Oxalic Acid in Beets

Image Credit: timsackton / Flickr

What about the oxalic acid in beets?

What about the oxalic acid in beets? Is it good for you to take in large amounts?

veggie4every1 / Originally posted in Priming the proton pump


As noted in my video about the oxalates in turmeric versus cinnamon (Oxalates in Cinnamon), it’s not just the amount that matters but also how well particular oxalates are absorbed, and the bioavailability of oxalates in beets is relatively poor (6 times less so than spinach, for example). Cooking the beets could cut levels about 25% but for the rare person with a condition like idiopathic calcium nephrolithiasis (a type of kidney stones) that needs a low-oxalate diet, a better high-nitrate vegetable choice would be arugula.

Image Credit: timsackton / Flickr


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

6 responses to “What about the oxalic acid in beets?

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  1. May you please recommend a plant based “alternative” or treatment to dissolve oxalates in joints. May enchondromas be associated with high absorption of oxalates from food when fat absorption issues are present?

  2. do you believe in the need of cutting oxalates for conditions like IBS or leaky gut? Im only making the connection recently, but I always react badly to spinach and Im afraid of getting worse in my conditions after turning vegan/plant based. The other day I threw up after a watercress+lemon+ginger+ cucumber smoothie. I would appreciate your insight, as always. Thanks!

    1. IBS is a kinetic condition and I can see you eat a lot of calcium-magnesium food (pro kinetic) as you eat green leaves and veg and ginger. Plant based diet is not very auspicious for zinc levels unless you eat enough pulses and nuts every day. I wouldn`t do vegan if I had a zinc deficit, it would finish me. I would focus on zinc and because of the leaky gut, I would make sure I had enough collagen minerals (silicon, sulphur) in my diet as well. The the zinc is an absolute basis, it is needed the synthesis of every protein in the body and replication of DNA of every cell. If you eat plenty of fibres food, you need to have enough fat with it, otherwise the large intestin can`t function properly. It is just a tip, why don`t you go and see a functional or integrative practitioner or nutritionist/naturopath, they would ask you more questions, broader view is needed.

  3. I just want to point out to anyone reading this that Dr. G made an error in stating the “bioavailability of oxalates in beets is relatively poor” by misreading the study he links to. That study only showed that oxalates and/or their bioavailability in BEET FIBER (in other words, a processed food where the sugar has been extracted) is low, but in fact the very same study shows a table showing that WHOLE FOOD BEETS (which is what most of us eat) actually contain relatively HIGH levels of bioavailable oxalates (see table 1 in the study). This implies that extracting the sugar from beets also removes the oxalates, and for someone concerned about oxalates, it might be safe to eat processed beet fiber if you’re into that :). I personally don’t worry about oxalates, the best way to avoid stones is to eliminate animal protein from your diet.

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