Kidney stones are hard deposits that can be composed of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, uric acid or struvite crystals, according to the Langone Medical Center. They can range from harmless to painful to eventually causing kidney failure. A healthy diet can lower your risk for developing more stones, and popcorn can be part of a diet for healthy kidneys.
You can reduce your risk of forming calcium oxalate kidney stones by eating no more than 40 to 50 mg of oxalates per day, according to the University of Pittsburgh. Popcorn can be part of a low-oxalate diet because each cup provides only 4 mg, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Other low-oxalate snack foods include custard, pudding, crackers, while some high-oxalate foods to avoid include potato chips and most kinds of nuts.
Popcorn may be beneficial because it has only 110 calories per ounce, and it can help you control your weight. Obesity increases your risk for kidney stones, according to MayoClinic.com. Individuals who eat more whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal and popcorn, tend to have a lower body weight than those who choose refined grains, such as white bread, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The recommendation is to get at least half of your grains from whole grain sources.
A high-fiber diet can lower your risk for kidney stones, and popcorn is a good source. An ounce of air-popped popcorn has 4.1 g fiber, or 16 percent of the daily value. Dietary fiber is a phytonutrient that comes from the parts of plant foods that your body cannot digest. The typical American gets less than half of recommended amounts, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Other good sources include many other whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and nuts.
Sodium and Magnesium
MayoClinic.com recommends limiting your sodium intake in order to reduce your risk for kidney stones. With only 2 mg sodium per ounce, air-popped popcorn is a low-sodium alternative to salted popcorn or other crunchy snacks, such as salted pretzels, cheese or beef jerky. Air-popped popcorn has 41 mg magnesium, or 10 percent of the daily value. Magnesium, which is also in other whole grains and nuts, is an important nutrient for preventing kidney stones, according to the Langone Medical Center.
- Harvard School of Public Health; Oxalate Content of Foods; February 2008
- MayoClinic.com; Kidney Stones; January 2010
- Langone Medical Center; Kidney Stones - Adult; Diane Savitsky; September 2010
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010; January 2010
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: Low Oxalate Diet