10 Possible Foods That Cause Kidney Stones

Worried about—and wondering how to prevent—kidney stones? Your diet plays a big role. Watch out for these top foods that cause kidney stones.

foods that cause kidney stones

Beets are one of the most oxalate-rich foods, along with things like spinach, Swiss chard, rhubarb, and more.

© Olga Kriger | Dreamstime

If you’re looking to control kidney stones, it’s important to look to your diet. There are several foods that cause kidney stones. Several foods are known to contribute to their development.

Top Foods That Cause Kidney Stones

  1. Beets
  2. Tea
  3. Spinach
  4. Rhubarb
  5. Animal protein
  6. Nuts
  7. Wheat bran
  8. Too much sodium
  9. Chocolate
  10. Animal protein

What Causes Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones can be caused by a variety of factors, but in about 75 percent of cases, they are composed of calcium oxalate. When we eat oxalate, which is present in many foods, it can bind to calcium in our body.[1]

When the concentration of calcium oxalate in the body becomes higher than normal, and our kidneys can’t excrete it fast enough, it starts to crystallize. Eventually, kidney stones can form.

One of the major risk factors for kidney stone formation is high intake of oxalate in the diet. Researchers recommend an intake of 40 to 50 mg per day of oxalate in the diet to prevent the formation of kidney stones.[1]

Watch Out for High-Oxylate Foods

Beets are one of the most oxalate-rich foods, along with things like spinach, Swiss chard, rhubarb, and more. This makes them one of the major foods that cause kidney stones. In 100 g of beet leaves, there are 610 mg of oxalate. In 100 mg of boiled beetroot, there is about 675 mg of oxalate.[1]

Juicing these foods might be especially risky, as it takes a lot of a fruit or vegetable to make a small amount of juice; you can easily overdo it on your oxalate intake if you juice beets daily. It might be best to mix up your juicing recipes so that you aren’t juicing multiple beets per day. Try making a green smoothie instead, or check out our collection of juicing recipes for healthy alternatives.

Studies show that boiling beets may be the best way to enjoy these root vegetables while reducing your risk for kidney stones – boiling reduces the amount of soluble oxalates in beets below that of raw or steamed beets.[2]

How to Prevent Recurring Stones

Keep in mind that people who have had kidney stones before tend to get them again—50 percent of people who get one stone get another within 10 years.[1]

  • If you have a history of kidney stones, you’ll need to be especially cautious with oxalate-rich foods, such as beets, chocolate, spinach, tea, rhubarb, and nuts.
  • Drink plenty of water. You should pass 2 liters of urine per day.
  • Watch for signs of kidney stones (severe pain in the side of the abdomen, usually accompanied by nausea).
  • Obtain sufficient calcium from foods instead of supplements.
  • Limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg or less.
  • Limit animal protein including eggs, seafood, meat, and poultry.

Share Your Experience on Foods That Cause Kidney Stones

Have you reduced a kidney stone problem with diet? Share your experience in the Comments section below.

[1] Clin Nutr Res. 2015 Jul;4(3):137-52.

[2] J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Apr 20;53(8):3027-30.

This article was originally published in 2015 and is regularly updated.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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  • Interesting site but I am confused. It says up at the top that in 100mg of beet there is over 600mg of oxalates. How can this be correct?

  • Ireadin UHNofthe1ofoods thatcausekidneystonestharehighinoxilates arealsolistedelsewhereaslowestinoxilates. suchas,eggs,freshandfrozenmeats[beefchickenfishalsoeggsnutsspinach etc. Howcanthesebedirectlyopposed? iamveryconfused. onewebsitesaysonething,anotherwebsitesaystheopposite. why?

  • i get lots of stones- peopel that have had stomach bypass also get lots of stones- one thing i found is that when i eat snack fods with lots of salt, like pretzals, chips, etc, I’ll be passing a stone literally within 2-3 days- don’t know why- have to avoid salty snacks

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