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What Are the Foods to Avoid with Kidney Stones?

Chard is a high-oxalate vegetable that should be avoided by someone with kidney stones.
A kidney with a kidney stone.
Chocolate should be avoided by people with kidney stones.
Wheat germ should be avoided or eaten in small amounts to mitigate the risk of kidney stones.
Kale should be avoided by those with kidney stones.
People with kidney stones should not eat spinach.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 03 July 2014
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Foods to avoid with kidney stones include anything high in oxalate, a chemical that contributes to the development of stones in the urinary tract. Dark leafy greens are a leading culprit, but numerous other foods including chocolate, tea, and okra can also be high in oxalate. At the same time, it is important to eat a balanced diet, high in calcium, to prevent oxalate absorption, and lots of fluids to keep the urinary tract flushed. Research suggests that a medium protein diet is optimal for people with a history of kidney stones.

High-oxalate foods to avoid include any dark green leafy vegetables like kale, chard, and spinach; chocolates and teas; peanuts; wheat germ; okra; soy; and sweet potatoes. All of these foods should be eaten in small amounts, and it is important to cook them thoroughly to promote the breakdown of any oxalate they contain. Some foods contain lesser amounts of oxalate and should be eaten in moderation but do not need to be completely avoided. These include fresh fruits, celery, and liver.

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While fruits and vegetables rank high on the list of foods to avoid with kidney stones, it is not a good idea to cut them out of the diet completely. Many vegetables, like carrots, are perfectly safe to eat, and fruits can have varying amounts of oxalate; apples and bananas, for example, are good food choices. Fresh fruits and vegetables have a number of benefits, and it is important to keep them in the diet and to maintain variation to avoid getting bored.

Fluids can include water, herbal teas, and juices. Increasing potassium and calcium intake will also help for people with kidney stones. Yogurt, beans, almonds, cheese, and sardines can all be good additions to the diet. The calcium and potassium will bind to the oxalate and limit absorption through the gut. This reduces the amount available for kidney stone formation. Animal protein is not specifically on the list of foods to avoid, but it should be eaten moderately, as higher protein diets appear to have a link with the development of stones.

Patients evaluating a list of foods to avoid with kidney stones may feel overwhelmed by the extent of changes they need to make to their diets. It can help to talk to a nutritionist about the options available. Nutritionists can help patients transition more easily to a healthy kidney stone diet and will offer tips and tricks for addressing food cravings.

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Discuss this Article

lluviaporos
Post 3

@browncoat - I think if you don't already have kidney stones, you shouldn't worry as much about what foods cause kidney stones and more about just being healthy, as you said lots of fluids and lots of calcium as well.

If you do have kidney stones already though, you should ask your doctor what to do, particularly to avoid them again in the future. People often seem to get them more than once and from what I've heard they are horribly painful. Not something for which you'd want a repeat performance.

browncoat
Post 2

@pleonasm - I've heard that too, but I think as long as you drink plenty of water as well, you should be fine.

I think it's unfortunate that dark leafy greens tend to have oxalate as they are one of the healthiest foods you can eat usually. And they often contain some calcium as well. In fact I think they are one of the sources vegans use in order to get enough calcium.

From what I can tell, this is because oxalates are made in the plant's leaves, rather than because spinach, for example, happens to have an especially large amount of oxalates. If you were eating strawberry plant leaves you'd probably get just as much out of those.

Well, I want to avoid foods that cause kidney stones, but I think it's better to just drink lots of water and keep a balanced diet.

pleonasm
Post 1

One thing I was always told is to be careful with powdered milk drinks as they can contribute to kidney stones.

I'm not sure exactly how they do that, and I know that they can also provide calcium which can help with kidney stones.

I imagine the problem might be if they are mixed too richly, without enough water content. I know I tend to try and mix them quite heavily as I like the creamier taste.

I imagine this applies for things like chocolate mixes, where there is usually already milk added to the packet.

I was always told this was a food to avoid for kidney stones, but never by a doctor so for all I know it was just my friends being extra cautious.

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