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From: Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN (novick.vegsource.com)
Subject:         Re: raw tender leafy spinach leaves
Date: November 21, 2008 at 6:31 pm PST

In Reply to: raw tender leafy spinach leaves posted by J on November 18, 2008 at 4:42 am:

Hi J,

Short Answer: Unless someone is prone to oxalic containing stones, I don't see why not.

Longer Answer:

In regard to oxalates...

The following USDA chart (though old) lists the Oxalic acid content of certain vegetables. I am unable to find one that is more recent, so we will have to go with these numbers for now.

www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/Other/oxalic.html

Vegetable Oxalic acid (g/100 g)

Parsley 1.70
Chives 1.48
Purslane 1.31
Cassava 1.26
Amaranth 1.09
Spinach 0.97
Beet leaves 0.61
Carrot 0.50
Radish 0.48
Collards 0.45
Beans, snap 0.36
Brussels sprouts 0.36
Garlic 0.36
Lettuce 0.33
Watercress 0.31
Sweet potato 0.24
Turnip 0.21
Chicory 0.21
Broccoli 0.19
Celery 0.19
Eggplant 0.19
Cauliflower 0.15
Asparagus 0.13
Endive 0.11
Cabbage 0.10
Tomato 0.05
Pea 0.05
Turnip greens 0.05
Potato 0.05
Onion 0.05
Okra 0.05
Pepper 0.04
Parsnip 0.04
Rutabaga 0.03
Squash 0.02
Kale 0.02
Cucumbers 0.02
Corn, sweet 0.01
Coriander 0.01

As you can see, according to this chart,spinach is relatively high but there may be more to the picture.

Also, I was at a conference this summer where the speaker (Milton Mills, MD) discussed this issue. It was his view that some of the binding of calcium by the oxalate's was not all negative but had some positive aspect to it, as he said this is part of the mechanism by which calcium helps lower colon cancer risk.

"In addition to the potential benefit of bound calcium in the colon, there is also evidence to suggest that people who habitually consume "high" oxalate foods can adapt to the presence of these compounds and improve their absorption of
calcium despite their oxalate's."

In addition, a review also found that the "amount of oxalate absorbed from a food is not proportional to the amount of oxalate in the food." They found that spinach, rhubarb, Swiss chard, cocoa powder, chocolate, beets, beet greens, peppers, strawberries, tea (both black and green), okra, peanuts, pecans and wheat germ and bran contain sufficient oxalic acid to increase urinary oxalate excretion due to their high oxalic acid to calcium ratio.

So, again, if someone was prone to oxalate stones, they may want to limit the amount of these foods, if not, I would not worry about it.

In Health
Jeff

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