Foods for Kidney Stone Diet

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Food NameProteinCalciumPotassiumSalt
Milk, human1.03325117
Milk, cow's, fluid, whole3.2211314340
Milk, cow's, fluid, whole, low-sodium3.101012533
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, whole3.2141214340
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, 1% fat3.3721915044
Milk, calcium fortified, cow's, fluid, skim or nonfat3.4020416652
Milk, cow's, fluid, other than whole ("lowfat")3.3311915242
Milk, cow's, fluid, 2% fat3.3011715041
Milk, cow's, fluid, acidophilus, 1% fat3.3711915044
Milk, cow's, fluid, acidophilus, 2% fat3.3011715041
Milk, cow's, fluid, 1% fat3.3711915044
Milk, cow's, fluid, skim or nonfat, 0.5% or less butterfat3.3712515642
Milk, cow's, fluid, filled with vegetable oil3.3312813957

Nutrient Values

  • Nutrient contents are calculated per 100 grams of food weight.
  • Protein contents are in grams.
  • Calcium, potassium and sodium contents are in milligrams.

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Diet for Kidney Stones

information from the National Institutes of Health

What is a kidney stone?

A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms from crystals in the urine. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as the size of a golf ball (sometimes even larger). Most stones are less than a third of an inch in diameter. Many of these stones are small enough to pass out of the body during urination, but some larger stones may partially or fully block the normal flow of urine.

Kidney stones can cause intense pain and other symptoms. About 10 percent of people will experience a kidney stone at some time during life. Kidney stones are a common cause of blockage of the urinary tract in adults, accounting for 1 of every 1,000 hospitalizations. In most people, natural chemicals in the urine stop stones from forming.

How does diet affect the risk of developing kidney stones?

If you have kidney stones, you may need to follow a special diet. First, your doctor will run tests to find out what type of stones you form. From these, the doctor can determine which diet changes may be right for you.

Diet is one of several factors that can promote or inhibit kidney stone formation. Other factors include heredity, environment, weight, and fluid intake. The body uses food for energy and tissue repair. After the body uses what it needs, waste products in the bloodstream are carried to the kidneys and excreted as urine. Certain foods create wastes that may form crystals in the urinary tract. In some people, the crystals grow into stones. For people who have had a kidney stone, preventing another will be a priority. In addition to dietary changes, a person may need medicine to prevent kidney stones. The first step in preventing kidney stones is to learn what kind of stones a person's body typically makes.

If you have had a calcium stone, your doctor may ask you to cut back on the salt or sodium in your diet. Extra sodium causes you to lose more calcium in your urine, putting you at risk for developing another stone. Your doctor will probably advise you to limit salt (sodium) to 2,000 milligrams each day.

In addition to salt, you may be asked to make changes to the amount of calcium, oxalate, protein, potassium and fluid in your diet.

What are the types of kidney stones?

  • Calcium oxalate stones are the most common. They tend to form when the urine is acidic, meaning it has a low pH. Some of the oxalate in urine is produced by the body. Calcium and oxalate in the diet play a part but are not the only factors that affect the formation of calcium oxalate stones. Dietary oxalate is an organic molecule found in many vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Calcium from bone may also play a role in kidney stone formation.
  • Calcium phosphate stones are less common. Calcium phosphate stones tend to form when the urine is alkaline, meaning it has a high pH.
  • Uric acid stones are more likely to form when the urine is persistently acidic, which may result from a diet rich in animal proteins and purines-substances found naturally in all food but especially in organ meats, fish, and shellfish.
    Search our most comprehensive online Purine Content of Foods database.
  • Struvite stones result from infections in the kidney. Preventing struvite stones depends on staying infection free.
  • Cystine stones result from a rare genetic disorder that causes cystine—an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein—to leak through the kidneys and into the urine to form crystals.

Why is knowing which type of stone a person has important?

Knowing the chemical makeup of the stone helps the doctor identify why the patient is prone to stone formation. The kind of stone a person's body makes determines what dietary changes may be needed. For example, limiting oxalate in the diet may help prevent calcium oxalate stones but will do nothing to prevent uric acid stones. Some dietary recommendations may apply to more than one type of stone. Most notably, drinking enough water helps prevent all kinds of kidney stones.

What fluids should be avoided?

Grapefruit juice and dark colas have been found to increase the risk of stone formation and should be avoided by people who are prone to calcium oxalate stone formation. Although cranberry juice is often promoted as useful for preventing urinary tract infections, it contains oxalate and may be harmful to stone formers.

How does salt in the diet affect kidney stone formation?

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. The sodium in salt, when excreted by the kidneys, causes more calcium to be excreted into the urine. High concentrations of calcium in the urine combine with oxalate and phosphorus to form stones. Reducing salt intake is preferred to reducing calcium intake.
The U.S. recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sodium is 2,400 milligrams (mg), but Americans' intake averages 3,300 mg, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The risk of kidney stones increases with increased daily sodium consumption. Limiting salt to the U.S. RDA goal of 2,400 mg is an important step for people who form calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate stones. People taking medications-such as hydrochlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, or indapamide to prevent stones still need to limit salt intake.

How does animal protein in the diet affect kidney stone formation?

Meats and other animal proteins-such as eggs and fish-contain purines, which break down into uric acid in the urine. Foods that are especially rich in purines include organ meats, such as liver. People who form uric acid stones should limit their meat consumption to 6 ounces each day.
Nondairy animal proteins may also increase the risk of calcium stones by increasing the excretion of calcium and reducing the excretion of citrate into the urine. Citrate prevents kidney stones, but the acid in animal protein reduces the citrate in urine.

How does potassium in the diet affect kidney stone formation?

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine established an adequate intake level for potassium based on intake levels that have been found to lower blood pressure, reduce salt sensitivity, and minimize the risk of kidney stones.

Adequate Intake for Potassium
Life Stage  Age  Males
Infants  0-6 months 400 400
Infants  7-12 months  700 700
Children  1-3 years  3,000 3,000
Children 4-8 years  3,800 3,800
Children  9-13 years  4,500 4,500
Adolescents  14-18 years  4,700 4,700
Adults  19 years and older 4,700 4,700
Pregnancy 14-50 years - 4,700
Breast-feeding 14-50 years - 5,100

Abnormally high urinary calcium increases the risk of developing kidney stones. In individuals with a history of developing calcium-containing kidney stones, increased dietary acid load was significantly associated with increased urinary calcium excretion. Increasing dietary potassium (and alkalai) intake by increasing fruit and vegetable intake or by taking potassium bicarbonate supplements has been found to decrease urinary calcium excretion. Additionally, potassium deprivation has been found to increase urinary calcium excretion. A large prospective study of more than 45,000 men followed for four years found that men whose potassium intake averaged more than 4,042 mg/day were only half as likely to develop symptomatic kidney stones as men whose intake averaged less than 2,895 mg per day. A similar study that followed more than 90,000 women over a period of 12 years found that women in the highest quintile of potassium intake (averaging 3,458 mg/day) were only 65% as likely to develop symptomatic kidney stones as women in the lowest quintile of potassium intake (averaging 2,703 mg/day). In both of these prospective studies, dietary potassium intake was derived almost entirely from potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

How does calcium in the diet affect kidney stone formation?

Calcium from food does not increase the risk of calcium oxalate stones. Calcium in the digestive tract binds to oxalate from food and keeps it from entering the blood, and then the urinary tract, where it can form stones. People who form calcium oxalate stones should include 800 mg of calcium in their diet every day, not only for kidney stone prevention but also to maintain bone density. A cup of low-fat milk contains 300 mg of calcium. Other dairy products such as yogurt are also high in calcium. For people who have lactose intolerance and must avoid dairy products, orange juice fortified with calcium or dairy with reduced lactose content may be alternatives. Some studies indicate that calcium supplements increase the risk of calcium oxalate stone formation. Researchers theorize that calcium must be taken at the same time as dietary oxalate to protect against stone formation. Calcium supplements taken with meals may have the same protective effect as dietary calcium.

If you have had a calcium stone, your doctor may ask you to cut back on the salt and sodium in your diet. Extra sodium causes you to lose more calcium in your urine, putting you at risk for developing another stone.

How does oxalate in the diet affect kidney stone formation?

Some of the oxalate in urine is made by the body. But eating certain foods with high levels of oxalate can increase the amount of oxalate in the urine, where it combines with calcium to form calcium oxalate stones. Oxalic acid is found in most plant tissues; very little occurs in animal products.

Comprehensive online listings of oxalate content of foods: Oxalate Content of Foods for kidney stone diet.

Oxalic Acid Content of Vegetables (g per 100 g of food weight)
VegetableOxalic Acid
Amaranth 1.09
Asparagus .13
Beans, snap .36
Beet leaves .61
Broccoli .19
Brussels sprouts .36
Cabbage .10
Carrot .50
Cassava 1.26
Cauliflower .15
Celery .19
Chicory .21
Chives 1.48
Collards .45
Coriander .01
Corn, sweet .01
Cucumbers .02
Eggplant .19
Endive .11
Garlic .36
Kale .02
Lettuce .33
Okra .05
Onion .05
Parsley 1.70
Parsnip .04
Pea .05
Pepper .04
Potato .05
Purslane 1.31
Radish .48
Rutabaga .03
Spinach .97
Squash .02
Sweet potato .24
Tomato .05
Turnip .21
Turnip greens .05
Watercress .31

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