Low Oxalate Nuts & Seeds

Nuts & seeds are often taboo on a low oxalate, kidney stone friendly diet. This is probably because nuts and seeds are notorious for being high in oxalate. But, there are huge differences in oxalate between different nuts and seeds. If done correctly, nuts and seeds can be a part of a healthy low oxalate diet!

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Who Needs Low Oxalate Nuts?

Before we jump into which nuts and seeds are low in oxalate, it is important to know who needs to avoid high oxalate nuts and seeds.

Oxalate is most known for it’s role in kidney stones. However, not everyone with kidney stones needs to avoid oxalate. It is important to work with your doctor to figure out what kind of kidney stones you have. If you have a kidney stone other than calcium oxalate, avoiding oxalate will not reduce your risk of kidney stones.

If you were not able to have your kidney stone analyzed, a 24-hour urine test will tell you what kind of stones you are most likely to make. The test will also tell you what your kidney stone urine risk factors are.

Even for the same kind of kidney stone, urine risk factors can be different. For example, too much calcium in urine is the most common risk factor for calcium oxalate kidney stones. Other urine risk factors are high urine oxalate, low urine pH, low urine citrate and high urine uric acid. (1) You can target your specific risk factors with nutrition!

If you have high urine oxalate, it is important to follow a low oxalate diet, including low oxalate nuts. (2)

Remember that fluid, sodium, protein, calcium and healthy diet patterns all play very important roles in kidney stone prevention too! (1)

Why Eat Low Oxalate Nuts & Seeds?

Heart Health

Perhaps the biggest benefit of nuts and seeds is heart health! Nuts and seeds are a great source of heart healthy polyunsaturated, omega-3 and omega-6 fats. People who eat more nuts are less likely to have heart disease and high cholesterol. (3)

Fiber

Low oxalate nuts and seeds can be an important source of fiber. Eating enough fiber can be tough! Especially on a strict low oxalate diet. Adding healthy low oxalate nuts and seeds to your diet will help you get enough fiber. Women should eat 25 grams of fiber each day. Men should aim for 38 grams. (4) One ounce of pecans has about 3 grams of fiber. (5)

Fiber is most known for its benefit for bowel health. Eating enough fiber keeps you regular! Fiber can also help ward off heart disease and diabetes. (6)

Healthy Plant Protein

“Plant based” eating has become quite trendy in recent years – for good reason! Eating more plants like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds is protective against chronic disease.

In light of the “plant based” movement, products such as Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger have taken off. Although these meat substitutes can be a healthy option on occasion, they tend to be very high in salt. If you have Chronic Kidney Disease, phosphorus additives may also be a concern.

If you are trying to cut back on meat, it is better to get protein from natural sources, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. Low oxalate nuts and seeds are a great source of plant based protein!

Brain Health

Nuts may also help protect your brain! Nuts are an important part of a Mediterranean diet pattern, which is associated with slower cognitive decline and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (7) In fact, nuts are a critical part of the “MIND” diet, which was created to target cognitive function and to prevent Alzheimer’s. The “MIND” diet has been proven to do just that! (8)

Low Oxalate Nuts

Coconut

0mg oxalate per ounce

Coconut comes in at the lowest oxalate amount – zero! However, the fat in coconut is not ideal. Coconut is very high in saturated fat, which is associated with worse heart health and is not endorsed by the American Heart Association.(9) Also, be careful of extra sugar in shredded coconut and coconut milk.

However, coconut is a great source of fiber! Enjoy coconut in smaller amounts and mix in other low oxalate nuts to keep your heart healthy!

picture of halved coconut, a low oxalate nut
Coconut is a very low oxalate nut

Macadamia Nuts

12mg oxalate per ounce

Macadamia nuts* are delicious in more than cookies! Macadamia nuts are a great low oxalate nut choice.

Pecans

10mg oxalate per ounce

Who doesn’t love pecans!? Sprinkle some pecans* on your salad or in oatmeal to add some fiber and healthy plant protein.

Pistachios

14mg oxalate per ounce

The perfect snack! Pistachios* are a great option for a low oxalate diet. They also happen to be one of the lowest calorie nuts.

picture of pistachios, a low oxalate nut
Pistachios are a low oxalate nut with only 14mg per 1/4 cup

Walnuts

8mg oxalate per ounce

Walnuts* are packed with heart healthy polyunsaturated fat, making them a great option for your heart!

Low Oxalate Seeds

Flax Seeds

2mg oxalate per 2 tablespoons, ground

Flax seeds* pack 2 grams of fiber per tablespoon. They are also a good source of heart healthy omega-3 fats. Make sure to use ground flax seed, to be able to take full advantage of their benefits!

If you really like flax seeds, try Flackers*, a low oxalate cracker made from just flax seed, spices and a little salt!

Hemp seeds

3mg oxalate per 2 tablespoons

Hemp seeds* (or, hemp hearts) add a great crunch to almost anything! Sprinkle them on yogurt, salads or oatmeal.

Pumpkin Seeds

5mg oxalate per 1/4 cup

Pumpkin seeds* (or “pepitas”) are more than a treat in the fall! You can find pumpkin seeds year round. Add them to salads, oatmeal, yogurt or make your own low oxalate trail mix!

picture of a piece of pumpkin with pumpkin seeds scattered next to it
Pumpkin seeds only have 5mg of oxalate per 1/4 cup

Sunflower Seeds

3mg oxalate per 1/4 cup

Sunflower seeds* are delicious on salads for a nutty flavor and crunch. Be careful to avoid salted and flavored sunflower seeds. Sunbutter* is made from sunflower seeds and is a tasty, lower oxalate alternative to peanut butter.

Watermelon Seeds

5mg oxalate per 1/4 cup

These can be harder to find, but watermelon seeds are another low oxalate seed.

High Oxalate Nuts & Seeds

On the flip side, there are some nuts and seeds that are very high in oxalate. If you have high urine oxalate, it is best to avoid these nuts and seeds. Or, eat them only on occasion!

  • Almonds (122mg oxalate per ounce) – don’t forget almond butter, flour and milk are high in oxalate too!
  • Brazil nuts (137mg oxalate per ounce)
  • Cashews (49mg oxalate per ounce)
  • Hazelnuts (63mg oxalate per ounce)
  • Pine nuts (56mg oxalate per ounce)
  • Chia seeds (45mg oxalate per 2 tablespoons)
  • Sesame seeds (126mg oxalate per 2 tablespoons)

Advice for Eating Low Oxalate Nuts & Seeds

Watch Portion Size

Portion size is important to help control how much oxalate you eat. Even low oxalate nuts and seeds can add up!

A portion of nuts is 1 ounce, or about 1/4 cup of whole, shelled nuts. A portion of seeds is about 2 tablespoons for smaller seeds (like hemp or flax seeds), or a 1/4 cup for larger seeds (like sunflower or pumpkin seeds).

picture of a hand with a small handful of nuts on it. A serving of nuts is 1/4 cup, or a small handful

Choose Unsalted Low Oxalate Nuts!

Make sure to find unsalted or “lightly salted” nuts and seeds. Sodium plays a big role in kidney stones. Most people should limit sodium to 1,500-2,300mg per day to prevent kidney stones.

Happy Eating!

Melanie

114 thoughts on “Low Oxalate Nuts & Seeds”

  1. You have walnuts listed as only having 8 mg of oxalates, but other sources claim it’s much higher. My urologist said they have 74 mgs of oxalates in 3.5 ounces.

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      There is a ton of misinformation out there about how much oxalate is in different foods – even from reputable sources. The Harvard list is largely considered to be one of the most accurate, which I base my information on whenever possible. You can find my list on my resources page.

  2. Hi Melanie, I have 60% calcium oxalate mono hydrate; 20% calcium oxylate dihydrate and 20% calcium phosphate stones. I have not had a 24 hour urine analysis. I have the Harvard list of oxalates and I have been trying to be careful with that in selecting foods as well as trying to watch the sodium and sugar most of which is just in foods not because I add it. I had been using lite salt which is Salt and potassium chloride in my cooking. Now that I am reading, I don’t know that I should even use that! I have been drinking milk with each meal to try and get my calcium and to remove any oxalates that might slip in. I also have osteoporosis and when I went into the hospital with sepsis this summer, one of the doctors that was seeing me came in angry at me because I was taking a calcium supplement and vitamin D. I was just following doctors orders for my bone health. Now I have quit taking the calcium supplement and the vitamin D and I’m just drinking three glasses of milk a day but I am worried about my bone health and also the milk is going to put weight on me I think. Can you give any advice? I’ve been reading my head off trying to unravel all the confusion as there are many things that play into the building of these stones. When I was hungry and didn’t have time to eat I used to go grab a bag of chips… I have quit that. Salt Has always been more satisfying to me than sweet but I do realize I need to curtail that. Thanks for any help you can give!

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      Hi Connie! Thanks for the comment. I can’t give you advice without working more with you individually. I help people know exactly how to manage that calcium supplement kidney stone/osteoporosis conundrum and so much more in my course, Kidney Stone Nutrition School. I will say that milk will not necessarily change your body size. Also, I would really push for that 24 hour urine test. Without it, you (and your doctors!) are truly just guessing as to what will prevent more stones in the future. Here are some tips for asking your doctor for that test!

  3. Melanie,

    I consume a daily amount of pecans, strawberries, organic cashews, grapes, pineapples and blueberries. I have kidney stones and have already had one removal procedure. I have now viewed several sites that suggest all these items are fine for my condition. But my doctor and others have shown me lists that say strawberries and cashews are bad. What’s the truth? Thanks.

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      The Harvard oxalate list is generally the gold standard for oxalate content. This is is the resource I use for all of my content. Unfortunately, there is a TON of oxalate misinformation, even from doctors offices floating around.

      1. Hi Melanie, may I know where I can find the list? I searched “oxalate” on the HSPH’s website, but I could not find a list of oxalate content of foods.

        1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

          Their list is hard to find – and I also don’t like to look at it directly because the portion sizes aren’t standardized (clearly they didn’t consult dietitians when making it!). I’ve taken that list, standardized the portion sizes and made it a bit more user friendly. You can find that on my resources page!

  4. Wow! excited to know the facts-really ! one can have small doses of the right beans and nuts, not being deprived and reaping health benefits. Thanks so much ,Liz

  5. Mary Ann Baker

    I am confused because my doctor gave me a list of foods that says to avoid foods that have more than 10 mg of oxalate per serving. But then you’re saying low oxalate nuts are 14 mg per serving how is it that I can eat those Foods that you have listed? The only seed I am eating currently is pepitas which I found in reading an article about celiac disease and how similar a low oxalate diet is to a Celiac disease diet thought I was glad to see that I could eat pepitas.

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      There isn’t an official definition of a “low oxalate food”, so foods can easily come up differently on different lists. There is also a TON of incorrect oxalate information out there. I utilize the Harvard oxalate list, which is generally considered to be one of the most accurate. Hope that helps!

  6. Hi Melanie,

    Thank you for this very informative website. I currently have calcium oxalate stones. I enjoy both black and white tahini. I heard that the oxalates content of sesame seeds are mainly in the form of insoluble calcium oxalate in the seed husk. If that’s the case, are hulled sesame seeds considered low-oxalate foods? Second, can insoluble calcium oxalate potentially cause urinary stones? I thought only soluble oxalates can contribute to calcium oxalate stones. Lastly, will boiling hazelnuts for 5 minutes before roasting turn these hazelnuts into low-oxalate ones?

    Thank you.

    1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

      Hi Bob! There is no official definition of a “low oxalate food”. So, I can’t really say if sesame seeds will contribute to kidney stones. The answer would also be completely different for each person. Most people with stones do not need to limit how much oxalate they eat. Technically, only the soluble oxalate would end up in urine – however, the research isn’t advanced enough for us to make this distinction. Boiling any food will reduce oxalate content somewhat, but it is difficult to know how much. Please know that healthy eating for calcium oxalate stones is MUCH more than oxalate. Oxalate is the least of my concerns for most people I work with I really hate for people to waste their time and energy stressing over oxalate this much!

      1. Great info. However, If we don’t need to consider limiting oxalates to help reduce contribution to kidney stones, then why is this information even provided about high and low oxalate nuts and foods? And why do doctors tell people with chronic kidney stones to limit this intake?

        1. Melanie Betz MS, RD, CSR, CSG

          Wonderful question! I provide this information because no matter HOW MUCH I scream from the top of the rooftops about how relatively unimportant oxalate is, people ask me unrelenting questions about low oxalate foods. So, I offer these articles and try to make it very clear in them that there are many other things you can do to prevent stones.
          Unfortunately, many doctors do still recommend highly restrictive low oxalate diets, despite this lack of research and the guidelines to only recommend restricting oxalate for people with high urine oxalate on a 24 hour urine test. Old habits die hard. Another example of this is that I consistently get people telling me their doctor told them to limit calcium for calcium oxalate stones, despite the fact that this is INCREDIBLY outdated advice and is harmful for most calcium stone formers. Doctors mean well, but most doctors actually have NO nutrition training, which is where Registered Dietitians come in!

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