1 mg of oxalate but a taste that gets your attention!
You don't have to load cranberries with sugar to eat them; you can sweeten with erythritol or other sugar alternatives to reduse that tart flavour. While dates are a bit higher in oxalate, you could use some of these to help take away cranberry's sting - just watch your amount.
I use brown-sugar style erythritol with my cranberries, and sometimes pair them with lamb. You can also mix cranberries with another fruit (like blueberries) and reduce the overall oxalate in your final dish. Cranberry-apple is great for a "crumble" style dessert.
Number 7 on the Oxalate Clean Fifteen are the squashes with hard skin. Butternut as one of the best options (lowest oxalate squash that's easily available). But there are other great squashes, including Kabocha, Delicata, Spaghetti, Acorn, Carnival and others!
Many squashes are great options if you want to replace sweet potato; texture & colour may vary, but firm-flesh squash should be able to handle most of your sweet potato recipes. I love Kabocha as a sweet potato sub; you could use Hubbard as a medium oxalate option.
And who doesn't like pumpkin? (In North America, pumpkins are the rounded, apple shaped squashes that may be used for pie.) I often buy many types of pumpkins and squashes in the fall, to roast and freeze. I still have squash and pumpkin puree on hand in my freezer!
Number 6 on the Oxalate Clean Fifteen is Bok Choy. After all, you didn't think you wouldn't be able to eat greens, did you? There is good news in this area! Bok choy happens to be a family favourite here; at just over 3 mg oxalate in 100g (3.5 oz) of bok choy, it's a good option.
This also means you can prepare your bok choy however you like - It's low enough that you can steam, roast or eat raw. (It makes a nice salad addition, by the way). Like all cruciferous veggies, you are going to get a variety of nutrients when you eat this veg.
Carbs are low - but that doesn't stop you from getting minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese and selenium). And while we think fruit for vitamin C, a serving of bok choy will get you 35% of your daily value. There's 27% of your vit K too.
Number 5 in the Oxalate Clean Fifteen is liver and other organ meats. While I've mentioned meat and animal products previously, organ meats are in a class all of their own, and the star of the class is liver. (Frankly, in hindsight, not sure why I didn't have this as number 1!)
Liver has so many nutrients: a 3.5 oz (100g) serving of beef liver has over 3000% RDI B12; ~900% RDI Vit A; ~200% RDI B2; 65% RDI B9 (folate); 35% RDI iron for menstruating women; ~1600% RDI copper. You get high quality protein, and low calories (not that I worry about those).
Not a fan of liver's taste? You don't need to eat a lot of it! I will get liver ground at the butchers and add an ounce or less to ground beef. This enriches the nutrients you are getting from any muscle meat. Great way to sneak a little into your family.
Number 4 on the Oxalate Clean Fifteen is cauliflower! While a "white" veggie, cauliflower is a nutrition powerhouse (which surprises many). Surprisingly, 1 cup of raw cauliflower has almost a day's worth (RDI) of vitamin C.
In fact, you get Vitamin K, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, manganese & magnesium in each serving. Not bad for a white veggie! Cauliflower is a darling of the low carb world, where rice (and other high carb grains) are replaced by this relatively inexpensive food.
For each cup of raw cauliflower, you get less than .5 mg of oxalate. Given a recommended oxalate intake of 50 mg by many kidney stone experts, you could eat 100 cups of cauliflower and still not have consumed your recommended limit!
Number 3 on the Oxalate Clean Fifteen is red lentils. Of all the legumes, these are my favourite. High in protein & fibre, they work well because you don't have to soak them (as oxalate is already low); they are fast & easy to cook; pressure cooking makes them low lectin.
Cooked lentils have about 12g protein, over 270 mg potassium, some iron, calcium and folate. Yet, unlike many plant sources of protein, they only have about 1mg oxalate for that 1/2 cup serving. But what is a real plus here is that they are inexpensive and shelf stable.
Need a fast meal? You can have a lentil and rice soup on the table in 30-45 minutes. In combination with white rice, you have a full essential protein complement. To this simple flavour palette, I’ll add some chicken for added protein, with coconut milk for richness.
Number 2 on the Oxalate Clean Fifteen is dairy products. While they seem to have fallen out of favour as vegan alternatives take their place, diary products from milk to yogurt to cheese are all low in oxalate and high in nutrients - as long as the only ingredients are from milk.
According to USDA data, one ounce of a hard cheese will give you about 100 calories, with 7-8 grams of protein, and 8-9 grams of fat depending on the fat percentage. So do note that while we call cheese a protein food, it's not a high percentage of your serving.
You will also have some carbs in most cheese - and for those doing a low carb diet, this can be a complicating factor. For those doing a carnivore style diet, milk products will be the single source of exogenous carbs in your diet.