5 Best Low Oxalate Flour to Reduce Kidney Stone Risk

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If you’re trying to lower your oxalate intake in every way possible, put low oxalate flour on your grocery list. Not only will low oxalate flours help you reduce your risk of calcium oxalate stones and other symptoms, but they can also diversify your diet away from refined options.

Different types of flour arranged in lines on a wooden surface, showcasing varying textures and colors.

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When I first started researching the low oxalate diet, flour was the least of my concerns. I was so focused on vegetables, fruits, and proteins with high oxalate content that I forgot the thing that makes the bulk of many dishes: flour.

So, what are low oxalate flours? How can it benefit someone who’s trying to reduce their oxalate intake? And where can you find high-quality options? Let’s talk about it.

What Are Oxalates, Anyway?

The Kendall Reagan Nutrition Center at Colorado State gives us a good definition of oxalates. Essentially, oxalates are natural compounds in fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. The human body also produces oxalates as waste products.

In plants, oxalates perform several vital roles in growth and development, according to a 2022 study published by ACS Publications. These include but are not limited to regulating photosynthesis, plant defense, postharvest quality, and metal detox. 

Are Oxalates Bad?

Oxalates wouldn’t be present in plants if they didn’t serve an important purpose. So, they aren’t inherently bad. However, the problems start once humans ingest oxalates.

Many health institutions like the Harvard School of Public Health consider oxalates as “anti-nutrients” because they can bind to calcium and hinder its absorption in the body. For most people, this shouldn’t pose a threat to overall health, but it can be detrimental to individuals with a high risk of diseases caused by calcium deficiency, such as osteoporosis.

Another huge concern about oxalates is that they can increase the risk of calcium oxalate stones. According to the National Kidney Stone Foundation, the oxalate in the foods we eat travels through the bloodstream and to the kidneys as a waste product. 

Calcium oxalate stones can form in two ways. First, waste products like oxalate can crystallize and form hard stones when there is not enough urine to dilute them. On the other hand, stones can also form when there are too many oxalates in the urine. Either way, calcium and oxalates can bind together while the kidney produces urine.

Calcium oxalate stones are the most common kidney stones, accounting for around 75% of all stones formed. Like all kidney stones, they can be extremely painful to pass and may require surgery if passing naturally is not possible. 

A wooden rolling pin next to a heart-shaped imprint in flour on a surface.

What is the Low Oxalate Diet?

The low oxalate diet revolves around reducing your intake of high oxalate foods. According to the University of Chicago’s Kidney Stone Program, the recommended daily goal is less than 100mg of oxalate. 

The main challenge is that typical diets have about 200 to 300mg of oxalate or more. So, it’s really all about being more mindful of your food choices. Download my High & Low Oxalate Food List so you know what foods to avoid and which ones to focus on. 

Oxalates and the whole deal about anti-nutrients can be pretty confusing, and I totally understand. If you want to learn more about oxalates from an expert’s perspective, tune into our podcast episode with Sally K. Norton where we talk about oxalates and their potential harmful effects.

Should You Follow a Low Oxalate Diet?

Your doctor may recommend a low oxalate diet if you have a high risk of forming calcium oxalate stones. The National Kidney Foundation lists the following risk factors:

  • Dehydration
  • Too much protein, salt, oxalate, and sugar intake
  • Obesity
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases like Chron’s
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Dent disease

A low oxalate diet may also be a good idea if you have calcium deficiency, as oxalates can bind to calcium and prevent the intestines from absorbing them. On a similar note, not getting enough calcium may also increase your risk of calcium oxalate stones because the oxalate wouldn’t have anything to bind to, causing them to go straight to the kidneys.

If you have had a kidney stone before, you may also have a higher risk of developing another stone. According to the Urology Center of Florida, one occurrence can lead to 35% to 50% of another stone within the next five years. Of course, addressing the factors that caused the first stone can significantly lower that risk.

Does one or more of these risk factors apply to you? If so, I highly recommend working with your primary care physician and dietitian to lower your chances. If you have had a kidney stone before, consulting a urologist or nephrologist may help.

Wooden spoons with different types of flour (corn, wheat, rye, all-purpose) arranged in a row on a wooden surface.

What is Low Oxalate Flour?

Low oxalate flour is exactly what it sounds like: flour low in oxalate. Flour is one of the most common ingredients we use to make foods, such as bread, cakes, pasta, crackers, and so much more. So, if you want to lower your oxalate intake, it makes perfect sense to start here.

High Oxalate Flours

Before we dive into low oxalate flours, let’s talk about the ones with high oxalate levels. Sadly, the most popular flours we use have moderate to high amounts of oxalate. The UCI Kidney Stone Center and the Korean Society of Clinical Nutrition give us an overview of the flours you should avoid on a low oxalate diet:

Type of FlourOxalate Content Per One Cup Serving (120g)
All-Purpose Flour17mg
Brown Rice Flour65mg
Soy Flour94mg
Wheat Flour, Whole Grain29mg
Buckwheat Flour322mg
Rye Flour, Dark61mg
Rye Flour, Brown44mg
Semolina Flour57mg
Cornmeal64mg

The high oxalate content of these flours doesn’t automatically mean you should cut them out of your diet. When baked into bread or cooked with other ingredients, the flour content (and oxalate) content can be relative. 

For example, flour expands in volume when turned into bread, so you’re not getting as many oxalates in a single slice. Based on the UCI list, most breads and baked goods average around 5 or 7mg of oxalate per piece.

However, it’s a different story for baked goods that contain a lot of flour per serving. These include cake (both store-bought and homemade) and brownies that may contain upwards of 15 to 30mg of oxalate.

Crackers like saltines and graham crackers are generally safe since they only have about 1 to 2mg of oxalate per piece. Pies have a moderate amount of oxalate unless it’s a chocolate pie since chocolate is high up on the oxalate list.

Low Oxalate Flours

What if you don’t want to avoid these foods but still want to lower your oxalate intake? Well, the next best option is to make or buy ones that use these low-oxalate flours and substitutes:

Type of FlourOxalate Content 
Corn Flour3mg per 120g
Barley Malt Flour0mg
Corn Bran0mg
Flax seed0mg
Oat Bran, Raw0mg
Cornstarch3mg per 120g

Celiac.com lists other low oxalate flours and starches, although we don’t have exact oxalate amounts of them yet. These include:

  • Potato starch
  • Green bean starch
  • Sweet potato starch
  • Green pea flour
  • White rice flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Sweet rice flour
  • Cowpea flour
  • Chickpea flour
  • Yellow pea flour
  • Water chestnut flour
  • Lupin flour
  • Sweet rice flour

Pro tip: If you want to make homemade flour, try oat flour. Oatmeal is naturally low in oxalates, and you can turn oats into flour by blending them in a food processor. You can use it for muffins, bread, and even savory low-oxalate breakfast recipes.

Best Low Oxalate Flours on the Market

Your doctor may say that it’s perfectly fine to keep most flours in your diet, but personally, I like to offset the high-oxalate flours with low-oxalate options. These are my favorites:

1. King Arthur Masa Harina

Out of all the corn flours I’ve tried, King Arthur’s Masa Harina always makes the best soft tortillas. Its main ingredient is white corn flour, which scores low on the oxalate list. Plus, it’s USDA Certified Organic, making it the best fit for a clean, low-oxalate diet.

You can learn how to make homemade corn tortillas for a beef heart taco recipe. They are such a treat and a great way to add organ meats to your diet.

King Arthur Masa Harina
$8.05 ($0.25 / Ounce)


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05/13/2024 11:51 pm GMT

2. Bobs Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal

Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans, which can help boost heart health and digestion. While it’s not always possible to replace all flour with flaxseed, I found that it can easily replace ¼ of the flour a recipe calls for.

Flaxseed is also gluten-free, so you can add it to any baking recipe to boost its nutrient content. Try it in keto coffee cake and low-carb chocolate pumpkin bread

Bobs Red Mill Flaxseed
$10.94 ($0.68 / Ounce)


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3. Anthony’s Organic Coconut Flour

Coconut is a very versatile food, as evidenced by the numerous products it can be turned into, like this Organic Coconut Flour from Anthony’s. This flour makes a great gluten-free swap for wheat flour and can be less prone to clumping when mixed with wet ingredients.

If you want to try dairy-free baking, I also recommend other coconut products like coconut cream and coconut milk. When used right, these ingredients can add just as much richness and flavor to a recipe as cow’s milk and butter.

Anthony’s Coconut Flour
$18.99 ($0.30 / Ounce)


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4. Koda Farms Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour

Up for making gluten-free pancakes, noodles, or boba? Try this Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour from Koda Farms. It’s the best for making mochi, snappy noodles, and other chewy foods. Aside from Asian-style confections, it can also be used as a thickening agent for gravies, sauces, and soups.

Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour
$14.97 ($0.31 / Ounce)


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5. LETS DO Organic Lets Do Cornstarch

I don’t recommend using cornstarch as a substitute for flour in baking recipes, but it’s great for thickening sauces and gravies, as well as coating deep-fried foods like chicken. You probably already have cornstarch in your pantry, but I suggest you try a certified organic option like Lets Do Cornstarch.

Lets Do Cornstarch
$6.79 $5.84 ($0.97 / Ounce)


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More Low-Oxalate Tips to Keep in Mind

Now you know how to choose low-oxalate options for one of the most common pantry staples, what are other ways you can keep your oxalate intake low? Here are some strategies that have worked for me and may work for you, too:

  • Familiarize yourself with high and low-oxalate foods. Learn about low-oxalate vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and other food groups. 
  • Focus on the foods you can eat. Instead of dwelling on the high-oxalate options you should limit, zero in on safer foods you can fill your diet with. Remember that the low-oxalate diet is not meant to cause weight loss, so don’t risk shedding pounds unnecessarily by cutting out a lot of nutritious foods.
  • Make swaps. If your favorite foods are on the high-oxalate list, try to find similar options. For example, you can swap spinach for kale.
  • Don’t forget about calcium. Ask your doctor or dietitian if you need to up your calcium intake to avoid calcium oxalate stones. The good news is that plenty of calcium-rich foods like dairy are low in oxalates.
  • Limit your sodium intake. The National Kidney Foundation recommends limiting your sodium intake to reduce your risk for kidney stones. This means avoiding high-salt foods like processed snacks, cured meat, frozen dinners, canned food, and table salt. Doing so can also help you avoid heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
  • Drink more fluids. A higher volume of urine can help prevent waste products from crystalizing in the kidneys. Drink a lot of fluids, primarily water, and avoid diuretics like coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages that can make you expel water too fast.

As always, talk to your doctor or dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet. A low oxalate diet may not always be necessary for everyone with risk factors for kidney stones, but the need varies from person to person. 

Final Thoughts

Flour makes up a lot of common foods, such as bread, pasta, cookies, cake, crackers, and more. However, most of these foods are traditionally made with high-oxalate flour like all-purpose flour and wheat flour.

Your healthcare provider may recommend lowering your consumption of these flours to reduce your risk of oxalate stones. If that is the case, use this article as a guide to switching to low-oxalate flour!

Have you tried using these low-oxalate options for baking and cooking? Share your experience in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “5 Best Low Oxalate Flour to Reduce Kidney Stone Risk”

  1. What a great resource! I’m realizing that I’m consuming more oxalates than I thought because I’ve mostly focused on reducing my intake of high oxalate produce.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you found this helpful, Jan. I hope you find the perfect balance for your diet. Rooting for you!

      Reply

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