I often get asked about why kale seems to have fallen out of favor recently. While kale was definitely a trendy superfood a few years ago, its popularity has tapered off in recent years. One reason could be that people got tired of seeing it on every menu and in every health food store. Another possibility is that people found it difficult to prepare or didn't enjoy the taste as much as they thought they would. The other reason is a tad more scientific!
It has to do with oxalates which I will be discussing below.
Whatever the reason may be, it's important to remember that there are plenty of other nutritious and delicious greens out there to incorporate into your diet. So don't worry if kale isn't your thing – there are plenty of other options to choose from!
As a health coach, I often get asked about oxalates and their effects on the body. Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds found in many plant-based foods, including leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. While oxalates are not harmful in moderation, they can cause health problems for some individuals when consumed in excessive amounts.
High levels of oxalates can lead to the formation of kidney stones, which can be very painful and require medical intervention. For this reason, individuals who have a history of kidney stones or are at risk for developing them should be careful about their oxalate intake.
In addition to potentially causing kidney stones, consuming excessive amounts of oxalates can also affect calcium absorption. This is because oxalates can bind to calcium in the gut and prevent it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. This means that if you consume a lot of high oxalate foods, you may not be getting the full benefit of the calcium in your diet. To counteract this, it's important to make sure you're getting enough calcium from other sources, such as dairy products, fortified plant milks, and leafy greens that are low in oxalates, like collard greens and kale. Additionally, consuming foods high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, can help to convert oxalates into a form that is less likely to bind with calcium, which can help to mitigate the effects of oxalates on calcium absorption.
So, which greens are low in oxalates and which ones have high levels? Here are some examples:
Low Oxalate Greens:
Lettuce (green and red leaf)
High Oxalate Greens:
Swiss Chard (some varieties)
If you're looking to incorporate more low oxalate greens into your diet, try this delicious Paleo-friendly smoothie recipe:
Low Oxalate Green Smoothie Recipe (Low Sugar):
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (I like MALK)
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped bok choy
1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger
1/2 tablespoon honey (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Scoop of Protein (I like Sunwarrior)
Combine all ingredients except honey in a blender and blend until smooth.
Taste the smoothie and add honey if you'd like it sweeter.
Add ice cubes if desired and blend again until smooth.
Pour into a glass and enjoy!
This low oxalate green smoothie is a great option for those who want to limit their sugar intake. The natural sweetness of the mango, the spicy cinnamon and ginger, along with the refreshing flavors of the cucumber and bok choy, make for a delicious and healthy drink.
Here's a delicious low oxalate salad recipe that's packed with flavor and nutrition:
Low Oxalate Salad Recipe:
2 cups baby arugula
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ACV
Splash of good Balsamic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Italian Seasoning (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
In a large bowl, combine the arugula, romaine, radishes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, and mint.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, seasoning and black pepper.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
This low oxalate salad is not only delicious and refreshing, but it's also a great way to get a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from a variety of low oxalate greens and vegetables. Feel free to add in any other low oxalate veggies or toppings that you enjoy, such as chopped bell peppers, shredded carrots, olives, or crumbled feta or goat cheese.
In conclusion, while oxalates are a naturally occurring compound found in many healthy plant-based foods, consuming excessive amounts of oxalates can lead to health problems, particularly for those with a history of kidney stones. However, by incorporating low oxalate greens into your diet, such as collard greens, lettuce, and bok choy, and limiting high oxalate greens, like spinach kale and rhubarb, you can reduce your overall oxalate intake. Additionally, by being mindful of your calcium intake and consuming foods high in vitamin C, you can help to mitigate the effects of oxalates on calcium absorption.
By taking these steps, you can enjoy a healthy and balanced diet that supports your overall health and well-being. So, go ahead and try out the recipes and start incorporating more low oxalate greens into your meals!