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Can All Those Non-Starchy Vegetables Give Me Kidney Stones?

spinach-stone

Catherine Britell, M.D.

We love our non-starchy vegetables!  And for most of us, eating ten or more servings of non-starchy vegetables  (concentrating on the dark green ones) per day is the mainstay of a healthy diet.   If you have had kidney stones, however, you’ll need to pay attention to the oxalate contained in the vegetables you eat.  The good news:  this is not difficult, and armed with the right information you can still enjoy plenty of low-oxalate non-starchy vegetables.

People who are overweight or obese need to be aware of the possibility of kidney stones.  Compared with persons at or near ideal body weight (BMI = 21-23), obese men (BMI ≥30) have a 33% greater risk for kidney stone formation, while obese women have a 200% greater risk. ( Taylor EN, Stampfer MJ, Curhan GC. Obesity, weight gain, and the risk of kidney stones. JAMA. 2005;293:455-462)

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

We know that 75% of kidney stones are calcium oxalate stones, and oxalates in the diet can be important causative factors.   So, for someone who has had one or more calcium oxalate kidney stones, the general recommendation is limiting oxalates to 50-60 mg/day.  For these people, getting 8-10 servings of non-starchy vegetables can present a bit of a challenge.  Spinach, chard, beet greens, and many others of those beautiful dark-green non-starchy veggies have large concentrations of oxalates.    Also strawberries and most nuts need to be limited or avoided if you must limit oxalates.

 However, there are many low-oxalate vegetables — asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, iceberg and Romaine lettuce, radishes, mushrooms, onions (yellow and white);,squash (zucchini, acorn, and yellow), red sweet peppers, turnips (root), water chestnuts and bok choi — that we can eat in quantity and still keep our diet low in oxalate.

Here are some oxalate levels in a few common non-starchy and non-sweet fruits and veggies:

  • Beet greens, cooked 1/2 cup — 916
  • Rhubarb, stewed, no sugar 1/2 cup — 860
  • Spinach, cooked 1/2 cup —  750
  • Beets, cooked 1/2 cup — 675
  • Chard, Swiss, leaves cooked 1/2 cup — 660
  • Rhubarb, canned 1/2 cup — 600
  • Spinach, frozen 1/2 cup — 600
  • Beets, pickled 1/2 cup — 500
  • Endive, raw 20 long leaves — 273
  • Cocoa, dry 1/3 cup — 254
  • Dandelion greens, cooked 1/2 cup — 246
  • Okra, cooked 8-9 pods — 146
  • Kale, cooked 1/2 cup — 125
  • Peanuts, raw 1/3 cup (1-3/4 oz.) — 113
  • Turnip greens, cooked 1/2 cup — 110
  • Chocolate, unsweetened 1 ounce — 91
  • Parsnips, diced, cooked 1/2 cup — 81
  • Walnuts, 100grams — 77
  • Collard greens, cooked 1/2 cup — 74
  • Pecans, halves, raw 1/3 cup (1-1/4 oz) — 74
  • Black Tea, leaves (4 mm. infusion) 1 level tsp in 7 oz water —  72
  • Carrots, cooked 1/2 cup — 45
  • Brussels sprouts, cooked 6-8 medium — 37
  • Strawberries, raw 1/2 cup — 35
  • Celery, raw 2 stalks — 34
  • Raspberries, black, raw 1/2 cup — 33
  • Orange, edible portion 1 medium — 24
  • Green beans, cooked 1/2 cup — 23
  • Chives, raw, chopped 1 tablespoon — 19
  • Leeks, raw 1/2 medium — 15
  • Blackberries, raw 1/2 cup — 13
  • Blueberries, raw 1/2 cup — 11
  • Raspberries, red, raw 1/2 cup — 10
  • Broccoli, cooked 1 large stalk — 6
  • Asparagus, 1/2 cup  — 5.2
  • Tomatoes 1 medium raw — 2.0
  • Bok choy  1 cup 1.6 — mg
  • Cauliflower 1/2 cup — 1.0

There are many places on the Web to find out the oxalate content of various veggies and fruits.

The Bottom Line: People who are prone to kidney stones can build a healthy diet around low-oxalate veggies. (i.e., broccoli is your friend!)  Another important dietary consideration for those who develop kidney stones is the need for adequate calcium. (800-1200 mg/day) The Greek yogurt that I love has 200 mg of calcium per serving.  Again, broccoili is our buddy here, with almost as much: 180 mg/serving.  And Bok Choy with a whopping 180 mg/cup.   Celery is also calcium-rich.  

And here’s another sweet morsel:  Green tea can be beneficial in this regard!   It seems that green tea binds to calcium oxalate, creating crystals that break down easily so that they pass out through the urine unnoticed while they are tiny.  So, if you have had kidney stones, enjoy your low-oxalate non-starchy vegetables and perhaps a few cups of brewed green tea every day!  

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

 

Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

Calories In — Calories Out Has Been Proven False and Frustrating

 

  • Intro: Thousands of pages of academic research prove that the three most common fat loss concepts we hear about daily (Calories In – Calories Out, A Calorie Is A Calorie, and Calories Are All That Matter) are at best misleading and at worst wrong. In this post, Jane, Beth, and Sarah show how frustrating the Calories In – Calories Out myth can be.

 

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Meet Jane. Jane weighed 130 pounds on her twenty-first birthday. Fast forward twenty years and three kids later. Jane is now forty-one years old and weighs 150 pounds. According to mythical manual calorie balancing, Jane gained twenty pounds over twenty years because she did not manually balance calories precisely enough. Specifically, she exceeded her calorie quantity quota by about nine and a half calories per day over the past twenty years (9.6 calories x 365 days x 20 years = 70,000 calories = 20 pounds of body fat).

If she had only cut her daily calories by three-fourths of a saltine cracker (nine and a half calories), then she would have avoided gaining any weight even after having three kids and getting twenty years older. False. If that were true then undereating by 100 calories per day would cause people to lose about 100 pounds every ten years. Biology doesn’t work like math.

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” – Vladimir Lenin

Meet Beth. Beth is a thirty-five-year-old, 140-pound woman. Beth has no job, hobbies, family, or friends, so she is able to spend all her time manually balancing calories. Thanks to her hours of free time and careful calorie counting, Beth is able to trim a modest 400 calories out of the diet that has kept her at 140 pounds for the last ten years.

Four hundred calories per day for three years is 438,000 calories. According to the “metabolism is like math” myth, we divide 438,000 by 3,500 (the number of calories in a pound of body fat) and poof, Beth loses 125 pounds of body fat. She started out weighing 140 pounds and weighs fifteen pounds after three years of cutting 400 calories a day.

Simple. But sadly, silly. There may be fifteen pound thirty-five year olds in the fictional fat loss world, but there are not any in the real world.

“[Eating less] causes the condition it is meant to cure. The more that we endure cycles of dieting, the more our bodies become trained to seek out food, slow down vital functions, and conserve built-in energy in the form of body fat.” – Geoffrey Cannon, Author

Finally, meet Sarah. Sarah is a twenty-nine-year-old accountant. To ensure that she accounts for every calorie she eats, Sarah only eats food with those little nutrition facts labels on them. Sarah is happy because she is able to do “fun” accounting every time she eats and thinks she is keeping an accurate count of her calories. Sadly, Sarah’s calorie counting is not nearly as bulletproof as she believes because food labels are at best 90% accurate.

That does not seem like a big deal, but in the fictional fat loss world it is huge. Like any normal person, Sarah eats about a million calories per year. The 10% margin of error of the nutrition facts labels could cause her to massively mess-up her manual calorie balancing. Ten percent times one million calories per year is 100,000 calories per year. In the mythical “metabolism works like math” world, incorrectly balancing her calories by 100,000 calories a year means an extra twenty-eight pounds of body fat per year. So Sarah, who always counts every single calorie she eats, and who manually balances calories more precisely than anyone else in the world, could easily gain 280 pounds over the next decade because of reporting errors on nutrition facts labels?

Fiction.

Jane, Beth, Sarah, you, me, and everyone else who knows the facts of fat loss, does not need to think about eating too much. We need to think about restoring our fat metabolism system’s ability to burn body fat for us automatically by clearing our hormonal clog and lowering our set-point. If we focus on calorie quality and take care of our fat metabolism system, then it will take care of calorie quantity for us. Clear the clog and our body will do automatically what is practically impossible to do manually.

“Since obesity may be better characterized by diet composition [quality] than by energy intake [quantity], successful weight-loss programs should include diet [quality] changes in their regimes.” – researcher W.C. Miller, Indiana University


[i] Weigle DS. Human obesity. Exploding the myths. West J Med. 1990 Oct;153(4):421-8. Review. PubMed PMID: 2244378; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1002573.

[ii] 3500 calories in a pound of fat times twenty pounds is 70,000. 20 years times 365 days is 7300 days. 70000 calories divided by 7300 days is 9.6 calories a day.     &     100 calories x 365 days x 10 years = 365,000 calories / 3500 calories in a pound of fat = 104.3 pounds of fat

[iii] Cannon, Geoffrey. Dieting Makes You Fat: The Scientifically Proven Way to be Slim without Lowering Your Food Intake. Revised edition ed. None: Virgin Books, 2008.

[iv] Urban LE, Dallal GE, Robinson LM, Ausman LM, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. The accuracy of stated energy contents of reduced-energy, commercially prepared foods. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jan;110(1):116-23. PubMed PMID: 20102837; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2838242.    &    Note: “there seemed to be a consistent bias toward underreporting, indicating that the inaccuracy was not random error.”Allison DB, Heshka S, Sepulveda D, Heymsfield SB. Counting calories—caveat emptor. JAMA. 1993 Sep 22-29;270(12):1454-6. PubMed PMID: 8371446.

[v] Friedman JM. A war on obesity, not the obese. Science. 2003 Feb7;299(5608):856-8. PubMed PMID: 12574619.

[vi] Miller WC. Diet composition, energy intake, and nutritional status in relation to obesity in men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991 Mar;23(3):280-4. Review.  PubMed PMID: 2020264.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

Simple Science: How Body Fat Gets Created

With last week’s post talking about calories being more or less Efficient at being stored as body fat, it is worth quickly covering how body fat gets created.

The process of creating new body fat is called lipogenesis (lipo = fat and genesis = creation). And with genesis in mind, in the beginning there was food, and food was classified by its dominant macronutrient.

*Vegetables, fruit, most dairy, beans, and everything else is a carbohydrate. They are not proteins or fats, so what else could they be?

As soon as our body gets its hands on protein, fat, or carbohydrate, it turns them into amino acids, fatty acids, or glucose, respectively.

Once fat is converted to fatty acids, if there are more fatty acids around than we currently need, all of them are sent off to be stored as body fat. The glucose we get from carbohydrates does not work that way. Glucose cannot be stored as body fat without the hormone insulin. And then there are amino acids from protein. Amino acids must first be converted into glucose. Once they become glucose, they need insulin or they cannot be stored as body fat.

Now let’s assume the hormone insulin is making its rounds and we have glucose on its way to fat cells. At that point all remaining glucose is converted into fatty acids and we are one step away from new body fat. During the last step in the process all those fatty acids combine with a glycerol molecule to form triglyceride—aka body fat. This is called esterification and it is not possible without a substance called glycerol-3-phosphate.

Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES

From Food to Body Fat

How is this scientific knowledge useful? Three ways:

  • A calorie is not a calorie, considering that protein is five calorie-burning steps away from body fat—convert into amino acids, convert to glucose, meet up with insulin, transform to fatty acids, and hook up with glycerol-3-phospate—while fat is only two calorie-burning steps away—convert into fatty acids and hook up with glycerol-3-phospate.
  • It is impossible to store glucose as body fat without enough insulin. The more Aggressive a calorie is, the more insulin it triggers. That is one of the reasons we do not like Aggressive calories.
  • No body fat gets stored without glycerol-3-phospate. Guess where we get the most glycerol-3-phospate? InSANE starches and sweets. Carbohydrates are not bad. Non-starchy vegetables are carbohydrates and they are the most SANE foods around. It is just that inSANE carbohydrate from starches and sweets fuel body fat formation.

Put this all together and it gets clearer why eating more—smarter—works while eating less does not. When people eat less, they are still overeating since their metabolism slows down. Additionally, they have plenty of insulin and glycerol-3-phospate thanks to the inSANE low-quality starches and sweets they continue eating. Overeating plus insulin and glycerol-3-phospate means new body fat.

On the other hand, when we eat more—smarter:

  1. We avoid overeating thanks to high-Satiety.
  2. We get calories into our bloodstream slowly and they trigger little insulin thanks to low-Aggression.
  3. We maximize the number of nutrients we get from those calories thanks to high-Nutrition.
  4. We burn a lot of calories during digestion thanks to low-Efficiency.

Eating all this SANE food makes us too full for inSANE starches and sweets. By avoiding starches and sweets, we do not have enough insulin or glycerol-3-phospate to fuel body fat formation. Free from excess insulin and glycerol-3-phospate, we eat more food and store less body fat.


  1. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, James L. Groff, and Sareen S. Gropper
  2. Elliott SS, Keim NL, Stern JS, Teff K, Havel PJ. Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):911-22. Review. PubMed PMID: 12399260.
  3. Havel PJ. Dietary fructose: implications for dysregulation of energy homeostasis and lipid/carbohydrate metabolism. Nutr Rev. 2005 May;63(5):133-57.Review. PubMed PMID: 15971409.
  4. Whitehead, Saffron A.; Nussey, Stephen (2001). Endocrinology: an integrated approach. Oxford: BIOS. pp. 122. ISBN 1-85996-252-1.
Learn the exact foods you must eat if you want to finally lose weight permanently. Click here to download your free Weight Loss Food List, the “Eat More, Lose More” Weight Loss Plan, and the “Slim in 6” Cheat Sheet…CLICK HERE FOR FREE “HOW TO” WEIGHT LOSS GUIDES
Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

Pyramid = Problem and MyPlate = Mistake: A Brief History of Government Dietary Guidelines

  “The thing to keep in mind about the USDA Pyramid is that it comes from the Department of Agriculture, the agency responsible for promoting American agriculture, not from agencies established to monitor and protect our health…. What’s good for some agricultural interests is not necessarily good for the people who eat their products.” – […]

Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

How Humanity Can Get Its SANEity Back

  “We found marked improvement…after advice to follow a Paleolithic [SANE] diet compared with a healthy Western diet…The study adds to the notion that healthy diets based on whole-grain cereals and low-fat dairy products are only the second best choice in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.”– S. Lindeberg, University of Lund How […]

Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

How Many Carbs Should I Eat While Going SANE?

  “Diets should be moderate in carbohydrate, moderate in fat, and protein should contribute 25% to 30% of energy intake.” – D.A. Schoeller, University of Wisconsin-Madison No matter how misinformed they are, people will say you are on a low-carbohydrate diet when they see you taking in a natural balanced amount of carbohydrates. Eating a large […]

Starvation Is NOT Healthy. Stop counting calories & go #SANE w/me at http://SANESolution.com

How to Eat More, Burn Fat, & Boost Health (Part 2 of 2)

  “Consumption of a meal containing [an] identical [quantity of calories] and nutrients can produce markedly different physiological responses…” – D.S. Ludwig, Harvard University Picking up where we left off in the last post…when people see you dropping pounds of body fat while eating more, they will ask what diet you are on. If you […]