Attacking the Green Smoothie

I’m a bit confused. Recently I read an article attacking green smoothies, as well as leafy dark greens in general. Although I do enjoy the blog’s content when it comes to traditional cultures and the Weston A. Price diet, I did not necessarily appreciate the scare tactics practiced in the body of the article. The green smoothie is very important to me, and I know it is to many others. Here, I hope to bring a little bit more perspective on this subject, backed by current scientific research.

Oxalates – Poison for Some, Relatively Harmless for Many

The main goal of the article was to promote the shunning of oxalate rich greens, like spinach, kale and swiss chard. These nutrient rich dark green vegetables contain oxalates, which can bind to calcium and prevent its absorption. They are relatively heat stable, so cooking does not affect them a great deal. Although those with kidney stones, or those with a history of kidney stones, should avoid them, most research says that oxalate rich foods (in a varied diet) has very little affect on kidney stone formation in healthy adults.

According to WHFoods, there are only rare circumstances for people to avoid oxalate rich vegetables, such as kale and spinach. Disorders being absorptive hypercalciuria type II, enteric hyperoxaluria, and primary hyperoxaluria. Research shows, however, that diet may only contribute to stone formation in a select group of individuals, on not the majority of the population.

Should I Avoid the Green Smoothie?

The majority of patients who form kidney stones are NOT drinking enough water, are NOT exercising regularly and are NOT following a otherwise healthy diet or lifestyle. Genetic disorders can contribute, but are rare.

Again, those with the disorders above, including a history of stone formation, would be better off using low oxalate vegetables in their green smoothie.  If you are relatively healthy, there is NO reason to avoid a green smoothie every other day, or every day, even, as long as you are enjoying a diet that includes a variety of foods. I typically have a green smoothie once a day, or once every two days, depending on what mood I am in for that time of day.

Plenty of water helps reduce the incidence of kidney stones, and the green smoothie provides plenty of hydration. My green smoothie recipe, for example, provides 4-6 cups of water! That’s plenty of hydration, and hopefully it is being sipped on rather than gulped down in one sitting.

Leafy greens have valuable nutrients that are contained within the cells of the plant. These cell walls have to be broken down in order to be released, absorbed and assimilated. Since chewing isn’t always the best option for breaking down food, especially vegetables, blending is the next best method (and the best method, especially if you have a Vitamix) to completely breaking down the cell wall and releasing the nutrients.

Eat Your Veggies!

Everyone needs more vegetation, in my opinion. I’m no where near condoning a strict vegetarian or even vegan diet, as I believe there are many valuable nutrients found in grass-fed beef, free range eggs and even raw milk (on occasion). Do not let anyone deter you from enjoying dark green vegetables, as these are high in not only nutrients like vitamin A, C and K, but are also very high in antioxidants.

There are other healthy ways to enjoy your vegetables, other than smoothies. I like steaming them every now and then, and then adding a little organic butter (raw, if you can get it or make it). The butter is a fat, and the vitamins in the greens (A, E, K) are fat soluble, meaning you will absorb them much more efficiently if you are consuming some fat along with them. You can also toss these greens in a salad raw with a dressing of olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar.

Conclusion

I always caution others from taking nutrition advice from those who are not licensed or trained to do so. Although I will be a registered dietitian (holistically minded, of course!) in the near future, I still want others to simply use information they find online or in books and go out and do their own research on the subject. What’s right for someone else isn’t always right for you, and no one will respond gently to scare tactics. Listen to your body and take proactive steps towards better health.

This is The Healthy Advocate.

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5 Responses to “Attacking the Green Smoothie”
  1. Ari 24 May 2012 at 9:22 am #

    There are some things one simply has to consider, challenge, and then perhaps ignore; I agree with you! She does tend to almost only use scare tactics, doesn’t she? It’s something in the tone of her writing that screams, “There is only one answer! I am right, you are wrong!” that touches a nerve.

    • admin 24 May 2012 at 9:26 am #

      Some of Sarah’s information I love, so don’t get me wrong. I do believe, however, there isn’t one right way for everybody. Everyone needs to find their own way through experimentation, self-study and experience. Working alongside a nutritionist and holistic minded doctor to monitor your health progress is also a plus.

  2. Mark 24 May 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    I have read that there is something bad in everything we eat, even fresh broccoli. So, perhaps we shouldn’t eat anything (?) :)

    Thank you for this article. I don’t know Sarah but I have been exposed to “scare tactic’s” used by writers – either the writers are not aware they are using scare tactics or they are aware of it, in either case it only works on people who are not critical thinkers.

    I’m all for greens! Thanks!

    • admin 24 May 2012 at 5:01 pm #

      I’m all for greens too Mark! Yes, it is true that there is something in everything we eat that has the potential to cause harm, but we have to take that information and apply it to a person to person basis. Not everyone is the same, and not everyone will respond the same way to a certain eating regimen. Thanks for visiting! :)

  3. nancy 25 May 2012 at 7:11 am #

    Thanks for this article. We are using food “medicinally,” nourishing H’s mitochondria has he fights parkinson’s, so he’s drinking huge amounts (like, 12 cups raw) of kale, broccoli, spinach, etc etc on a daily basis. I’ll have to encourage him to up his water intake.

    Your clear and informed information is such a benefit. I have been processing the veggies daily and to keep my sanity, run them first through a good Oster blender with some V-8 Fusion and some aloe juice to allow them to sort of liquify, then run the mess through the juicer. That’s given me the most juice for the least time, even with having to rinse the blender.

    I had considered that all that processing might be oxidizing vitamins and such, but couldn’t worry about it and with the sheer quantity chose to decide it wouldn’t make that much difference. Glad to know it helps the body use the nutrients.

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