This week, Jill answers a listener question about Cuban black beans and whether they’re safe to eat on the Kidney Stone Diet.
Have a question? Leave us a voicemail at (773) 789-8763.
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Kidney Stone Diet Resources
Find more episodes of the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast here.
Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
Love this episode? There’s more!
Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: And I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse.
Jeff Sarris: We are back at it for another podcast episode. And you have your “Eat responsibly” shirt. Looking good!
Jill Harris: Eat responsibly, eat responsible. I just stole that from, what was it? Drink responsibly?
Jeff Sarris: Oh, nice. I didn’t even think about that. Yeah, that’s like a big campaign. But yeah, I like what Dave did with the design there with the little crumbs coming off the “E.” It’s just fun.
Jill Harris: Dave is the other partner. There’s three of us, Jeff and Dave and, obviously, me. Dave does all the beautiful art, and all the website design, and all the graphic art on the T-shirts. You know, he’s amazing. Also, the the meal plan book. He does all of it. He makes everything beautiful.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, so many things at kidneystonediet.com. You can find all the different merch and I’m sure in the next few episodes there will be different shirts, too, popping up.
Jill Harris: And next week is Easte, of course–
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, this be coming out this week.
Jill Harris: Okay, good. So next week is Easter and so I thought the green for spring. I’m eternally hopeful that spring is coming, you know. So I thought green reminds me of Easter and spring.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, we have some sun today, which is good. We’re inching our way forward towards spring.
Jill Harris: Man, it’s been the grayest god-bless-it winter in the world, so I’m just like– you know, I’ve been telling myself for months now, it’s cozy time. I’m enjoying some cozy time. Well, I’m tired of cozy time, people. We need to bring on some sunshine. And so flip flops, that’s what we need to bring on. I’m really ready.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah. So am I. But, yeah, what do you say we dive into this week’s question?
Jill Harris: Yeah, let’s go!
Jeff Sarris: This one is, it is an FAQ that somehow we didn’t touch, but it is a voicemail as well, so let’s get to it.
Can I have beans on a low oxalate diet?
Listener Voicemail: Hello, I’m Beatrice. I’m based in Washington, DC. and I recently heard from my doctor that I probably needed to go on a low oxalate diet. I can’t quite say the word. I mean, my favorite food in the entire world is beans, specifically Cuban black beans. I’ve been eating it since I was young and I definitely eat it in excess and I seem to be seeing like, kind of confusing things about where beans live. Also, my partner’s vegetarian and beans and seeds are like a big source of protein. So, I’d be interested in hearing what advice you might have about still incorporating beans in my diet, if at all possible. It’s also kind of strange to eat it with like cheese or dairy. Usually, I never do that. So I haven’t really thought about how to use calcium to kind of offset it. Thank you.
Jeff Sarris: That’s a great question and somehow something we haven’t touched on?
Jill Harris: Yeah, and I’m just telling you how we’ve done 150 episodes and we haven’t talked about beans, I don’t even know what to say. Honestly, there’s just so much to talk about, it’s just like, “oh my god, we didn’t talk about this, this!” You could just talk about this stuff or, anyway, we can all day long. All right, so beans. She’s like, “Look, I’m getting a lot of my protein. My partner and I are getting a lot of our protein through beans. And she said exactly what everyone says, “I probably eat them in excess.” So when we find a healthier food, whether it’s spinach, whether it’s almonds– do you know there’s something called almond moms now? If you go to TikTok and you put in “almond moms,” oh, I’m telling you it’s hilarious. TikTok, people, go to hashtag “almond mom.” It’s hilarious. Anyway–
Jeff Sarris: So, wait, real quick, like what type of things are they doing?
Jill Harris: Well, it’s a woman who cares about her health and, you know, she’s just always eating almonds because here’s what everyone’s told. Almonds are a healthy snack. They’re portable. You can grab-and-go with them, so everyone’s eating almonds all the time. What do I deal with every day? Almond moms or diabetics who were told from their healthcare professional, nutritionist, dietitian to eat almonds. So, when we are told something is healthy. We, as human beings, assume that more of it is healthier. So you know, Jeff, did you get her name?
Jeff Sarris: I believe it was Beatrice.
Jill Harris: Okay, Beatrice. I’m gonna call her “B,” so we’re not screwing up her name over and over. And if you’re like, “Well, it ain’t my name, B.” Just go with it, B, because that’s what you’re going to be on this show. She’s asking a great question. And so many of my patients, doctors will tell patients you better be vegan, go vegan. Now, you’ve got a kidney stone. Most of my patients are vegetarians because they’ve overeaten spinach, and beans, and all the things without getting enough calcium every day. So being vegan or being vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re not going to make kidney stone. That’s some that so much of my patient population. It is always going to be this can be have some black beans, of course.
Can she eat them like she’s been eating them? No, they can be a staple in your diet, maybe a couple times a week, in half a cup portion size. And she’s probably going to be like, “Well, that ain’t worth me having no beans. I like my Cuban black beans.” You’re gonna have to limit them. You must because they are high. Now, Harvard did not study black beans. They studied a lot of other beans. They did not study black beans. Although any other source I’ve ever looked up–you can go to PubMed, NIH all of those places, and studies show that black beans are on the higher side, really high.
Some places will say over 70, some people will say over 100, some people will say six milligrams per blah, blah, blah. And that’s not high, folks. But black beans are pretty much known as a high oxalate bean. You can still have them. If you’re somebody who really likes beans, there’s a whole bunch of other beans you can still have. And if we look it up on our oxalate list, we can see all the ones that are listed, which I’m probably not going to be able to because I can’t talk and look up things at the same time.
Jeff Sarris: Oh, it’s okay. It’s on the screen right now.
Jill Harris: So, list some of the beans they have, Jeff.
Jeff Sarris: They have fava beans–
Jill Harris: And give a portion size and how much oxalate!
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, fava beans is half a cup and 20 milligrams. Then, mung beans are half a cup, eight milligrams. Navy beans, half a cup, 76 milligrams. Red is half a cup, 15 milligrams. Refried half of half of a cup, 16 milligrams. Soybeans, one cup for 96 milligrams. And then string beans, half a cup, nine milligrams, which is, of course, a different type of being all together.
Pair your beans with a calcium source
Jill Harris: Right, so they didn’t study a lot of beans. Okay, so you can find different sites that will give you different values for beans. I tell people please don’t drive yourself nuts with this. I think part of the reason I’m successful with patients is they come to me very anxious thinking they can never eat anything as far as a plant food goes again. And then once they have a conversation with me and understand all the other parts of the Kidney Stone Diet–which just isn’t the nutrition goals. It’s about how we do those goals right. So if you love Cuban black beans, then you can have them. I would suggest having them in a half cup portion size. You do want to pair it with a calcium source.
There are non-dairy calcium sources listed on the website, so you can have it with you know any of the plant milks except almond milk. You can have it. When you pair calcium and oxalate together, the oxalate won’t be reabsorbed back into your body, so you don’t have to worry about it as much. But maybe you want to start doing things, like if you enjoy beans, maybe you have a half cup of the black beans–we know they’re higher–and then also another half cup of a lower oxalate bean. I mean, you could do it that way because some people are like, “I want to see more on my plate, Jill, as far as that goes.”
Or what I like to do if I’m having something–I don’t eat black beans much, but if I do, I’m going to put them in with half a cup of rice, so I’m not so focused on “Look, what is this half a cup crap on my dish, right?” So then I mix it or I’ll mix it with other vegetables, right? So there’s ways in which to trick the mind into thinking you’re getting more. Now, B may say–and my patients all come to me with different obstacles–they’ll say that may work for you, it’s not going to work for me, and then I keep on that consult, we keep figuring out something that’s going to work for them. I always have my agenda. And my agenda is to teach people how to eat healthier, overall, and, specifically, to prevent kidney stones.
But the first thing I care about is, am I creating a plan that this person, not the one I just talked to and not the one I’m going to talk to, this person is she or he going to be able to do it? So, if I were having a consult with B, we would figure out a way that’s going to work for her. So, sometimes, when I’m throwing out suggestions on our channel, here, you may say–the audience– that ain’t gonna work for me. But, rest assured, we would figure out a way so it works for you. So I just throw out a couple of things. When somebody says to me, too, “Oh, God, Jill, I love it!” I know they’re overeating the food. They’re overeating it. And, especially if it’s a healthy food, they don’t see any harm in it, until they get a stone.
Kidney stones cause anxiety
Now, some people will say, “I’d rather not have black beans.” And that’s absolutely a choice. You absolutely don’t have to have them. Some people will say, “I hear you, but I’m a little anxious about it.” And I would tell the patient, because, typically, these people are calling me with their urine collection report and I’m showing them what it all means and how to talk to their doctor about the results, so they can get on a great treatment plan. And then I’ll say to the patient, “Well, when you do the follow-up test, change your diet–talk to the doctor, change your diet–and then in a couple months, you do a follow-up 24 hour urine collection to see how the treatment plan is working for you, and on that day, have your black beans. Make sure you get your calcium needs met that day. And so then you can see, ‘Hey, my oxalate’s not even high. I had the half a cup. I had my calcium with it and my oxalate level is under 30. Good to go! And then you won’t be so anxious.”
And, again, the anxiety that kidney stone formers have is a fact. It’s not a generalization. People who have a kidney stone, get anxiety. So many people afterwards, because it came on suddenly, it scared the hell out of them. They’re rushed to the ER. It’s terrible. So a lot of people come to me with anxiety and would rather give up the food altogether, then do a portion kind of thing. So that’s when I say do that food that you’re a little wondering about on collection day for the follow-up and you’ll see. So that’s why, you know, go ahead!
Portion, not perfection
Jeff Sarris: I actually had a question about that. Is there any lag time for lack of a better term like, so say you’re doing the urine collection. Should you eat these items maybe 12 hours before? Or can it be just any time because it’ll it’ll sort of assimilate? I don’t know that that’s the way to sort of say that.
Jill Harris: Yeah, people say what comes out on the day of collection is what you put in your mouth that day. Now, we do know those salts–some people will say, “Well, you know, Jill, I don’t know why my salt so high. I put everything in my Fitbit PAL–” or whatever the hell it is– “and it says I was at 1500.” And then maybe the sodium I see in their urine collection says 2000. The kidneys filter salt, so it doesn’t release all of it that day because it always has to maintain body fluid balance. So maybe you went out to eat a couple of days before and the kidneys may still be throwing out that excess salt, then.
So salt can lag two to three days, but, otherwise, pretty much what you’re eating on a day-to-day basis is coming out on that urine collection. And what you drink as well. So, it’s pretty cool that way. I always have people say, “There’s no way, Jill, that I ate that much salt.” My newsletter just said that this week. It’s like, well, the pee don’t lie. The pee don’t lie because the body doesn’t make salt. It’s what we put in our body and then it comes out of it.
So, to put a period at this, black beans are high in oxalate. You can have them once or twice a week. I would suggest having a half cup or less. Also, remember you have 100 milligrams of oxalate a day. So, we know that they’re high. There’s different accounts of exactly how high they are. So just watch your oxalate for the rest of the day. Don’t be eating beets. Don’t be eating sweet potatoes. Don’t be eating other really high oxalate foods that you have numbers from Harvard and then it will be fine.
B, you probably got that stone because of what you said, “I was eating them all the time. It’s my favorite.” Probably not getting enough calcium because no adult does until they have stones or bone disease and then you’ve got a stone.” But if you just tweak your diet just a little bit, it doesn’t have to be crazy, get your calcium needs met. On my website, there’s non-dairy calcium sources there. And then I have also articles on getting your protein from other sources. You can get your protein in a lot of other sources. It doesn’t have to be solely beans. My blog has so much content on that. So, that’s important, too.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, definitely. Thank you so much for the question. It was a great prompt to finally talk about black beans because that is a common question that becomes a staple. Because I mean, they’re tasty and they do give you good amount of protein. But yeah, if they’re high in oxalate, that can be a problem.
Jill Harris: And fiber! So they’re a great source of fiber. It is a healthy food, so people tend to overeat those things. We all love our favorite things, so it’s very difficult to give up. And this could be a cultural thing for her. It could be a lifestyle for her and her partner. So it’s a big deal to have to give up these kinds of things. But if we learn the best ways in which to substitute our favorite things, will it be as good? Maybe not, but you’d be surprised. Some people are like, “Wah, I never tried that kind of bean. I love it!” And so I have a little bigger portion because it has an oxalate level that’s a little lower, so I can enjoy that.”
But, again, eating responsibly means we eat all foods, even fruits and vegetables within moderation. Just because the food is healthy, we shouldn’t be having cups and cups and cups of it a day. This is what people do, the same foods in any amount they want over and over every day because they’re healthy. So this “eat responsibly” that I’m always annoying and wearing is not about not eating too much. It’s about getting a variety of food, eating normal portions. If we ate normal portions of food, most days, of course, you’re gonna have special days where you’re just eating whatever you want those days happen. But, for most days, if we ate responsibly, and just were going to nourish our body to give it energy, to give the fuel, not so much making our mind happy all the time, the world would be a healthier place. It would.
A lot of these diseases that we’re walking around with are simply coming from we eat too much we eat too much of the wrong foods. Chronic disease could really be lessened if we did eat a little bit more responsibly. And, really, I will say this one more time, it doesn’t mean you can’t have this and that. I’m not saying that. Of course, you can enjoy whatever you want to enjoy. Just get right back on track. That’s how we do it at Kidney Stone Diet. That’s how we do it. Just get right back on track. Not a problem.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, thank you again for the question. And if you’re out there listening, and you have a question, the number is 773-789-8763. And we would love to feature your voice on a future episode. And also, I need to remember to do this, but we have Patreon. So patreon.com/kidneystonediet. People have asked how they can support in ways that isn’t necessarily being in the group calls, maybe not, like paying for the course and things. But that’s out there. There isn’t any additional content or anything from that. It’s just because we’ve been asked. But yeah, we just wanted to shout out to Laverne, who’s another one of our new patrons on patreon.com/kidneystonediet.
Jill Harris: Isn’t it nice? Thank you, Laverne! So, that means that Laverne is giving like $5 a month or whatever it is, I don’t know. But whatever it is, she’s saying, “Hey, I want to help support them every month.” Listen, guys, that’s so nice. There’s the super thanks on the channel. People give to do that. They donate money and so this is how we produce these videos and stuff. We don’t have sponsors, so this comes out of our own pockets to do all this work, but we do it happily. So when we get any kind of monetary “thank you,” it’s just above and beyond, so thank you so very much.
I will ask you guys something. There’s 65% of people on this channel that watch the videos, but they haven’t pressed that red button, the subscribe button. And I would really like it, Jeff would really like it, if you could help us in that way which doesn’t cost the thing and has nothing to do with anything for you. You just press the button, but, for us, we will be able to be found quicker when people search for kidney stone help. So, getting clinically correct information out will get on the top of the search is a big deal. So if you could please press the subscribe button. Right now our goal is we’d really like to get to 10,000 subscribers that would be so friggin’ amazing. So if you could press the button that would be so so helpful and appreciated by us. Honestly, we would really love it. Thanks so much.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely. Thanks to everyone who tuned in. Everyone who likes, comments, subscribes. All of it is really helpful across the board and also if you want to dive deep, again the website is kidneystonediet.com. But, with that, I think we’ll wrap and we will see you next time.
Jill Harris: Thanks, Beatrice!