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Low Oxalate Greens [Best For Your Bones]

You want to eat the right food to provide calcium for your bones, but you’ve heard oxalate interferes with calcium absorption. And spinach is one of the worst foods for oxalate.

Are all leafy greens off limits as a good source of calcium? 

Read on to find out which leafy greens are low oxalate and high calcium, the best for your bones.

What is oxalate and why do we care?

Oxalate is an acidic substance that forms in many plants. It binds to calcium in the gut, creating  a molecule that is too large to absorb. So, any calcium that is bound to oxalate will be (literally) flushed out of your body.

If you are trying to eat enough calcium-rich food to support healthy bones, this can be a problem. You want nutrients to be absorbed, not flushed away.  

One of the most notoriously high-oxalate vegetables is spinach. Spinach is also a great source of calcium, but you don’t absorb much of it due to the oxalate content.

Let’s take a look at some leafy greens that are low in oxalate, and highlight the ones that give you a lot of calcium as an added bonus.

Read more about oxalate and calcium absorption

Which greens are low in oxalate?

These greens have either no or low levels of oxalate, according to the Harvard Oxalate Food List and other research articles (1) (2). Greens that are highlighted in green are also good sources of calcium.

Bok choy
butter lettuce
green and purple cabbage
iceberg lettuce
Mustard greens
Turnip greens

    How do you reduce oxalate in leafy greens?

    The greens above are already very low in oxalate. However, maybe you have a hankering for some spinach, Swiss chard or beet greens, which are high oxalate greens. Or, maybe you are eating a green that you are not sure about.

    You can lower oxalate by cooking your greens in water.

    Oxalate dissolves in water, so boiling and steaming can lower the oxalate content of food (3). Boiling is more effective than steaming, and this method works better when the food is in smaller pieces.

    Roasting, grilling or baking food does not decrease oxalate, and may even cause it to increase.

    Final Thoughts

    Oxalate can decrease the amount of calcium you absorb from foods. Spinach is one of the highest oxalate foods that many people eat. Even though spinach is high in calcium, you don’t absorb much of that calcium because of the oxalate.

    However, there are many leafy greens that are low in oxalate. Some of these are also a good source of calcium. This combination makes them a great choice for stronger bones.

    It can be confusing to try to put together all the puzzle pieces for a bone-healthy diet. Do you need some expert guidance? Just click on the link below to set up a free consult.

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