The importance of oxalates in food is a controversial topic. The conventional medical understanding is that oxalates in food are relevant only for people with calcium-oxalate kidney stones and are not a source of concern for anyone else. Other authors have pointed out the role of oxalates in contributing to inflammation, chronic pain and, in particular, fibromyalgia.
Oxalates are crystalline compounds used by plants as a defense and to shore up their support structures. Oxalate levels are particularly high in vegetables like Swiss chard, rhubarb and beets but are found to a lesser extent in most commonly eaten vegetables, particularly greens.
This is where the dilemma comes about. We all know that green vegetables are one of the most important foods we can eat. As I have repeatedly said, I eat green vegetables every day for flavor, variety and their many health benefits. But, I don’t eat green smoothies, green juices or otherwise try to have an abnormally high intake of greens. Part of the reason for this is that doing so would expose me to higher oxalate levels and the attendant risk of inflammatory reactions.
They add flavor and beneficial fiber to your daily diet, but they should be consumed in fairly small amounts, not the heaping kale salads, unfortunately, touted as a health food these days.
In order to meet this need of a daily dose of greens without a dramatic increase in oxalate consumption we at Dr. Cowan’s Garden looked into which greens are naturally lowest in oxalate, yet still, retain all of the usual nutritional profile of healthy greens. This was the inspiration of our Low-Oxalate Greens Powder. This blend contains red kale (a particularly nutritious form of kale), lacinato kale, collard greens and mustard greens. This mixture was tested for oxalate content and was found to have “low to medium” oxalate content, which is a good result for a greens blend.
Keep the daily dose modest, probably not more than 1 teaspoon a day, and you will enjoy the health benefits of a daily serving of green vegetables without the risk of high oxalate exposure.
About a dozen years ago I heard a farmer present the results of his work on his decades-old biodynamic farm in Australia. He showed slides of the massive pit they had dug in which they laid dozens of cow horns filled with manure, which were used to “enliven” the fields. He shared how they made the biodynamic preparations that are at the heart of the biodynamic process. These preps stimulated calcium uptake by the plants, as well as root and fruit development, and others strengthened the plants against various diseases. But the main thing that stuck with me were the slides he showed of an insect on his farm that had been declared extinct a decade earlier.