Low oxalate diet cheese low sodium high calcium swiss cheddar gouda gruyere fontina goat bleu muenster colby jack ricotta queso fresco

Best Practices for Integrating Cheese into A Low Oxalate Diet

For those of us who eat dairy, adding cheese into your diet at the right times can be really beneficial for supporting a low oxalate diet (LOD). If reducing the amount of oxalate you take in from foods is step one in following an LOD, step two would be trying to reduce the amount of oxalate that gets absorbed from the gut into the body once you’ve ingested it. 

But how do I do it?

One way to do this is to include calcium rich foods with your meals. If you have kidney stones, you are probably well aware of calcium’s ability to bind with oxalic acid. The good thing about this is that if it happens in the gut, instead of the kidney, then the crystals can be excreted in the stool. That means fewer oxalates are absorbed into the body, and there will be less oxalate that will have to be filtered through the kidneys.

Cheese is generally considered to be a high calcium food, and in many cases it is, but there are some popular cheeses out there that tend to have less calcium than others, or not enough calcium to justify the high sodium content. If you are concerned about kidney stones, high blood pressure or health in general, choosing cheeses that are lower in sodium is something that you probably want to do.

In general, most cheeses have around 150mg of calcium and about 150mg of sodium per 1 ounce (28g) serving. Food labels generally list the quantity of a nutrient in grams or milligrams, along with a corresponding percentage, both numbers pertaining to the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of that nutrient by the FDA. For calcium, only a percentage is listed, so throughout this post I will refer to sodium and calcium in terms of the percentage of the RDA.

The important numbers to remember here are: 

7% for sodium. 15% for calcium

If the cheese you are considering buying has 7% or LESS of the RDA of sodium, and 15% or MORE of the RDA for calcium, you are good to go. Many cheeses fall into this range, including cheddar, gouda, muenster, colby jack and queso fresco. Some can have a bit more calcium, including ricotta, gruyere, and fontina.

The absolute best cheese for a low oxalate diet is swiss. It generally has very little sodium, around 2%, and 20% or more of the RDA of calcium. If it tasted a little better, I would be the happiest person in the world, but in most cases it does the job. If anyone has any unique ways of incorporating it into a meal, be sure to let me know!

The worst cheese I’ve found for a low oxalate diet is bleu cheese, which tends to be super salty (~15%), and sometimes very low in calcium (as low as 8%). If you decide to use it, I recommend only having a little bit, and making sure there isn’t another big source of salt in the rest of your meal.

Don’t forget to check the labels

One thing to be careful of here is to make sure you are checking the labels on everything you buy. The difference between two different brands of the same type of cheese can be quite large, so keep an eye out for the ones with 7% or less of sodium, and 15% of more of calcium.

Let me know if you found this helpful, or if you have any thoughts or recommendations, be sure to put them in the comments below!

11 Comments

  1. gabrielle sutt

    what about stinky cheese like limburger, but no ryebread, how do eat it?

    • Hi Gabrielle! I’m not familiar with limburger cheese. Is this popular where you are? If you want to send me a picture of the label and I can double check the calcium and sodium content for you, but I’m not sure what it would go good with since I’ve never had it!

  2. Costco has a low fat Swiss cheese that tastes great. Not a strong flavor. Made by jarlsburg

    • Hi Stan, thanks for the tip! Interesting that they were able to make it taste good while keeping it low fat, that is quite the accomplishment. I’ll look for it next time I’m there

  3. Sandra K. Haubrich

    Thx Vincent! Very interesting and quite informative for us cheese lovers out there.

  4. Thank you for doing this and excluding me.
    I would love to receive your losing weight program. I’m on both low histamines and low oxalates diets.

    I’ve gained about 5 pounds in the 3 months I’ve been on this diet. I want to lose about 8 pounds.

    • Hi Pam! Sorry to hear about your recent struggles with your weight. If you have a reliable low histamine list, we can work together to find a meal plan that is right for you. Send me a message on Facebook or Instagram, or an email at lowoxalatekitchen@gmail.com if you want to chat.

  5. Julia Haskin

    Sorry I haven’t been forth coming with my pictures. Maybe we should just start off with me reading your posts and let me follow those. I enjoyed the one on cheese. Sorry and thanks for listening.

    • Hi Julia, my apologies for the delayed response, for some reason all the notifications I’m supposed to be getting for comments on this blog post were going to my spam folder instead of my regular inbox. If you’d like to hold off for now that is no problem at all, we can continue at any point in the future if you want 🙂

      I looked over my notes from our call and wondered if you might be getting too many carbs from the blueberries, strawberries, and hummus. It’s my understanding that keto is supposed to be high fat, moderate protein and very low carb, which I think you are aware of. But I’ve also heard that the berries and chickpeas, although not bad for you on a regular diet, can cause an increase in insulin that is big enough to kick you out of ketosis, making your body have to switch back and forth between using fat and sugar for fuel. Very lean proteins can have the same effect, since an excess of protein in a meal, without the presence of fat, can be converted by the body into glucose. It might be worth looking into – my understanding is that the best way to do keto is to not have your body juggling back and forth between ketosis and it’s regular physiological state.

      Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with at any point along the way, or anything else I can write about that you think might be helpful!

  6. Pingback: LOK Podcast Episode 6 | Dietary Calcium, Sodium Intake and Kidney Stones - Melanie Betz of TheKidneyDietitian.org | Low Oxalate Kitchen

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