Yes! Low oxalate greens do exist. Unfortunately, many people are given general advice to “avoid all green vegetables” on a low oxalate diet. But, this is just simply lazy and false information. There are plenty of low oxalate greens that can (and should!) be eaten on a healthy low oxalate diet.
Who Needs Low Oxalate Greens?
I always like to add this (strong!) disclaimer to all of my information about low oxalate foods. Not everyone with kidney stones needs a low oxalate diet. In fact, not even everyone with oxalate kidney stones needs a low oxalate diet.
Only people with high urine oxalate need to follow a low oxalate diet. Hint: the most common cause of calcium oxalate stones is high urine calcium, not high urine oxalate.
In fact, the American Urological Association recommends that people with high urine oxalate limit how much oxalate they eat. (1) A 24 hour urine test is the only way to know if your urine oxalate is high.
If you do need a low oxalate diet, then choosing low oxalate greens is a key part of healthy eating for you!
It is very important to know that oxalate is only a piece of the puzzle. Learn more about all aspects of your diet that can impact calcium oxalate kidney stones.
High Oxalate Greens
Honestly, the list of high oxalate greens is much shorter than the list of low oxalate greens. However, these high oxalate greens are very high in oxalate. So, it is important to know about them if you need a low oxalate diet.
For example, raw spinach has around 656mg oxalate per cup. This is more than 40x higher than most other vegetables.
High oxalate greens:
- Spinach (656mg oxalate per 1 cup, raw)
- Chard (350mg oxalate per 1 cup, raw)
What Is a Low Oxalate Green?
There is no official definition of a low oxalate green. In fact, there is no definition or cut-off for what a low oxalate food is.
This is complicated by the fact that there isn’t an official definition of what a “low oxalate diet” is either. There isn’t an official amount of oxalate you should eat per day for a low oxalate diet. Instead, the amount of oxalate that is right for you should be individualized to your 24-hour urine results. Ideally, by a Registered Dietitian who takes the amount of calcium and your other kidney stone risk factors into account.
For most people with high urine oxalate, I recommend an oxalate amount of around 100mg per day. So, I used a definition for low oxalate greens to be any green with 10mg or less of oxalate per serving.
Top 10 Low Oxalate Greens
Here is the good stuff! These are my favorite low oxalate greens for people who have high urine oxalate.
0mg oxalate per 1 cup
Probably my favorite low oxalate green, arugula is tasty in salads or as a topping for pizza and flatbreads. It is one of my go-to toppings for avocado toast.
I even love to sauté arugula for about 1 minute to wilt it just a bit and mix it into scrambled eggs and omelets.
0mg oxalate per 1 cup
Classic and crunchy! I love to mix some romaine lettuce into my salads for that crunch. It is the base of my Tomato & Mozzarella Salad!
0mg oxalate per 1 cup
Iceberg lettuce gets a bad rap for having no nutrition. But, I beg to differ. It is a great source of fiber and water (which just happens to be critical for kidney stone prevention).
Plus, it is very low in oxalate!
2mg oxalate per 1 cup
Yep! Kale is surprisingly low in oxalate. Kale is a great low oxalate green substitute for spinach in salads and other recipes.
0mg oxalate per 1 cup
All kinds of cabbage are low in oxalate. Savoy, Napa and purple cabbage are all low oxalate.
I think cabbage is one of the most under-rated vegetables. It is just so versatile! Sautéed cabbage is an excellent side dish for pretty much any entrée. Also, who doesn’t love a crunchy cabbage slaw on top of fish tacos?
Mustard, Turnip and Collard Greens
4-10mg oxalate per 1 cup
Yet another surprising low oxalate green, greens such as mustard, turnip and collard greens are a great option!
Check out this lower sodium traditional Southern Collard Greens recipe! Or, you can eat greens raw like this Mustard Greens Salad with Apples and Dill. Yum!
1mg oxalate per 1 cup
Bok choy is a great way to mix up your veggies. Chop it up and mix it into your favorite stir fry.
Or, Bok choy is a great low oxalate side dish. This Lemon Garlic Sautéed Bok Choy is delightfully tasty and easy!
0mg oxalate per 1 cup
Watercress is another lesser utilized low oxalate green – coming in at ZERO oxalate.
Watercress is delicious raw in salads or cooked! Give this Gingered Watercress a try.
5g oxalate per 1 cup
Butter lettuce is another low oxalate green to add to your rotation. It adds a bright green color and a soft (buttery, if you will!) texture to salads.
0mg oxalate per 1 cup
Endive is our last low oxalate green. It is delicious cooked (try this Braised Endive) or raw.
This low oxalate green makes adorable bite-sized appetizers. Stuff endive with a tasty filling like blue cheese and apples!
Other Low Oxalate Green Vegetables
Other than low oxalate greens, there are plenty of other green vegetables you can enjoy on a low oxalate diet!
Here are some of my favorites:
All oxalate amounts based on 1 cup raw vegetable, unless otherwise specified
- Green Peas (1 mg)
- Zucchini (1mg)
- Green Onions (0.5mg per 2 stalks)
- Broccoli (2mg)
- Celery (5mg)
- Asparagus (6mg per 4 spears)
- Green Bell Peppers (10mg)
- Brussels Sprouts (4mg)
- Cucumbers (2mg)
65 thoughts on “The Best Low Oxalate Greens”
Why are some greens, such as spinach so much higher in oxalates than other greens such as romaine lettuce? I know it probably has something to do with the soil, but don’t they all grow in the same kind of soil? Nobody has been able to answer this question. I hope you can. Thanks.
It just is the nutritional content of the green! Just the way they are made.
Thanks for your informative site with references. With so many contradictory information in high-oxalate foods I’m very glad I found your site. A quick question in greens: do you have information regarding Artichoke’s oxalate content? Are artichokes a high/med/low oxalate green?
Artichokes are generally on the lower side!
THANK YOU Melanie for posting this article!! I keep seeing the same lame old lists cut-and-pasted in different places. I really appreciate your research in putting together this valuable info and refuting some of the alarmism out there about oxalates. I hate the thought of people are being scared away from eating highly nutrient dense plant based foods that provide valuable fiber, polyphenols, lutein etc.. Harm mitigation strategies (e.g. eating some veggies cooked, eating calcium-rich foods to binds the oxalate, etc.) rather than complete avoidance is the way to go.
More on mitigation: it turns out that B6 deficiency (and to a lesser degree B1 and A) can drive up oxalates, so getting those tested may be helpful: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2369074/. It is known that consumption of citrate (from citrus fruits) helps break down oxalates, but vinegar might as well: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35852714/
Yes – B6 is involved in the oxalate metabolism in the liver. However, B6 deficiency is almost nonexistent in healthy people in developed countries. Be careful with getting your B6 levels tested, serum levels are often not the best way to determine nutrient deficiency. And B6 supplementation studies have not shown benefit in humans for stone prevention. Similarly, no large studies in humans have found benefit of the consumption of vinegar for stones.
Is the oxalate content of butter lettuce 5 grams?! or 5 mg in a cup?
5mg oxalate per cup butter lettuce
Many of these low oxalate greens are also very high in nitrates (note: not nitrites!), particularly arugula, and nitrates are supposed to improve vaso-elasticity and cardiac health. Do you have a reputable link I can access that lists accurate, trusted nitrate levels in servings of various vegetables? My googling returned mostly questionable sites.
Hi John! I don’t have a good source for that. I’d recommend focusing on eating a variety of green leafy greens (as well as ALL vegetables) to improve heart health. I don’t know of a “goal” to recommend in terms of the amount of nitrates you want to eat. I’m all for making nutrition as simple as possible and the LAST thing we need is another number to count or worry about!
Yeah, you could be right. But lately (well for the past 5 years at least!) I’ve been looking for that magical nutritional component or components that I might be lacking as the cause of all my ills. I do eat what anyone would call a very varied vegan diet, but my issues have not resolved, or even improved at all really. So I remain somewhat mystified about why my – for all reasonable interpretations – ideal diet isn’t helping me.
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, try a carnivore diet!!
A carnivore diet is actually VERY problematic for kidney stones. Excess animal protein can actually increase oxalate, urine acid and urine calcium. I touch on this in this article.
Hi John: Make sure to have your nutrient levels tested by your doctor. Zinc & Omega-3’s are pretty scarce in a vegan diet. Definitely have your B Vitamins checked, too. One example: Thiamine/ B1. A simple blood test is not accurate, so ask for the more accurate Erythrocyte Transketolase test. Several mitochondrial enzymes are thiamine-dependent; they need thiamine to convert carbs into energy (ATP). B1 deficiency has a stunningly wide array of symptoms because the brain, which contains the highest density of (thiamine-dependent) mitochondria in the body, governs the heartbeat, vasodilation, nerve conduction, muscle strength and movement, acid balance, GI motility, tears, sweating, breathing, mood, cognition and much much more. In summary, the brain runs everything, and the brain’s many mitochondria depend on thiamine (combined with magnesium as its cofactor). All the B vitamins work in synergy, too. Your folate (B9) and magnesium should be pretty good if you eat a lot of veggies, beans & greens 🙂
FYI – B1 deficiency is incredibly uncommon in developed countries.
Although B1 deficiency is thought to be only found in alcoholics or starving individuals, high-calorie malnutrition is common today. Our modern diets are especially carbohydrate-rich, and thiamine requirements depend on carbohydrate intake: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11582856/
In his long career at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Derrick Lonsdale found some brain disease and dysautonomia to be responsive to thiamine therapy, Even in patients testing in the “normal range”: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8533683/ (He wrote a book called “Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia, and High Calorie Malnutrition”.)
Likewise, the published papers of Dr. Antonio Costantini include videos showing dramatic improvements w/ thiamine therapy in patients with movement disorders (tremors, ataxia etc.). (I have no affiliation with either doctor.)
Hi. Thank you for your list. My kidneys are fine but I do stay away from spinach, namely, because ridiculously high amounts of oxalate will cause me to have a seizure. That is not information learned from any neurologist!
Interesting – I don’t know of any research that shows higher oxalate foods can cause seizures. Can you share a resource that lead you to this conclusion?
here’s one blog on it
Hi Lynn – thank you for sharing. This blog is written by someone with essentially no nutrition training other than a “certificate” and includes only 3 scientific references. None of these references are relevant to the question: “does a low oxalate diet reduce seizures” in the least.
Hi Melanie, you wrote on top that only people with high urine oxalate need a low oxalate diet. Unfortunately, that’s not quite right. E.g. I have major problems with high histamine levels and oxalates drastically bring up histamines levels. Very bad idea. I really appreciate your list of low oxalate greens etc. Thank you for that.
I’m glad you found my list helpful! Could you share some research to show that a low oxalate diet helps with any of these issues?
References bottom of pg.
This references are all either cell or animal studies, or do not show that a low oxalate diet will help with any of the conditions. This is an article I wrote to help people understand how to critically review nutrition scientific studies.
I think Melanie was referring to stone formation with this article though.🙂 of course if oxylates are raising histimine levels then you would benefit from low to no oxylates for that condition as well but it is kinda difficult cuz most veggies have some and your body also makes it’s own oxlates as well.
My husband wants me to be extreme with my CKD diet not eating any salad unless it’s ingredients are zero oxalates. (My stones are calcium oxalate crystals) being a nurse I am more at ease having greens in my salads that are 0 – 3 per serving but he is some-what severe. We buy iceberg as our base for our salad and then add darker greens to make it look more appealing. Our big box store has spinach in it though which is high in oxalates so we’ve decided to hand pick our darker greens at our local store.
Hi Susan! I’d be very careful with trying to nearly completely eliminate oxalate from your diet. If you go too far, a low oxalate diet is actually very unhealthy. Here is a recent IG post I wrote about this. I also encourage everyone to make sure high urine oxalate is really the cause of their calcium oxalate stones (for most people, oxalate isn’t the cause!). Only a 24-hour urine test will give you this insight. Just my 2 cents! Let me know if you ever want my help figuring out what dietary changes you can make to prevent stones based on your lab results!
Thank you , for your wonderful advice. My stone was identified as calcium oxalate. I had my very first one seven years ago. My urologist removed it by lithotripsy. I have visits regularly. He recently saw a small one, I have no pain , Thank God. My last one was painful. I am trying everything , lemon water to ACV, a new herb out Chianca Piedra. Lots of water and diet. Avoid high oxalate foods, low sodium, less animal protein, incorporate Milk, yogurt, cheese, when eating oxalate foods. I am always educating myself in regards to this issue. God bless you , for your support. Sincerely Susan p.s. I will find out about high urine oxalate. He did test the stone I had.
You are so welcome!!
Hi, I have rheumatoid arthritis and was recently diagnosed with sarcoidosis in the chest and nodules in the lungs. My elbows and knuckles have been getting nodules. I have been making juices with spinach, kales, watercress, lemon, green apple, pineapple, fresh turmeric and fresh ginger. I am now wondering if the juice is too high in oxalates and if that could be causing some of my problems.
Hi Nina! There isn’t good research that shows limiting oxalate helps with rheumatoid arthritis. In rare conditions, oxalate can build up in joints and cause issues – but this is in extreme cases. If you are concerned, you could always ask your doctor for a 24-hour urine test!
If you have Oxalate issues, Spinach is to be completely avoided.
This really depends on your 24-hour urine test results. If your urine oxalate isn’t high, then removing otherwise healthy foods (like spinach!) won’t do much for stone prevention. Everyone is different!
Hi, I know you posted this a while ago but I hope you get this message, I found from personal experience of something similar, starchy/carb heavy foods make it worse, I cut down on potato, crisps, lowered salt intake, and cut down on fizzy drinks. Also increased water intake. Fried foods seemed to make it worse too. Be mindful of sugar intake. Its not a proven fact that any of this works and this isnt medical advice, I’m just telling you what worked for me. Hope you feel better.
By the way for stones, I was told a dash of fresh lemon in water does wonders, how true it is I do not know but feel free to look into it and let me know
Hi Nina, yes for sure oxalate can build up in your joints and elsewhere in your body causing problems. I recommend the forum ‘Trying Low Oxalate’ which is an excellent source of education on the topic and very interesting,
There is no data to suggest that a low oxalate diet helps people with oxalate arthritis – which is actually a very rare condition. The vast majority of the claims that are discussed in groups like “Trying Low Oxalate” are not supported by data and the advice given there is honestly oftentimes harmful. Please be careful about where you get nutrition information from. I hate for people to follow super restrictive diets without a good reason.
Holistic and creative cooks watching kidney stones have difficulty with some foods not on usual oxalate lists. Is there a very comprehensive list ?. Also there are and some healthy spices like turmeric or nutritional yeast that are listed as high oxalate however are only a “condiment” ? yet what is reasonable?
Hi Elizabeth! No doubt a healthy kidney stone diet is different for everyone and MUST be personalized to your 24 hour urine test results. I don’t worry about using spices in cooking one bit. The amount of oxalate you are realistically going to get per portion is minimal. I do worry about some spices in supplement form.
I’m just curious as to why you Worry about some spices in supplement form? I take turmeric with curcumin bioperine daily to help combat inflammation. Should I be concerned?
Supplements are just potentially SUPER concentrated sources of oxalate. IF you have high urine oxalate, I would definitely avoid turmeric supplements.
I need information on low oxalate food and recipes.
Hi Rosa! You’ll find tons of information about oxalate and kidney stones on my site. Honestly, just search of “oxalate” in the search bar and you’ll find a ton of articles. My personal favorite is this one! You can check out my recipes and my eCookbook too!
Hi, my husband and I have been following a plant based diet since Jan 2020, almost two years, he had a quadruple bypass heart surgery, unexpected and without previous heart complications, dr says it was most related to genetics. Anyway, he is doing wonderful, my question is for me, I developed kidney stones actually I have them right now, the pain is so intense I don’t wish it to anyone ever. Im going to the urologist tomorrow and I want to know your opinion regarding a low oxalate diet. I have eaten more raw spinach, tomatoes, nuts, grains and legumes in the past 20 months than ever before in my life. Im so confused and want to know if I need to change my diet or what should I ask my urologist tomorrow. I don’t want to develop kidney stones ever in my life again. Is there a way to know how my stones were form? Tomorrow I hope he can help me get rid of them. Thanks
Hi Areli! Great question! I would definitely ask your urologist for a 24-hour urine test. This is honestly the only way to know what is really causing your stones – and how to target both nutrition and medical interventions to prevent stones. I’d check out this article for some tips for how to interpret that urine test! A low oxalate diet is necessary for some people with kidney stones, but not for everyone. That 24 hour urine test holds the answer if it is necessary! I hope that helps! I’d love to help you figure out what you can do from a nutrition standpoint to prevent more stones!
Thank you I went to the urologist today and I don’t have kidney stones, at the ER las Saturday they told me that that I have a non radiopaque kidney stones but the urologist today said that I have a Ureteropelvic Junction Obstruction ( UPJ) and orden a scan. Any thought about food and drink? My test is schedule in a week and my appointment with him in two weeks.
Of course! Nutrition for kidney stones is completely individualized based on your urine risk factors and 24 hour urine test. There aren’t any nutrition recommendations specific to a UPJ. It sounds like the doctors need to figure out what is going on with a bit more certainty before we can figure out how nutrition fits into treatment!
I had to do the 24 hour urine test because I have osteoporosis. Everything was normal except my oxalates. The number was 57. I always thought I was a healthy eater but I do eat raw spinach, sprouted almond butter, sprouted cashews and cacao daily. I have never had kidney stones. I became very plant based after my breast cancer diagnosis. I will eat wild salmon and chicken as well. I also have a “tea” made with ginger, lemon, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cinnamon and turmeric every morning. I read many of those ingredients are high oxalate. Could really use help with this diet. I don’t eat dairy very often and like green smoothies-kale, cucumber, watercress and spinach and blueberries. I think I will switch out the spinach with arugula. Sorry for rambling, but I just received these results and my doctor cannot see me until August. It is frustrating. Thanks for listening.
Hi Kelly! No worries at all! I know it can be frustrating to put all of this information together. A Registered Dietitian who is familiar with your medical history and current eating habits would be really helpful for you. Doctors are good at being doctors, but dietitians are by far the best people to help you figure out what you can eat. I’d suggest seeing if you can see a RD via your healthcare facility. I also help people understand those urine test results as part of VIP enrollment to Kidney Stone Nutrition School, if you are interested.
Hi Areli – You should never eat spinach raw. If you must consume it – limit the amount and how often you eat it – and eat it cooked. Cooking especially boiling will reduce the oxalate level. Also grains often contain high oxalates. If you just consume grains stick to white rice , wild rice, fonio. Nuts are notoriously high in oxalates but you can enjoy lower oxalates nuts in moderation. Some lower oxalate options are ones like macadamia nuts, pistachios, and seeds like sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Sprouted and/roasted are always best. I don’t have kidney stone issues but whenever I consume high oxalates it causes joint pain for me. It completely goes away when I eliminate or keep my oxalate levels low. As a dancer I feel everything! And as a Life Sciences professional I’ve come to understand how the foods we put in our bodies profoundly affect our biochemistry and health. But everybody’s body is unique and different so you must stay in tune with your body to see what is working for you. Good luck! Kindest, Debbie
I just read your response here in this forum. I am also a dancer. I had double hip replacement in my early 40s after a long professional modern dance career and although I performed at a high level into my 40s, in my 50s I have been suffering and my knees are terrible. I am in daily pain and my inflammation levels high. I am dealing with Hashimotos (which is new) as my thyroid is affected by the systemic inflammation. I eat all the greens, nuts etc that are on the high oxalate lists and in general have been gluten free because if sensitivity for a while. I decided to cut out spinach, kale and almonds for a week and I am having some relief in my knees. I would love to talk to you further. My mom just had a large kidney stone removed and had double knee replacement in her 50s. I am wondering if there is a genetic component here. Thanks!
No Kindney stone issues but I am genetically predisposed to possbile weakness for oxalate issue. I was focusing on these foods you listed (all organic and local organic when possible) but began experiencing Hives on my upper arms ! I noticed information online that those sensitive to oxalate are sometimes also sensitive to salicylates and I discovered that the endive I had been eating everyday or every other day was most likely the main cause. I’ve cut back on plant food.
Do you or anyone else know the salicylate content of these low Oxlate foods?
Hi Martha! I’d be very careful avoiding high oxalate foods (especially plant foods in general) without confirming you need a low oxalate diet. There is no research that anyone other than those with high urine oxalate levels should avoid oxalate. Removing oxalate unnecessarily from your diet can result in a lack of fiber, vitamins, minerals and generally results in dietary patterns that are less healthful. Similarly, I’m not familiar with any research showing the benefits of a low salicylate diet. In addition, I don’t know of a reliable way to assess the salicylate in foods in the first place. Unfortunately, I don’t have this information for you!
This is so helpful. I’m wondering about beet greens. How are they for oxalate content?
Because beets themselves are incredibly high, I’d probably stay away from them if you have high urine oxalate on a 24 hour urine test!
can you give me a view on oxylate content of roast Brussels sprouts?
my husband was diagnosed as suffering from oxylate over production last year- better now thankfully but I am very aware of it still( the elephant in our room) …he recently discovered the roast Brussel sprout- jeees is it tasty BUT is it an oxylate No-No?
Hi Anne! I provide the oxalate content of all of my recipes – check in the Nutrition Facts section right under the ingredients for any of them! Here is my personal favorite Brussels sprouts recipes. They are actually very low in oxalate. Whenever answering questions about oxalate, I always like to point to this article about who benefits from a low oxalate diet too! Also, my accurate oxalate list on my resources page. I find that MOST of the information about oxalate online is incorrect!
Great to read about the use of greens you listed! Have to avoid eggs and dairy, breakfast is struggle happy to have ideas
To start my day out right.
Thank you! This breakfast post might be helpful too!
Thank you for clearing up some of the information about green vegetables. I’ve been suffering calcium oxalate stones 8 years now and I was just given a low oxalate diet to follow. I’m already gluten and lactose intolerant as well as soy free because of allergies due to Hashimoto’s disease. This additional diet took a lot of my go to food sources away . I am truly lost. I was really happy to find you and your help.
Hi Bonnie! Thank you so much for your kind comment. I’m so happy this post was helpful. I’m sure you’ll find LOTS of other useful information!
Also consider The Kidney Stone Diet and take the course with Jill Harris. You will be glad you did. She will answer a lot of your questions. Research Dr Fred Coe from the University of Chicago on Kidney stones also. Wealth of into here. UofChicago.Edu
Hi Terri! Yes! I actually work with Dr. Coe at the University of Chicago. I also have a course, that teaches you how to individualize your diet for kidney stone prevention based on your 24 hour urine results – because kidney stone prevention is not a “one size fits all” approach.
I went to a urologist in Illinois yesterday and was very surprised she had never heard of Dr Coe! Large urology office in a large hospital network, too. Really thought he was known as a leader in the field, so I was shocked.