kale green smoothie

10 Of The Best Low Oxalate Greens For Polycystic Kidney Disease

May 03, 2023

Google “what to eat for PKD” and a million and one different recommendations will come up.  You might be tempted to throw the towel in and stick to the standard recommendations for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).  I get it, there's lots of conflicting and scattered information online, especially about oxalates!   


If you are confused about oxalates and what greens are good to eat with PKD, this article with clear all that up for you.  Is kale high in oxalates, how many oxalates are in arugula? Keep reading and all these questions, plus more, will be answered.


You will learn my top 10 Low Oxalate Greens for Polycystic Kidney Disease, their oxalate content, nutritional health benefits, and get a trustworthy oxalate list resource.  You are going to want to bookmark this one!


What Are Oxalates?


Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds found in plants, including vegetables, nuts, grains, fruit, etc.  Our body also produces oxalate as waste, it's an end product of some normal metabolic processes.


Plants need oxalates however, humans don’t.  We aren’t able to break down oxalate waste so the goal, as I like to say, is to eat and excrete oxalates.  There are many different factors that affect oxalate excretion, including different dietary components, kidney health, and gut health, to mention a few.  What you need to know is that the amount of oxalates consumed via diet does impact the amount you need to filter and excrete.   

A high concentration of oxalates in the urine isn't a good thing.  It can form oxalate crystals with the potential of a kidney stone developing and kidney injury occurring.  Kidney stone formation is complex and other factors do come into play.  Check out my Kidney Stones article, a 2-part series, to learn more about Kidney Stones and PKD.


Managing Oxalates


Managing oxalates for PKD doesn’t have to be complicated.  The goal is not to eliminate all oxalates, that would mean removing any and all plant-based foods from your diet.  This would be the opposite of healthful for you and your kidneys.


The key to managing oxalates is:

  1. Find, and use a source for oxalate information
  2. Identify what you are eating that is really high in oxalate
  3. Swap out higher oxalate foods for lower oxalate options


These 3 simple steps are a great place to start.  My trusted oxalate source is Harvard’s oxalate list, the original report is in PDF form and is somewhat cumbersome to sort through.   

Check out this searchable Oxalate Food List, courtesy of The Kidney Stone Diet. It's a great resource that used Harvard’s oxalate data for input.  Don’t pay any attention to the “oxalate level” reported on the far right, what’s valuable to you is the serving size and oxalate amount in that serving.  


The Best Low Oxalate Greens For PKD 


Please note, all information provided is for 1 cup of raw, leafy greens.

Nutrition benefits are sourced from the USDA’s FoodData Central.


1. Kale

1 cup of Kale has 2 mg of oxalates. 

Taste: a nutty green with an earthy crunch, and a tougher texture when eaten raw

Benefits: loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and beta-carotene 


 2. Bibb Lettuce (Butterhead Lettuce)

1 cup of bibb has 5 mg of oxalates

Taste: mild in flavor, sweeter with a soft buttery taste

Benefits: a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and folate


3. Romain Lettuce

1 cup of romaine has 0 mg of oxalate

Taste: a slightly sweet and crunchy leafy green

Benefits: good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, folate, and other potent antioxidants


4. Iceberg Lettuce

1 cup of iceberg lettuce has 0 mg of oxalate

Taste: a mild leafy green with a crunchy texture

Benefits: a good source of folate and Vitamin K


5. Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage)

1 cup of Bok Choy has 1 mg of oxalates

Taste: a crunchy green with a mild flavor similar to celery and cabbage

Benefits: loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and a variety of vitamins and minerals


6. Arugula (Rocket)

1 cup of arugula has 2 mg of oxalates

Taste: A peppery green that can have a bitter bite

Benefits: rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin K, calcium, antioxidants, and nutrient-rich


7. Collard Greens

1 cup of collard greens has 10 mg of oxalates

Taste: a somewhat tougher green with a slightly bitter taste, most often served cooked!

Benefits: excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A and rich in Vitamin C


8. Mustard Greens

1 cup of mustard greens has 4 mg of oxalates

Taste: a sharp “spicy”, sometimes bitter flavor

Benefits: Rich in fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and antioxidants


9. Green & Napa Cabbage 

1 cup of green cabbage has 2 mg oxalates.

Taste: a crunchy green that is slightly bitter, and slightly sweet 

Benefits: rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and fiber


10. Purple Cabbage 

1 cup of purple cabbage has 6 mg of oxalates

Taste: a sturdy and crunchy "green" that is slightly sweet with a mild peppery bite

Benefits: high in fiber, a good source of Vitamin D


In Summary


Your 10 best low oxalate leafy greens are:

  • Kale
  • Bibb Lettuce
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • Arugula
  • Collard Greens
  • Mustard Greens
  • Green & Napa Cabbage
  • Purple Cabbage



There are many perks and positives for PKD for including leafy greens consistently in your diet.  They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and folate.  Including them in your PKD Diet is beneficial for bone health, heart health, and gut health.


Check out more PKD-Specific resources and articles on The PKD Dietitian Blog.  Have a topic or questions you want to ask Diana, The PKD Dietitian, about?  Reach out to [email protected].