The People's Perspective on Medicine

Are You in Danger of Kidney Stones if You Love Beets?

Beets increase levels of nitric oxide and lower blood pressure, but beets are high in oxalates that could increase the risk for kidney stones

Q. I take beet juice powder and it has dropped my blood pressure to normal levels. But I hear that beets can cause kidney stones in some people. If so, am I putting myself at risk by taking the powder daily?

A. Unless you have had a kidney stone, you may not be in any danger. If you are susceptible to oxalate-containing kidney stones, however, then beets, beet greens and beet root powder could pose a problem. They are quite high in oxalates and may promote kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals.

Foods with High Oxalate Levels

  • Almonds
  • Beans (baked,  kidney, refried)
  • Beets (and beet greens)
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Currants
  • Figs (dried)
  • Kiwis
  • Leeks
  • Lentils
  • Miso
  • Okra
  • Olives (green)
  • Parsley
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Peppers (green)
  • Pistachios
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Sesame seeds
  • Spinach
  • Soy (soy burgers, soy nuts, soy milk, soy sausage, soy yogurt)
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss chard
  • Tangerines
  • Tofu
  • Wheat bran

Many of these foods are very healthy and you would not want to give them up unless you were susceptible to oxalate-containing kidney stones. If that is the case, you would need to look for another way to keep your blood pressure under control.

Beets make blood vessels more flexible, thus lowering blood pressure, but certain other foods act in a similar way. We are sending you our Guide to Blood Pressure Treatment with many suggestions for non-drug approaches to lowering blood pressure naturally. Anyone who would like to download it for $2 can go to this link.

One of the best ways to prevent kidney stones is to keep fluid intake high. Experts recommend two to three liters of water daily. Lemonade therapy has also been recommended, but don’t add too much sugar. Here are the key points from an article in the journal Urology (Nov., 2007):

“OBJECTIVES: Potassium citrate is prescribed to patients with calcium oxalate (CaOx) stone formation to increase urinary citrate and pH, thus reducing CaOx crystal formation. Lemonade therapy (LT) might also increase urinary citrate and the total urine volume. We compared the effects of LT alone and potassium citrate plus LT in patients with CaOx stone formation on the urinary citrate and total urine volume to determine the efficacy of LT…

CONCLUSIONS: LT resulted in favorable changes in urinary citrate and total urine volume in our series…”

And if you cannot tolerate beets, remember, there are many other non-drug approaches to helping control blood pressure. You can find them in our guide.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I have only one kidney left, but never had a stone. Can I take two ounces of beet juice once daily for lowering my blood pressure, without harming my only kidney?
Thank you for any serious comment or advise.

I have a wheatish dark complexion with black scares on my face. I heard it from someone that consuming beetroot juice daily will improve my skin tone. I had kidney stones few months back. Kindly guide me is consuming beetroot juice good for me. If no how can I have a fair glowing skin. I am 32 years of age.

Because I had my Gallbladder removed due to stones forming,
am I prone to producing oxalates?. I was thinking of taking beet root to reduce my blood pressure. Should I?

So does this mean you can eat a potassium containing food with a high-oxalate containing food and there would be no problem?

One has to be specific about drinking water. People may not form/enlarge kidney stones during the day, but do so at night. If one is worried about kidney stones, he should drink water so that he has to get up and urinate at night, and then, just when he peed, drink some more water!

We can teach ourselves to fall back asleep after waking several times a night in order to pee.

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