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What Are the Best and Worst Foods for Kidney Stones?

Cranberry juice can help reduce water retention.
Kidney stones next to a ruler to show the size.
A kidney with a kidney stone.
Hot dogs are bad for those with kidney stones.
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  • Written By: Ann Olson
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2014
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There are certain food restrictions when it comes to eliminating or preventing kidney stones. What a person may be allowed to eat is dependent on the type of kidney stone he has, the most common types being calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stones. The best foods for kidney stones are those with low sodium and low calcium content, some types of vegetables, and lean meat. The worst foods include most berries, beans, and dark leafy vegetables, among others. There are also food guidelines that can help reduce the risk for developing kidney stones; when it comes to foods for kidney stones, hydration, sodium levels, and oxalate and calcium ratios can help reduce the risk for stone development.

Doctors often recommend a person cut his total sodium intake while on a kidney stone prevention diet. Processed or canned foods are some of the biggest sources of sodium; naturally made foods usually contain the least amount of sodium. For example, a 6 inch (15.2 centimeter) hot dog can contain up to 1,046 milligrams of sodium, which is nearly half of the sodium daily requirement.

The best way to avoid these foods is to simply avoid eating out or purchasing pre-made meals. Sometimes restaurants may add more sodium to enhance the flavor of certain foods or meals, but this can put a person over his daily sodium requirement. Cooking your own meals and avoiding the use of salt are additional ways to lower sodium intake.

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Although it is not an actual food recommendation, hydration also plays a key role when it comes to kidney stones. Water is an inexpensive way to stay hydrated throughout the day; flavored water and orange juice can also help. Not all beverages are good for kidney stones, however, especially if a person has a calcium oxalate stone. Clinical evidence shows that some carbonated beverages, cranberry juice, coffee, and tea contain oxalate, which can increase the risk for developing a stone.

As for specific recommendations, food allowances vary. Good foods for kidney stones caused by oxalate include some vegetables and lean meat, which should be eaten daily to improve overall health. There are a handful of foods that are bad for people prone to kidney stones, however. Peanuts, beans, most berries, grapes, dark leafy vegetables, soy products, and oranges are just some of the foods these people should usually avoid.

If a person has a calcium-specific stone, however, there are more foods that he can eat. The goal here is to limit calcium intake so that the risk for kidney stones is low. Good foods for kidney stones include low-calcium foods and dairy alternatives, such as rice milk, which can be consumed daily. The plus side is that many of these dairy alternatives contain additional nutrients; the down side is that some may contain higher than average sodium levels.

It is important that a person with this type of stone not completely eliminate calcium from his diet, however; calcium is still essential for bone strength and the prevention of osteoporosis, especially for women. Dairy products can be consumed occasionally, as long as they meet the calcium restriction guidelines given by a nutritionist or medical doctor. People with calcium-specific kidney stones can still enjoy off-limit foods, so long as they are consumed in moderation.

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Discuss this Article

anon929807
Post 3

A high calcium diet for stones might sound counter-intuitive, but calcium will bond with the oxalate molecules in the digestive tract to help prevent stone formation in the kidneys.

anon341054
Post 2

Better to drink orange juice instead.

anon333384
Post 1

Will eating a lot of oranges cause kidney stones?

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