In this interview, Sally Norton, author of “Toxic Superfoods: How Oxalate Overload Is Making You Sick — and How to Get Better,” reviews how and why even foods we’ve been told are healthy can wreak havoc on your health. As the title of the book implies, the main culprit in question is oxalate or oxalic acid, found in many plants, beans, grains, seeds and nuts, fruits, berries and herbs.1
So, just what are oxalates, why are they so bad, and how are they hidden in these superfoods that so many people are consuming? In short, it’s a naturally-occurring toxic, corrosive acid. In that state, it’s called oxalic acid. When the oxalic acid has minerals attached to it, it’s called oxalate.
Chemically, it’s a salt, and like other salts, it forms crystals that your body innately has a limited capacity to process. Calcium oxalate, for example, which is oxalic acid with calcium attached, forms into painful kidney stones.
And, unlike some other food-related toxins, oxalate cannot be removed by cooking, soaking or fermenting the food. You also cannot simply take a mineral supplement to address the depletion oxalates causes.
Oxalic acid is a dicarboxylic acid, meaning it has two carbons and each carbon has an oxygen molecule attached to it. “This special carbolic acid has all kinds of damaging toxic powers when it’s near a membrane,” Norton says. She explains: