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Is Escarole High in Oxalate?

Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.

What Is Escarole?

Escarole is a leafy green vegetable that is part of the chicory family. It has a slightly bitter taste and is often used in salads or as a cooked green. Escarole is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, and contains fiber and manganese.

Is It High in Oxalate?

Despite its nutrient density, escarole is high in oxalate. This means it may not be suitable for those on a low oxalate diet. Still, escarole is a nutrient-rich leafy green vegetable that's versatile enough to eat raw or cooked. It is also a good source of fiber. If you are not on a low oxalate diet, then you can enjoy escarole as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The Risks of Oxalate

Why is oxalate a concern? Foods that are high in oxalate increase the risk of kidney stones in people susceptible to them. Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type of kidney stone and make up around 80% of the kidney stones people pass. Healthcare providers often recommend that kidney stone sufferers reduce the quantity of dietary oxalate they consume.

Oxalate is a natural substance found in foods such as spinach, rhubarb, and nuts. calcium oxalate stones can also form when the body doesn't have enough fluids to dilute the oxalate. Other vegetables high in oxalates include beets, Swiss chard, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, potato, beets, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Health Benefits of Escarole

Beyond basic vitamins and minerals, escarole is rich in antioxidants, including one called kaempferol, that helps rein in oxidative damage to cells and reduce inflammation. Many bitter vegetables are high in antioxidants.

Adding a little lemon juice or a flavored vinegar or sauce helps counter some of the bitterness. However, some people are fond of the natural bitterness of greens like escarole.

Ways to Eat Escarole

If you don’t have a history of kidney stones and don’t have to limit oxalates in your diet, you can enjoy escarole in a variety of ways.

  • Sauteed: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and escarole, and cook until the escarole is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Add some crispy nuts for some crunch.
  • Braised: Cut the escarole into bite-sized pieces and cook in a small amount of chicken broth until tender, about 10 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
  • In a salad: Chop it up and use it raw as a salad green. Toss with your favorite vinaigrette and top with crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts.
  • In a soup or stew: Toss in some escarole for some healthy greens.

Escarole is a somewhat bitter green. If you’re sensitive to the bitterness in vegetables, you might prefer escarole cooked or with a sauce to reduce its bitterness.

Escarole in soup

Escarole in soup

Choose the Freshest Escarole

When choosing escarole, look for crisp, dark green leaves. Avoid any that are wilted or have yellow or brown spots. To store escarole, wrap the leafy green in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to five days. When ready to use, wash the escarole in cold water and dry it with a towel.

Final Word

If your doctor advises limiting oxalate in your diet, it’s best to avoid escarole and choose lower oxalate vegetables and greens such as kale, bok choy, asparagus, and arugula. If you don’t have issues with oxalate, you will likely have no problem consuming moderate quantities of escarole. No matter how you enjoy it, escarole is a delicious and healthy way to add greens to your diet but be aware that it is high in oxalate.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.