Is Moringa High in Oxalates?

Written by: Pard Bharaj

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Time to read 6 min

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle, especially if you have existing health conditions.

Introduction: 


Moringa oleifera, commonly known as drumstick tree or horseradish tree, is very well known for being one of the world’s most nutritious plants - if not the most. Consumed in forms, including leaf powder, tea, and supplements, Moringa is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is often included in diets for its numerous health benefits.


This article will examine scientific studies to determine "is Moringa high in oxalates". Oxalates are compounds that can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. By analysing the oxalate content in Moringa compared to other foods, we aim to provide a clear understanding of its safety and suitability for consumption, particularly for individuals prone to oxalate-related health issues.

What Are Oxalates?  


Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds found in many plants, including leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Chemically, oxalates can bind with minerals such as calcium to form crystals. While the body can excrete small amounts of oxalates through urine, excessive intake can lead to health problems. 


Oxalates are of particular interest in the diet because of their potential to contribute to the formation of kidney stones, primarily composed of calcium oxalate.

Health Implications of High Oxalate Foods:

 

High oxalate foods can significantly affect health, particularly in the formation of kidney stones. When oxalates bind with calcium in the digestive tract, they can form insoluble crystals. These crystals can accumulate in the kidneys, leading to the development of kidney stones, primarily composed of calcium oxalate.


Additionally, a high intake of oxalates can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals. For example, oxalates can reduce the bioavailability of calcium, leading to potential deficiencies over time, affecting bone health and overall metabolic functions.

Who Should Be Cautious About Oxalate Intake: 


  • Individuals prone to kidney stones, especially those composed of calcium oxalate.

  • People with hyperoxaluria (excessive urinary oxalate excretion).

  • Individuals with malabsorption syndromes (e.g., Crohn's disease, short bowel syndrome).

  • Those with a family history of kidney stones.

  • Individuals advised by healthcare providers to monitor oxalate intake.

Is Moringa High in Oxalates? 


Scientific studies (please review summary studies' in "references and further reading at the end of the article") I have provided offer varied insights into the oxalate content of Moringa oleifera, particularly its leaves.


One study reported that dried Moringa oleifera leaves contain oxalates ranging from 430 mg/100 g to 1050 mg/100 g, depending on the drying method used. This indicates a relatively high oxalate content, which can inhibit calcium absorption in the digestive tract, posing a risk for individuals susceptible to kidney stones.


Further research, including a comparative analysis of different Moringa species, revealed that Moringa oleifera leaves have a greater inhibitory effect on calcium oxalate crystallisation than Moringa peregrina leaves. This suggests that the phytochemicals in Moringa oleifera might offer some protective benefits despite its high oxalate content.


In another study involving weanling rats, it was found that the presence of oxalates in Moringa oleifera leaves significantly inhibited calcium absorption. Rats fed with a greens diet, which included Moringa, showed lower calcium absorption and retention compared to those fed a milk diet, highlighting the impact of oxalates on nutrient absorption.


Despite its high oxalate levels, Moringa oleifera is widely regarded for its rich nutritional profile. However, for individuals prone to kidney stones or those needing to manage their oxalate intake, it is good to start slowly with Moringa and see how you feel.

Conclusion: Is Moringa High in Oxalates? 


Moringa oleifera leaves are indeed high in oxalates, with levels ranging from 430 mg/100 g to 1050 mg/100 g. This high oxalate content can inhibit calcium absorption and potentially contribute to the formation of kidney stones, however there is other evidence that shows it can have an inhibitory effect on the crystallisation of calcium oxalate. More studies investigating this relationship are needed.


While Moringa is nutritionally rich, those prone to kidney stones or managing oxalate intake should consume it in moderation and consider preparation methods that reduce oxalate content. 


Always consult a healthcare provider for personalised dietary advice, before starting new supplements.

Image of Pard, the Author

Author: Pard Bharaj

I am a dedicated researcher with nearly a decade of experience in investigating health best practices. 

References and Further Reading:

1. Cultivation, Genetic, Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology of Moringa oleifera Leaves: An Overview


Summary: The study highlights Moringa's extensive use for medicinal and nutritional purposes, emphasising its rich content in vitamins, minerals, and various bioactive compounds. Dried Moringa oleifera leaves contain oxalates ranging from 430 mg/100 g to 1050 mg/100 g, depending on the drying method used. The presence of oxalates can inhibit the absorption of certain minerals, particularly calcium, which is significant for dietary considerations. High oxalate intake is associated with an increased risk of kidney stone formation, especially in individuals prone to kidney stones. Individuals with a history of kidney stones or those with conditions affected by high oxalate intake. It is advisable to consume Moringa leaves as part of a balanced diet and consider methods to reduce oxalate content, such as proper preparation and cooking techniques.

Authors: Silke Grosshagauer, Philip Pirkwieser, Klaus Kraemer, Veronika Somoza


2. Inhibition of crystallization of calcium oxalate monohydrate using leaves from different species of Moringa – Experimental and theoretical studies


Summary: This study examines how the leaves of two Moringa species, Moringa oleifera and Moringa peregrina, affect the crystallisation of calcium oxalate, a key component of kidney stones. Experimental methods, including turbidity measurements and microscopy, revealed that Moringa oleifera leaves have a greater inhibitory effect on the crystallisation process compared to Moringa peregrina leaves. Theoretical models suggest that specific phytochemicals in the leaves interact with calcium oxalate crystals, providing a possible mechanism for the inhibition observed.

Author:  Sindhu Menon, Asila Salim Al-Saadi, Noura Jaber Al-Aamri, Al-Zahraa Hamood Al-Jaradi, Hajar Khalfan Al Mamari, Laila Hamed Al Haddabi, V.P. Jayachandran, C.B. Shinisha


3. Moringa frequently asked questions


Summary:This review article by M.E. Olson discusses the taxonomy, nomenclature, climate preference, nutritional value, and potential side effects of Moringa oleifera. It clarifies the correct scientific name, native range, and cultivation preferences. The article highlights that moringa contains low levels of trypsin inhibitors, tannins, saponins, and lectins, with nearly 40% of its calcium in the form of insoluble oxalates, which are excreted and do not contribute to kidney stone formation. The potential abortifacient effects of moringa, particularly in concentrates, are also noted.

Author: M.E. Olson



Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Moringa high in oxalates?

Yes, Moringa oleifera leaves contain relatively high levels of oxalates, ranging from 430 mg/100 g to 1050 mg/100 g depending on the drying method used.

How much oxalates are there in Moringa compared to other foods?

Moringa oleifera leaves are known to have a high oxalate content, which ranges from 430 mg/100 g to 1050 mg/100 g. For comparison:


  • Spinach (cooked) : Approximately 970 mg/100 g
  • Rhubarb : Approximately 1082 mg/100 g
  • Beet Greens : Approximately 500 mg/100 g
  • Almonds : Approximately 469 mg/100 g
  • Sweet Potatoes : Approximately 48.6 mg/100 g

Moringa leaves have similar or higher oxalate levels than these other high-oxalate foods, which is significant for individuals managing their oxalate intake due to kidney stones or other health conditions.

Who should be cautious about consuming Moringa?

Individuals prone to kidney stones, those with hyperoxaluria, malabsorption syndromes, or a family history of kidney stones should monitor their oxalate intake and consult a healthcare provider before consuming Moringa.

What are the health implications of consuming high-oxalate foods like Moringa?

Studies have shown that the high oxalate content in Moringa leaves can inhibit calcium absorption in the intestines. This reduced absorption can increase the risk of kidney stone formation as the unabsorbed oxalate can bind with calcium in the kidneys.


However, Moringa also contains various bioactive compounds that might offer protective benefits. For instance, some research indicates that Moringa extracts have an inhibitory effect on the crystallisation of calcium oxalate, potentially reducing the risk of kidney stone formation. This effect is thought to be due to the presence of specific phytochemicals in Moringa that interfere with the growth and aggregation of calcium oxalate crystals.


Individuals with a history of kidney stones or those advised to follow a low-oxalate diet should consume Moringa in moderation and consult healthcare providers for personalised advice.

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