Leafy greens and other plant foods are very popular among health-conscious. Many of these foods contain an antinutrient called oxalate (oxalic acid).
This article is about oxalate and its health effects.
What is Oxalate?
Oxalic acid is an organic compound found in many plants. These include vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, cocoa, nuts, and seeds. In plants, it’s usually bound to minerals, forming oxalate. Our body can produce oxalate on its own or obtain it from foods. Vitamin C can also be converted into oxalate when it is metabolized.
Oxalate can bind minerals to form compounds, including calcium oxalate and iron oxalate. This occurs in the colon, but can also take place in the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. For most people, these compounds are then eliminated in urine. However, for sensitive people, high-oxalate diets have been linked to an increased risk of kidney stones.
Oxalate May Contribute to Kidney Stones:
Normally, calcium and small amounts of oxalate are present in the urinary tract at the same time, but they remain dissolved and cause no problems.
However, sometimes they bind to form crystals. In some people, these crystals can lead to the formation of stones, when oxalate is high and urine volume is low.
Small stones often don’t cause any problems, but when a stone is large, It can cause severe pain, nausea, and blood in the urine as they move through the urinary tract.
Many foods that contain oxalates are delicious and provide many health benefits and avoiding them is not necessary for most people.
Healthy people trying to stay healthy do not need to avoid nutrient-dense foods just because they are high in oxalates and it is simply not a nutrient of concern for most people.