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If you have IC and your doctor hasn't tested you for hyperoxaluria please read on. This may be the cause of your IC or a significant contributor to your symptoms.

*The level of oxalates in these foods varies according to cooking method. This is the lowest level these foods can be and it is after they have been boiled.

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Oxalate Food List

 

Now that you have an understanding of what oxalates are, how they can cause or aggravate IC (see Hyperoxaluria and IC), and how they can be absorbed in excess into the body (see The Cause), the next step is to look at the levels of oxalates in food.

 

Oxalates can be found in all vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and legumes. However the amount of oxalates in each food item varies greatly, from very low to very high. Below is a table to give you a basic overview of the level of oxalates in various foods.

 

NOTE: Unprocessed meat, fish and eggs contain negligible amounts of oxalate so are not included in the table. However, eating large quantities of meat can cause the body to make its own oxalates so this should be avoided. Rice may also need to be avoided or eaten in moderation due to the high level of inorganic arsenic it contains. Details of this can be found below the table.

 

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Source : http://lowoxalate.info. This is one of the most up to date lists available

Oxalate levels of food

 

Inorganic Arsenic in Rice

I have recently discovered the ongoing research on high levels of inorganic arsenic in rice and rice products.

 

How does arsenic get into our rice?

Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance in our environment and is found in our air, soil and water. However, its presence has been vastly increased in some countries due to contamination by human activity (for example, arsenic was used extensively as a pesticide in America for many years and although its use was banned decades ago the arsenic levels in some soil still remains worryingly high). Many foods grown in contaminated soil don't contain much arsenic as they don't absorb much water as they grow; rice, however, is different. Rice absorbs vast amounts of water as it grows  therefore also absorbing any arsenic that is in the water (which is effected by the soil). For this reason the levels of arsenic in rice vary according to where it has been grown.  

 

What is arsenic?

Arsenic can be inorganic arsenic (the most toxic form and that which is found in rice) or organic arsenic. Too much arsenic in the diet could increase the risk of illnesses, including cancer.  

 

Additional concerns of arsenic for IC patients

For IC patients I believe there could be a further health concern. Any arsenic that is consumed in food/water is excreted out of the body via the urine. For someone with a highly sensitive bladder (potentially caused by a damaged lining) the irritating effects of high levels of arsenic could be problematic. (Note: there have been no studies on this yet).

 

Which rice has the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic?

Studies show that rice with the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic is from African nations. Unfortunately rice from this region is not always widely available, although Egyptian rice can be bought in some Halal shops.

Out of all the types of rice on our supermarket shelves the one that contains the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic is basmati rice (from India, Pakistan and Nepal). Next is polished rice, which has lower levels than brown rice.

For more information go to: (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/articles/all/rice-how-safe-is-it)

 

Correct cooking methods can reduce levels of inorganic arsenic in rice

Arsenic can be reduced quite significantly by following correct cooking procedures. It has been advised that rice is thoroughly rinsed before cooking, and then cooked it in a large volume of water (around 6parts water to one part rice).  Eating it 2-3 times a week is considered ‘safe’.

For those on a gluten free diet be aware that many gluten free-foods contain rice in one form or another.

 

So where does this leave you when you’re cutting down on oxalates as well?

Reducing or removing rice from your diet can cause a problem when trying to eat low oxalate as you still need to consume enough carbohydrates for health and vitality. It is personal choice, but after finding this research I now only eat rice very occassionally and in its place I have oats (medium oxalate), peeled and boiled red potatoes (medium oxalate - FYI red potatoes are not on the chart above as it is just a general overview. A more detailed chart is discussed in LOD part 2) and starchy vegetables like butternut squash and turnip (both low oxalate). By eating medium foods (such as oats and red potatoes) in moderation I can still follow an acceptable low oxalate diet.

If you want more help or suggestions on what to eat I would advise asking the many knowledgeable and helpful people on the oxalate forum (12,000+ members).

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Trying_Low_Oxalates/info

 

Further information on inorganic arsenic in rice can be found below:

https://www.food.gov.uk/science/arsenic-in-rice

http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm319870.htm

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/01/how-much-arsenic-is-in-your-rice/index.htm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2817542/More-half-rice-products-exceed-new-EU-limits-ARSENIC.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/high-levels-of-arsenic-in-rice-why-isnt-it-regulated-in-our-food-9836900.htm