Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
31 Jan

Why You Should Eat Leafy Greens

By now, you’ve probably seen the TedX video from Dr. Terry Wahls, a former Tae Kwon Do champ and current MD diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (the kind that degenerates your brain and has you relying on a wheelchair to get around) who describes her transformative experience with a dairy-free Paleo diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meat and organs, and seaweed. Relegated to and totally dependent on a wheelchair in 2007, by 2008 Wahls had adopted the diet and was commuting to work on a bicycle and now incorporates this kind of intensive directed nutrition into her primary care and brain injury clinics. If you haven’t, go ahead and take twenty minutes out of your day to go watch it. It’s a real eye-opener (but not all that surprising to longtime readers). Think of it as a grass-fed, wild-caught success story.

I already linked to this video a couple months back, so why bring it up again, you might ask? Back when I watched it for the first time, something caught my ear: the focus on vegetation. Wahls speaks of eating nine cups of plants every day, with three coming as leafy greens, three as sulfur-rich vegetables, and three as brightly colored fruits and vegetables. She explains why each category is so important, not just for someone looking to reverse MS, but for anyone who wants to be healthier in general. She got me excited all over again about incorporating more vegetation into my diet. It’s not like it’s lacking or anything, either. I had just taken it for granted – some spinach here, a Big Ass Salad there, some roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner – and instead focused on the animal food. If you remember, the base of the old Primal Blueprint food pyramid was vegetation, and I still maintain that the optimal Primal plate is overflowing with mineral-and-antioxidant-rich plant matter. I think the (understandable) tendency of some to knee-jerkily rebel against anything resembling Conventional Wisdom means that leafy greens and other vegetables fall to the wayside. That’s a mistake, I think, and it’s important to understand that eating both loads of leafy green things and things that crawled, flew, or swam is not mutually exclusive. You can do both. You should eat both. And I’m going to tell you why.

Before I start, when we talk about greens, we mean leaves. So things like:

  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Collards
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Beet greens
  • Sweet potato leaves
  • Arugula
  • Baby greens
  • Endive

I haven’t covered all the regional leaves utilized in various cuisines across the world. These are the basics that most people reading this will be able to find at their grocer, farmers’ market, farm stand, and/or frozen section. Other vegetables like broccoli or certain types of cauliflower are green, but aren’t “greens.” A discussion on those guys will come next week.

Terry Wahls likes greens for the minerals and vitamin content. With that, I agree. Greens represent a convenient, essentially non-caloric, nutrient-dense source of otherwise hard to obtain minerals, like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and manganese. Heh, so what have those minerals done for me lately, you might be wondering. Well…


Of all the minerals we Primal folks talk up, magnesium may very well be the most widely supplemented. It’s certainly one of the most important; over 300 physiological processes in the human body require magnesium to function optimally, foremost among them the production of ATP for energy. Your mitochondria use magnesium to produce ATP, the body’s energy currency. So if it’s so important, why must we all supplement? How did people get enough magnesium before Natural Calm? There are a few factors, including the disappearance of magnesium from our drinking water and top soil, but the fact remains that most of us aren’t even trying to get enough magnesium through our food. That should change. Eating greens like spinach and chard will go a long way toward adding dietary magnesium.


Of all the minerals we discuss, calcium may be the least-supplemented or most-ignored. That’s a mistake. While I’ve certainly called into question the wisdom of supplementing with handfuls of calcium pills without considering the roles of vitamins D and K2 in bone mineralization, we still need calcium. We still need that raw building block (and crucial trigger for neurotransmitter release). And if you’re not eating dairy, leafy greens are probably your best source.


Potassium is another nutrient a lot of people miss out on, especially if they’re overcooking their meat (the juices contain the potassium), avoiding tubers and fruits (both are high in potassium), and shying away from avocados because of the linoleic acid (don’t stress out over a little whole-food omega-6, folks, especially when it comes in such a creamy, green package). I just got done writing about the importance of the potassium:sodium ratio in regulating blood pressure, so if you’re not eating the aforementioned potassium-rich items (and even if you are), be sure to eat your greens.


Your mitochondria use manganese to manufacture manganese superoxide dismutase, a potent mitochondrial antioxidant. With inadequate superoxide dismutase, you increase your chances of ischemic brain injury (think stroke) or developing a neuropathology. Simply put, manganese keeps your mitochondria running cleanly.

Unless you’re eating bones, drinking blood/meat juice, and eating hoof, fur, and tail, you’ll be missing out on magnesium, potassium, and calcium by excluding leafy greens.

Terry Wahls also likes greens for their vitamin content, specifically B-vitamins like folate. I tend to agree, and I’ll highlight a couple key nutrients that greens provide.


Though it’s widely touted as particularly crucial for expectant mothers and the development of the babies they bear, folate is also important for anyone’s general health. Inadequate dietary folate intake can lead to elevated homocysteine levels (which can impair endothelial function and is a risk factor for heart disease). Modern processed grain-based foods are usually fortified with folic acid, but you’re not eating that stuff. And unless you’re also eating plenty of liver, if you shun greens you are most likely lacking this vital nutrient.


Betaine is another important but oft-ignored nutrient that many people, even Primal eaters, lack. Like folate, it regulates proper homocysteine levels. Betaine also helps maintain liver health. Spinach is perhaps the greatest vegetable source of betaine (other than maybe wheat germ, but who wants that?). Spinach tastes pretty darn great steamed and tossed with olive oil, sauteed in bacon fat, or raw on a salad, so go ahead and eat some.

Besides the micronutrient content, there are other benefits of eating leafy things, especially in concert with the other foods on your plate. For those interested in eating less or losing weight, eating a salad with your meal spontaneously reduces overall caloric intake. I dunno about you, but I think any weight loss “diet” should include spontaneous caloric reduction. Although we know that caloric intake factors into weight loss or gain, we also know that many, if not most, people have difficulty consciously reducing calories. It simply doesn’t work very well, so the key is to spontaneously reduce calories by eating satisfying foods that don’t derange our satiety hormones. That’s what going Primal is all about, and research shows that eating salad (perhaps a Big Ass Salad?) can help in that regard.

Although I’m coming up dry right now, I remember reading research that showed eating leafy greens, like spinach or kale or a green salad, alongside your grilled steak reduced the absorption of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) from the meal. HCAs are carcinogenic and form with high-heat cooking, especially on meat, and absorbing fewer of them is a good thing. I’d be much obliged if anyone could pull up the research. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking.

But the real beauty of leafy greens? They are prepackaged whole food “supplements” with safe and well-balanced vitamin and mineral levels. You eat a few cups of spinach, a romaine lettuce salad, maybe some kale chips and you’ll be getting a nice healthy range of nutrients. Your overall caloric intake won’t really be impacted and you’ll be safe. No, you won’t have a nutritional profile from the manufacturer telling you exactly how many milligrams of magnesium your bowl of sauteed kale contained, or the amount of betaine in that head of spinach you chopped up and turned into a salad. The nutrient range will vary from head to head and leaf to leaf. And that’s okay. Heck, that might even be optimal. I can imagine an organism that evolved eating a varied diet with lots of ups and downs and big blocks of this mineral in one meal and another big block of that vitamin in the next. I can imagine an organism that evolved eating food, rather than prepackaged, preordained, pre-meted out collections of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Can you?

That’s why it’s food, without a label: it doesn’t need to be exact. So if you ever find yourself paused in front of the grocery store display, agonizing over the respective folate content of two particularly large heads of romaine lettuce and frozen – totally unable to act – hang it up. Start back at square one. Realize that this is food that’s meant to be eaten, not over-analyzed.

If it’s green, leafy, crisp, and free of chemicals, it’s safe, healthy, and good to eat. Adding such a food to your diet – in sauteed, steamed, boiled, dehydrated, baked, or raw form – will most likely help, so eat it! I’m not saying you have to eat three heaping platefuls of vegetation, like Terry Wahls did. I’m suggesting that adding leafy greens to a diet lacking in them will almost certainly improve the nutritional content of that diet.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I was just thinking this morning that I should make a big ass salad to go with my lunch. I actually have been craving one.

    I also find sometimes that I am best served listening to my body’s desires. Sometimes I really crave spinach and other times it almost revolts me. I just figure whatever nutrient is in it is just what I need, hence the craving. Also best to have some on hand for those days when I am having a sudden craving. :-)

    Happycyclegirl wrote on January 31st, 2012
  2. What’s the general view on chucking a load of leafy greens into a blender and blitzing them into a smoothie?

    Hugh wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I have the same question. About 3 months ago, I started making green based smoothies using kale most often as the base. I throw in other greens, sometimes spinach, sometimes broccoli etc… I also throw in a few garlic cloves, a number of spices and some cocoa powder. I take a full blender of that, split it in two, add some frozen berries and maybe a tomato and reblend. It leaves me with two full blenders good for six smoothies that I have over 3 days. I have one in the car while driving to work and another when I get home from my afternoon workout. About a month ago, instead of water I started using beet root juice that I make with a juicer and a bag of beets as the liquid. I actually like those even better.

      Believe it or not, when you finish, you actually come out with something that tastes not bad and I am assuming just has to be good for me.

      The rest of the time I tend to cook my veggies (usually steamed) so it is the primary way of getting raw veggies for me.

      Lot of ways to skin a cat.

      Mario Vachon wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • There are lots of advantages of eating “live” foods – i bought a juicer (omega 8005) and now, put in kale, celery, spinach, a little flax seed and lemon.
        LOTS of options for getting your nutrients through juicing. Read up on alkaline/acidic diets – (more meat, more acid) and see how much veggies can help out. I dont like eating tons of veggies like Grok did… so juicing is my way right now.

        Ali wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • I have read somewhere that it’s best to drink your green smoothie within 15 minutes of blending to get the most vitamins out of it. Does anyone know whether this is true?

        ltruss wrote on February 2nd, 2012
    • Green smoothies are the best thing on earth, far better than juicing in my opinion. I recommend to my clients drinking several a week (and I definitely practice what I preach). Add a bit of fruit in with the greens and boom – liquid gold.

      Abel James wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • think you may have convinced me to give this whole “green-smoothie” thing a try

        Becca wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • I make a spinach, banana, coconut oil, raw almond butter, cacao nibs smoothie that I got from Primal Toad every morning. I love it and I feel great knowing that I got a lot of spinach in first thing in the morning.

          Tracy Seman wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Yeah, Toad is the smoothie master. Check out his blog – he has some great smoothie concoctions!

          Abel James wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Do it! As Tracy and Abel noted, green smoothies are toadally awesome!

          I remember reading that our bodies can absorb 4x as many nutrients in greens from smoothies compared to raw greens. It seems logical as the blender does the chewing for us. It’s hard for us to break down greens. Cooking helps and so does a blender or food processor!

          I have lots of recipes at I have an ebook too of course.

          Primal Toad wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Guys! Try this one…it’s my favorite. GREAT for a raw green breakfast smoothie that is low in sugar and high in protein:

          -half a grapefruit (or 1 small one)
          -1 lemon
          -1 lime
          -ginger (any size chunk)
          -a few drops of real vanilla extract
          -a pinch of stevia (to taste)
          -handful of cilantro and parsley
          -kale and rainbow chard (can also add mustard greens, spinach, etc)
          -2 to 3 tbls spirulina powder

          Blend it all up and it’s done. I buy a TON of organic greens when they’re on sale and chop them up in a big freezer bag so all I have to do is dump some out and it’s ready for the blender. All washed and ready. Cuts down on prep time.
          I use a regular blender so mine has some nice chunks to chew on (which I actually like). Just make sure you check your teeth after this one folks. 😉

          NicoleK wrote on February 1st, 2012
        • Nicole K – How often do you drink that?! You use 2 to 3 TBSP or tsp of Spirulina Powder? I bought some of this stuff and tried it in a few smoothies and was disgusted. It’s hard for me to keep it down.

          This recipe sounds absolutely crazy….

          Primal Toad wrote on February 1st, 2012
        • Hey Toad-
          I know it sounds crazy…I thought the same thing. Try it and see. I drink 2 a week and would make it more often if I had more prep time to peel/de-seed all the citrus.
          The citrus, especially the grapefruit, totally kills the intensity of the spirilina (at least to my taste buds). I know what you mean about spirulina being nasty…I originally had it mixed into a vanilla protein shake…BLAH! DisGUSTing!! Like licking algae from a fish tank! lol
          Anyways, start out with 1 tablespoon and go from there. I usually just dump a bunch in which is approx 2-3 tablespoons. At 5 grams of protein per tablespoon I try to make it 10-15 grams of protein so I don’t have to supplement with anything else like whey or eggs separately. Let me know what you think.:)

          NicoleK wrote on February 1st, 2012
      • I just came across this article today about green smoothies not being great for optimal health (it’s completely anecdotal and has no evidence). Nonetheless, wondering the group’s thoughts. It seems that yes, the whole food would be more beneficial than the juice, but the juice isn’t bad, right?

        Jill wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Well, not to be mean, but this is coming from a Happy Herbivore site and the advice was taken from T. Colin Campbell…

          If you throw loads of fruit in with your smoothies then that may not be the best thing.

          Why not do 2-3 cups of spinach, 1 banana and some fat? That will taste yummy and come with loads of nutrition. Smoothies make the nutrients in greens more bioavailable.

          Primal Toad wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • I read the info at that site. Been giving some thought to the whole “to juice/smoothie or not” debate. There’s a bit of “science” given on both sides that sounds good. Bottom line for me is to test how my own body reacts. Given that the major objection seems to be blood sugar related, that’s easy to test at home.

          In general, I agree with Primal Toad – don’t throw a bunch of high fructose items into the blend – which is where I plan to start.

          Another thought is to allow each swallow of the drink to spend a little time in the mouth in order to mix with the amylase enzymes in saliva. Amylase is one of the enzymes in our bodies that works on carbohydrate – and carb digestion starts in the mouth.

          May not counter the objection about calorie burning via chewing but does counter the objection about what happens when we just gulp/chug down liquid food rapidly.

          rarebird wrote on February 1st, 2012
        • “Removing the fiber from food in order to consume solely the juice is a detriment.”

          That blog post is confusing green smoothies with juicing. Also, we all did the orange juice experiment in high school, right? Oxidation doesn’t happen THAT fast. While there is probably some evolutionary advantage to eating whole vegetables over drinking pureed ones, this article isn’t addressing them.

          Shruti wrote on February 10th, 2015
    • the fiber in them will make a green muck. if you want to deal with that, you can. a good juicer will give you the juice without the fiber content.

      richard wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I prefer blending/juicing to eating greens whole. It takes a load off your body’s digestive system so that you immediately gain the nutrients from the greens. Not to mention, its an easy way of getting four-five serving of greens in one drink!

      Alana wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I have put a handful raw spinach, some sprouts, a t of barley powder with a cup of water into a blender and made a green drink. I use Arugula or Romaine for salads.

      laura m. wrote on February 8th, 2012
  3. Indeed green leafy vegetables are a cornucopia of minerals and vitamins, but what (rough) percentage can we absorb as we don’t have a full on herbivore digestive tract. Isn’t cellulose hard for us to break down?

    I’ve heard it put … we get our greens by eating the animals that were meant to eat greens. How much truth is there to that?

    Aaron wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Most greens can be cooked, too, don’t forget. Cooking breaks down some of the bonds in the plant fibers (which is why cooked leaves get soft) which makes things more absorbable. And you cook them in some good butter or other healthy fat you’ll get more absorption of the fat-soluble stuff, too.

      The “I eat the animals that eat the greens for me” argument works better if you’re eating the whole animal, including all the squishy bits that most Westerners don’t like very much.

      Uncephalized wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Well, we are not mean to eat grass. That’s why we eat grass-fed beef…

      But, we are meant to eat greens. We can most definitely absorb nutrients from them. Let’s not dismiss all plant foods now… we are omnivores, not carnivores (and definitely not herbivores).

      Primal Toad wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • We are opportunistic feeders with heavy adaptations toward carnivorous feeding patterns and *away* from plant based nutrition. Carnivorous humans thrive, while meat the deprived (by the environment or self) waste away and become mere shadows of the vigorous, powerful and dangerous creatures they were designed to be. People who eat nothing but meat can survive prolifically, while people who eat nothing but plants are useless in any context other then highly advanced and fragile technology. The weight toward meat consumption is clear and objective, while the plant eating prerogative requires odd justification to stay afloat.

        John wrote on January 31st, 2012
  4. Some Conventional Wisdom has to be right even if it’s due to dumb luck :)

    Grokitmus Primal wrote on January 31st, 2012
  5. All of the minerals that are necessary for bone health are commonly found in bones, and in precisely the right proportion. I’m not going to stuff my gut full of non caloric plant matter all day when I can just eat some crispy wing tips and slow cook some beef bone into a stock, etc. I don’t think that copious green leaf consumption is highly represented in the evolutionary diet of humans, a point which I presume is still the foundation of good nutrition. It might be effective in the short term I suppose for getting your stomach food during a long weight loss phase, but it doesn’t seem like a very good deal for people that have already achieved the physique and metabolism of the ideal ancestral human and are just living their lives.

    John wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I think if you look at human history, you will see people eating lots of greens in the spring. I am not convinced that we need to eat tons of greens all year, certainly not at the level Wahls does. I think the best plan is to trust our bodies and listen for when they are hungry for greens.

      Harry Mossman wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Human history occurs exclusively in the agricultural era, so I’m not sure that drawing major clues from it regarding high quality nutrition is very enlightening. In any event, my body is never hungry for greens.

        John wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • I am with both of you. I get most of my minerals from bone broth, liver, slow-roasted bone-in meats, and marrow in the Fall and Winter but I do eat a good bit of leafy greens in spring and summer. Mark is right on, high animal and high plant diets do not have to be mutually exclusive! Eat seasonally, ya’ll!!

        Elizabeth wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • I do eat seasonally, because meat is in season all year round.

          John wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • John, with all your heavy meat eating you will die faster than a heavy smoker.

          Stanley wrote on April 24th, 2014
    • Hi John
      I just wanted to note that in her book, Dr. Wahls recommends drinking a cup of bone broth before every meal.

      Aoife wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • What book? I thought that she hadn’t found a publisher yet. That’s what her website says.

        rarebird wrote on February 1st, 2012
    • Hunter-Gatherers did a whole of gathering as well. Our ancestors ate everything they could get their hands on because hunting wasn’t always a sure thing. Remember they didn’t have supermarkets with meat counters. If hunting and gathering had been 100% reliable, we would never have fell for grain agriculture. Also, the further back you go the more we ate plants, so that has always been part of our genetic heritage as well.

      In short: Of course meat is the most calorically dense and has everything you need, but only if you’re eating the organ meats, too. Plants are good, too. Rather the type of plants one would gather out in the wild. Greens, berries, coconuts, fruits, tubers.

      David wrote on February 5th, 2012
  6. Great information, as always.

    I love greens. Unfortunately, they are something to be avoided or eaten sparingly if you tend to produce kidney stones, which I do. Believe me, if you have ever passed a stone, you will do just about anything to not have another one.

    Harry Mossman wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I was just thinking about this! I learned the hard way that spinach consumption can cause massive amounts of stones…

      Any advice on which to avoid? I tend to eat a decent amount of lettuce but have shied away from other greens ever since the worst month of my life.

      tim wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Kale is safe as it does not have high levels of oxalic acid which can cause kidney stones.

        Sabrina wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Actually, oxalate based stones are only one of several types of uroliths in humans. There are also calcium, struvite, uric acid, and more rare types (like cystine) that are usually associated with one of several genetic disorders.

          The same complexity regarding uroliths is true for our pets – both cats and dogs.

          Dietary and other guidelines vary based on what sort of stone is involved – although adequate hydration is generally important.

          For example, if the stone is a struvite, then acidifying the urine is important. However, the exact opposite is true for calcium stones. So, urine pH testing is a part of the basic first aid kit.

          Also, some stones – like struvite – only form if there is a bacterial infection (specific strains) present. In the case of struvite, the bacteria produce ammonia which in turn make the urine very alkaline – which then allows the constituents (mainly magnesium) to precipitate out of solution in the urine to form stones. Thus, having a complete UA (urinary analysis) is recommended.

          So forth and so on.

          rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • I’d also add to be sure you’re adequately hydrated. That’s key.

        Gydle wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Hydration is the most important factor but not the only one.

          Harry Mossman wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Yes, please be careful about quantity and frequency of greens in relation to your own health situation. Some people can tolerate more than others can. My brother was a wheat grass juice “junkie” for years, and ended up in intensive care for over a week because of oxalic acid crystal build-up. It took him over a year to recover from that crisis.

        I love, love, love spinach and other greens but try to be moderate in the amounts I hoover up. Plus I think the seasonal approach is a good one–more greens in winter, less in summer = overall balance.

        Marianne wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Well, sometimes moderation is a good idea – this situation being one of those times.

          rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Baby spinach is supposed to be safe.

        Harry Mossman wrote on January 31st, 2012
  7. Perfect timing! I was just emailing a friend who has been diagnosed with MS about the Terry Walh’s video. I will pass this great info on too!

    Crunchy Pickle wrote on January 31st, 2012
  8. Aaron,

    Traditionally in India, we cook combination of spinach, mustard greens and bunch of other leafy greens very slowly and for hours in ginger, chills, herbs, spices, ghee etc. Its slow cooked for 2-3-4 hours and squashed into almost pureed form. I think this increases the absorption of nutrients and makes it easy to digest.

    Amit wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • This is the way we cook it in Pakistan as well, except we add meat on the bone to it as well. In my experience, this is much easier to digest than raw or lightly cooked spinach. As someone whose gut has been decimated by Celiac, I find that I can only tolerate cooked greens. It’s a pity because I used to love crunchy salad greens.

      Sabrina wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • And, it’s the way my grandmothers in the South used to cook greens!

        shannon wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • I still cook greens this way!

          rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Dear Amit,

      If you have a good recipe will you share it with us? I adore saag and would love to be able to cook a large batch of Indian style greens to enjoy during the week.


      Flussgottin wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Second this request.

        rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • The traditional way to prepare greens in the Southern US is similar. For example, collards are cooked slow and long over low heat – with salt pork, bacon, bacon grease, ham hocks or something similar, minced onion, cider vinegar, and black pepper. The liquid – sometimes referred to as “pot liquor” is considered to be the most nutrient rich so is also consumed along with the greens.

      Given that these preparations were introduced into the American diet by African-Americans, part of the “Soul Food” cuisine, perhaps they represent an African influence similar to Middle Eastern/India cuisines.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • African? Wow – looks kinda Swedish to me. The juices from the Xmas ham are used to stew up shredded kale. Nom…. :)

        RedYetiDave wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Its a small world sometimes, isn’t it? Maybe the reason that so many diverse cultures use a similar approach to preparing greens is that it works so well. They taste better, digest better, and as some have mentioned here produce a sense of health/wellbeing after being consumed.

          rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Yes, I love this. I can’t eat platefuls of raw greens, ugh. But cooking them down with spices makes them a lot friendlier. I think I might try the crockpot for this.

      HillsideGina wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • A slow cooker would be perfect for cooking greens this way!

        rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • This sounds awesome! I LOVE ginger.

      Primal Toad wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Doesn’t it? And ginger would probably aid digesting the greens, wouldn’t it?

        rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  9. They are good when drowned in fat otherwise give them to the hamster.

    rob wrote on January 31st, 2012
  10. I’ve been anti-veggies for a long time. Eliminating them fixed long standing digestive troubles. My health hasn’t seemed to suffer but rather soar. But then I got pregnant…

    I’ve had one craving since I’ve been pregnant (13 weeks currently) and that is veggies. Lots of veggies. I was thinking about them incessantly in the early weeks until I finally caved in and started eating them again. They aren’t causing any big problems and I’m enjoying the heck out of them. I’ve always loved veggies but they have always done so much harm to me so I’ve avoided them. I wouldn’t say my digestion is ideal after adding them back, but it’s tolerable and I feel great otherwise!

    Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Congratulations Peggy!

      Best wishes for a trouble-free pregnancy and a happy, healthy new little person. :)

      Uncephalized wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Have you considered digestive enzymes specific to cellulose?

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • I use one called No-Fenol by Houston Enzymes. It’s pretty effective and has the added benefit of killing candida if taken on an empty stomach.

        Sabrina wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Am definitely going to give it a look. Not familiar with the phenol hypotheses.

          rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I heard on Robb Wolf’s podcast that during pregnancy, the immune system is depressed, therefore your autimmune symptoms related to intake of certain foods may have been changed for the time-being (saw on your blog you have celiac disease). Just a thought.
      Great post about homeschooling, by the way. My daughter is 3 and I have serious reservations about sending her to public school. The post was good food-for-thought.

      Nick wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Yeah, I know that about pregnancy. I would have thought that I would tolerate foods worse then. It’s hard to say right now what’s going on. I hadn’t tried vegetables for so long. It could be pregnancy or it could be some level of healing. Who knows!

        Thanks by the way!

        Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on January 31st, 2012
  11. I also wonder about the bioavailability of some of the greens that are traditionally cooked when eaten raw. I have recently been enjoying throwing some raw collards, or kale or mustards in my salad and have wondered if I am getting much out of them.

    Brak wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Cooking can benefit the nutrient value of vegetables, contrary to CW. Will make another comment sharing a link on the topic – which may take awhile to show up since evidently links require moderation.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  12. >>I’m not saying you have to eat three heaping platefuls of vegetation, like Terry Wahls did.

    And yet, that’s exactly what I did — gave myself a challenge in January, to eat 9 cups of veggies every day, in the categories she lists (3 cups leafy greens, 3 cups other veggies, 3 cups brightly colored veggies/fruit.)

    I’ve been primal for about 18 months. It’s been an amazing change. I am *healthy* for the first time in my life.

    But the difference between 9 cups of veggies/day and 6-7 that I was getting before? Is the difference between optimal health and merely good. The biggest difference is that my brain is *awake* every single morning. There are no longer bad days.

    So if you’re doing primal, and it’s great, but you want more, maybe try this bodyhack. It might be the kick you need.

    Rozska wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Thank you for sharing this experience and your conclusions.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Great to hear I am going to give it a try so I hope to have results like yours!

      Aoife wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Thanks for this post! I have been primal for a few months now. Felt great at first, still feel better than S.A.D. days, but not as great as those first few weeks. I am going to commit to doing this, too.

      Anonygrok wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Yeah, thanks for sharing this. I have MS and have mostly healed on a primal diet that eliminates my trigger foods, but I’ve been tired and getting some symptoms back lately. And it seems everywhere I turn these days, I see a mention of Terry Wahls! 9 cups sounds like SOOO much, but I think I might give it a try and see what happens!

      Kathy wrote on February 1st, 2012
  13. You hear that you should eat plants but the reaction is really – so what or why bother.

    Your point here is the clincher for me:

    “Unless you’re eating bones, drinking blood/meat juice, and eating hoof, fur, and tail, you’ll be missing out on magnesium, potassium, and calcium by excluding leafy greens.”

    I just can’t think of a good way to eat hoof or fur so by comparison a 9 cup size salad seems really appetizing…

    Thanks for giving reasons why you should eat plants and providing details about the nutrients.

    On the days I don’t feel like eating a salad, does anyone have a good fur, hoof, meat juice recipe?

    Stan Starsky wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Sure, for hooves, there’s always room for Jello. :)

      Eric wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • I add two packets of plain gelatine to my post training shake on heavy compound days. My joints and tendons are ready for another heavy training session for the same lifts a day or two earlier than when I don’t.

        John wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Thank you for this tip.

          rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
        • Since I started adding plain gelatin to foods, my nails have gotten much stronger. It seems reasonable that my joints and tendons have too.

          Harry Mossman wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Gelatin is made not only from the hooves of animals but also the skin, bones, and other collagen-containing connective tissues.

        The spare animal parts are ground up and pretreated before the collagen (the protein chains gelatin is made from) is hydrolyzed into gelatin. The exact methods of production vary greatly from one manufacturer to the next, but they all include a pretreatment step (whose process can vary depending on the type of collagen-containing material used).

        The pretreatment step is the reason gelatin is not a good source of calcium, magnesium, or potassium. In order to make the collagen extracting process efficient, the first step in pretreatment is using dilute acid solutions to remove calcium salts. Since Ca, Mg, and K are so chemically similar, even if a manufacturer only cared about extracting Calcium salts, it is likely that the chemically similar Magnesium and Potassium salts will be extracted as well. I suspect that most manufacturers want to extract these additional minerals as they will interfere with the process in the same way that calcium does.

        Sources… Wikipedia: collagen, gelatin; (I have a background in chemistry)

        This whole post has got me thinking about the plausibility of a nutrient-rich gelatin recipe (from the gelatin itself, not additions).

        Research Question: Would it be possible to partially hydrolyze the collagen without removing the calcium/magnesium salts, and if so would the end product be useable in much of the same fashion as gelatin?

        If I can come with the methods and materials for such an experiment, is anyone here interested in the results?

        Christin wrote on September 23rd, 2013
    • Actually, there is a very easy way to get sufficient calcium, magnesium, potassium via the “whole animal”.

      Canned wild (only way to go) salmon and canned sardines both include the skin and bones as well as the flesh. Just consume all of the contents – don’t try to pick out the bones and skin. Mash it all together when cooking with canned salmon – the bones are soft. You’ll get a great blend of minerals (including trace minerals like selenium) as well as good Omega 3 rich fats, several B vitamins, and vitamin D.

      Canned wild Salmon bones have always been “fun food” for me. My sister hated them so my mother always picked them out for her before making salmon patties or salmon loaf. Fine with me since I got the bones for a snack!

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • My Mom did the exact same thing! I still like to pick out and eat the tasty little bones.

        Kelly wrote on February 1st, 2012
        • I always eat a few of the bones before mashing the salmon for cooking. Its part of the fun of cooking with wild canned salmon.

          rarebird wrote on February 1st, 2012
      • Salmon loaf? That got my attention! Do you have a recipe you’d share with us? How about a primal salmon patty recipe?

        W. J. Purifoy wrote on February 3rd, 2012
        • Sure, I’d be happy to share what I can on the subject – with a few caveats. First one is that I am still relatively new to primal cooking so my old standby recipes are all being converted. Although, I have decided today that you can consider yourself past the total newbie stage when your dogs no longer act like Pavlov’s salivating dog every time you cook bacon! LOL

          Second, this post will be more of a cooking lesson than simply a cut and dried recipe. I will give guidelines for making – hopefully – primal versions of traditional salmon loaf/patties.

          Third, read this article (below) by Mark on edible seeds, especially flax. I use ground flax as a binder in my salmon loaf/patty recipes.

          Most recipes for salmon loaf or patties call for bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or cooked white rice. My mother used all three depending on what she had on hand or what version she was making. I replaced these items with ground flax seed years ago and my family has preferred my flax seed version from day one. So, when I went primal one of the first things that I did was check to see of I could retain flax seed in my diet.

          According to Mark, while he is not impressed by flax as a food, he doesn’t eliminate it out right from the diet. He doesn’t see much use for it – but I find it is useful as a binder in certain recipes.

          Flax does have carbohydrates – 14 grams per 3 tablespoons according to the label I am looking at right now. Used as a binder, it would be easy to overlook those carb grams, so please don’t do that – especially if you are on a nutritional ketone range of carb intake.

          OK, that’s all for “part one”. Be back in a minute with “part two”.

          rarebird wrote on February 3rd, 2012
        • Your comment is awaiting moderation.
          Sure, I’d be happy to share what I can on the subject – with a few caveats. First one is that I am still relatively new to primal cooking so my old standby recipes are all being converted. Although, I have decided today that you can consider yourself past the total newbie stage when your dogs no longer act like Pavlov’s salivating dog every time you cook bacon! LOL

          Second, this post will be more of a cooking lesson than simply a cut and dried recipe. I will give guidelines for making – hopefully – primal versions of traditional salmon loaf/patties.

          Third, read Mark’s article here at MDA on edible seeds, especially flax. I had originally included the link but that comment is still waiting moderation. I use ~freshly ground~ flax as a binder in my salmon loaf/patty recipes.

          Most recipes for salmon loaf or patties call for bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or cooked white rice to be used as a binder. My mother used all three depending on what she had on hand or what version she was making. I replaced these items with ground flax seed years ago and my family has preferred my flax seed version from day one. So, when I went primal one of the first things that I did was check to see of I could retain flax seed in my diet.

          According to Mark, while he is not impressed by flax as a food, he doesn’t eliminate it out right from the diet. He doesn’t see much use for it – but I find it is useful as a binder in certain recipes.

          Flax does have carbohydrates – 11 grams per 3 tablespoons according to the label I am looking at right now. Used as a binder, it would be easy to overlook those carb grams, so please don’t do that – especially if you are on a nutritional ketone range of carb intake.

          OK, that’s all for “part one”. Be back in a minute with “part two”.

          rarebird wrote on February 4th, 2012
        • Part two….

          I’m currently using Arctic Bay’s “Fresh Caught Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon”. In the PB book, Mark recommends wild caught Alaskan salmon as being relatively free of contaminants and nutritious – and I agree.

          Other considerations include what is added to the canned salmon. In the case of the product above, the entire ingredients are : “salmon and salt”. No plant oils and no fluoride.

          I bought this product at Aldi’s (by the case) and got a great price on it so stocked the pantry. Saving money (without sacrificing quality) doesn’t hurt, either – especially since I sometimes make large batches of salmon mix for loaves/patties and then freeze them ready to be cooked later. Not only is salmon loaf/patties an easy recipe its a great convenience food for busy times.

          I use the same basic recipe for both loaves or patties. The “salmon burger” recipe on the label of the product above is fairly representative – so I’ll share it here.

          1 can salmon

          1 egg, slightly beaten

          1/2 cup each chopped onion, finely chopped green pepper, and fresh whole wheat crumbs (I substitute ground flax in the same amount – either brown or golden works well).

          1 Tbs. lemon juice

          1 Tbs. grated lemon peel

          1/2 Tbs. rosemary, crushed

          1/8 Tsp. pepper

          Drain salmon. Flake. Combine ingredients. Mix well. Form into 4 to 5 patties. Pan fry in small amount of vegetable oil (I use butter or ghee) until browned.

          That’s the basic idea for patties. The same mix can be pressed into a buttered loaf pan and baked in a moderate (350 degree) oven until set – depending on the type of pan about 30 -45 minutes. The salmon is already cooked so the only thing that is raw is the egg. Just watch for the loaf to set up firmly and to brown a little if that’s what you want. I like mine a little browned (and to cook quickly) so I use metal mini loaf pans.

          I fry the patties in butter. Coconut oil would be good, too. Just don’t use olive oil this way as the heat isn’t good for it.

          I use a food processor to make basically a chunky paste of the vegetables and then add in the egg, lemon juice, peel, herbs and the (already) ground flax seed to pulse briefly in the processor. I grind my flax seed just before I use it in a Magic Bullet blender – but some people use a coffee grinder. The drained salmon is waiting in a big mixing bowl and I add the paste to it. I use my hands to mix the paste into the salmon until I like the consistency. Experiment.

          I play around with the herbs, sometimes using only dill or a mix with dill. Rosemary and parsley are staples in my kitchen so often that’s what I use. I also add sliced green olives and/or sliced green onion if the mix will be baked as a loaf. Pieces are better in a loaf than a pattie, IMO. You may disagree so – again – experiment.

          Have fun. Try new things. Add back a little of the drained salmon liquid. I give mine to the dogs, btw. Try coconut chips or nuts. Try other binders – like almond or coconut flour – or another type of ground seed. Add an extra egg. Whatever strikes your primal fancy. Just remember to keep the dry/wet ratio balanced so that the mix is not sticky nor failing to adhere by being too dry.

          rarebird wrote on February 4th, 2012
        • P.S. I didn’t specify the salmon can size – 14.75 ozs. I can’t recall ever seeing salmon in a different size can – but there it is if you need the info.

          rarebird wrote on February 4th, 2012
        • Those sound yummy. Coconut flour works as a binder, too. And, I have found sprouted flax seed powder from Nutra Sprout on Amazon. Figure less antinutrients if it is sprouted.

          Tina wrote on February 5th, 2012
        • Thanks, Tina. That sprouted flax powder sounds interesting – will look into it. Not only less anti-nutrients but also more nutrition than unsprouted flax seed. Evidently the role of phytate is to bind the nutrients to the seed making them available for the plant’s use after sprouting – via phytase.

          I’m still learning about the anti-nutrients and I wonder how to balance the pros with the cons. Evidently its the phytates that are associated with reduced colon cancer (among other pros) via binding cancer causing agents in the intestines. They also appear to reduce uroliths (like kidney stones) by binding excess minerals.

          The ant-nutrient aspect seems to only be a genuine issue for people with marginal nutrition – and/or vegetarians with a large whole grain consumption – in the first place. So, like I said – still learning and the jury’s still out for me.

          rarebird wrote on February 7th, 2012
  14. I know our early hominids were more scavengers than us so they could probably digest vegetables better than us and in more recent times, humans with excellent health would ferment or cook their vegetables. How well were our digestive tracts designed to consume vegetables compared to our early hominid ancestors and other animals that are ruminants or hind gut digesters?

    Edward wrote on January 31st, 2012
  15. My hubby makes a big-ass-salad for his lunch every day. I’m not so dedicated but I do enjoy it when I do…

    gilliebean wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • haha, I LOVE big-ass-salads

      Becca wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Most days I also enjoy a big ass salad for lunch. My father has followed my path as well. It used to be a sandwich for us both. No more!

      Primal Toad wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Primal Toad, you are adorable. I love your posts and blog.

        Anonygrok wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I ate big ass salads before going primal and I will continue to – just not every day and more often in the summer when the fresh local produce is available.

      rarebird wrote on February 1st, 2012
  16. Raw leafy greens seem to disagree with me, and cooked greens only go well with bacon grease or butter. I don’t have as many salads as I used to because of this. But I don’t shy away from offal like liver.

    Eric wrote on January 31st, 2012
  17. I always try to force myself to eat more veggies, I feel like I can’t just take roasted chicken to work with me and need to add some veggie side.

    I’ve made them many different ways to try and find a variety I like, but there are very few ways I enjoy them. I recently found one that I enjoy very much but it’s just sauteed red onions and shiitake mushrooms in some extra virgin olive oil, no greens added.

    PN wrote on January 31st, 2012
  18. Murray S et. al. “Effect of cruciferous vegetable consumption on heterocyclic aromatic amine metabolism in man.” Carcinogenesis. 2001 Sep;22(9):1413-20.

    It wasn’t absorption, but this suggested that brussels sprouts and broccoli increase the body’s ability to detoxify mutagenic amines.

    Tim wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • There is a free full text version of this study available online via I wonder if there is a more recent study though. Did you look?

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  19. Thank you, Mark, for this very informative post! I try to eat my greens every day, and I’m glad I’m getting all those amazing nutrients.

    Christine LeClair wrote on January 31st, 2012
  20. I love greens. I don’t typically eat them raw because they cause me digestive issues. I eat salad once in awhile but I usually regret it later. My favorite way to eat them is to cook spinach, chard, or romaine (yes I cook lettuce its pretty good!) in the leftover drippings from my meat. So good! I definitely need them for energy and mental clarity… without them I feel tired and sluggish.

    Mary wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I love a hot lettuce salad! Great way to use saved bacon grease, too. Think I’ll make a hot salad to go with the wild salmon patties tonight. Thanks


      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  21. You see? Our mothers were right about vegetables after all! And whenever you’re stuck eating cafeteria food, the salad bar will save you every time.

    Topline Foods wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Ahh, but the salad bar at my work is: one bin of iceberg lettuce, one bin of crappy watery romaine, one SMALL bin of spinach that dissappears very fast, and only like 8 bins of salad toppings, 7 of which are beans, corn, and soybeans. Oh and a couple vats of sugary PUFA dressings.

      cTo wrote on January 31st, 2012
  22. I too am wondering about cooked versus raw greens. Too many raw ones (or any vegetable) give me digestive issues. Also, many raw greens just taste gross (bitter)… almost like we shouldn’t be eating them. Seems that Grok would not eat a pile of raw leafy greens if they tasted gross (bitter) and hurt his stomach. Right? The taste can definitely be masked in a green smoothie, but I’m still wondering if we were meant to eat these raw bitter greens/if they should in fact be cooked or not?

    Sara wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • When I lived in the Ozark mountains, some of the locals had a tradition of eating wild bitter greens as part of the spring tonic ritual. The “wise” plant gatherers knew what plants, what part of the plant, what time of the plant grown cycle, and what preparations were needed. Often if not done properly, these same plant food could be toxic or even poisonous.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Many people like the bitter taste, including me. How about dark chocolate, strong coffee, olives, lemon, citrus peel and beer? I also like gin and tonic. Bitter would not have put Grok and Grokina off.

      Harry Mossman wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • I like the bitter taste, too – in small amounts. However, it was an acquired taste.

        There is a genetic variation where an extra set of biter receptors are located on the tongue’s “taste buds” – along the side of the tongue. Those “lucky” (about 1 in 10,000) people can taste bitter elements in food that most other people don’t – or at least not so acutely. So, I wonder about what our ancestors actually tasted with bitter plants/foods and what the role of this genetic variation might be.

        rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  23. Thanks for the post, Mark. Has anyone tried those powdered “greens supplements”?

    Matt wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • A lot of these powdered green supplements have a TON of powdered BEANS in them.

      I doubt humans were out on a field (much like elk) and grazed on green stuff….

      We were build to reach up high to avoid contamination of parasites. And what is higher off the ground? Flowers (most are edable like roses), nuts (hazelnuts), Rose Hip (bioflavonoids), fruit (blueberries in forests, sour apples on trees).
      Our mostly animal diet was supplemented by a small amount of plants. I doubt a Neanderthal wife would prepare a salad for her husband coming home from a day of hard work. Besides, how would you prepare something leafy green if you don’t have a pot to cook it in?
      Roasting is an old way of cooking…the actual pot that holds water is still fairly young. Not to mention all the seasoning/salt/butter you need to make veggies tasty…Grok didn’t have any of that.

      Arty wrote on January 31st, 2012
  24. Does Dr. Wahls measure the 9 cups before or after cooking? 3 cups of raw greens cooks down a lot to a regular serving, but 3 cups of cooked greens would be a really large serving.

    shannon wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Dr. Wahls describes 3 cups as a heaping dinner plate full, and shows a slide of a big plate of salad, so I’m pretty sure she’s measuring it before cooking. 3 cups of cooked greens would fill me up for the whole day with no room for anything else!

      Also, from all my reading, many greens really do need to be cooked at least slightly in order to cut down on the oxalates and goitrogens (please excuse the spelling, I don’t have time to go look it up right now…) that cause kidney problems, and also to break down the cell walls a bit so we can get at the nutrients. One suggestion I have seen is to steam the greens before you throw them in your green smoothie, and you’ve got the best of both worlds. And always eating greens with some fat will help a lot, too.

      Alice wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • I’ve been using raw greens in smoothies, but I’m going to try steamed or parboiled. Thanks!

        HillsideGina wrote on January 31st, 2012
  25. I don’t think some of us humans evolved eating a ton of green stuff.
    I say this because I’ve suffered from digestive distress (mostly hard stools,constipation) my entire life and going primal did NOT resolve this (just a little).
    When I ditched the fibrous green stuff all of a sudden my bowel movements were without symptoms and regular and my colon finally healed.
    I keep pasture to a minimum because I believe my ancestors did NOT evolve on them, my body is telling me so.
    We also lack the bacteria that produces the enzyme necessary to break down cellulose. These vegetables ferment until the end of time in your gut causing leaky gut syndrome and a toxic blood stream.
    All I need is 2 cups of Kale and I’m f*—d beyond believe.

    I can get all of my vitamins and minerals from animal source (bone, heart, kidney, lung, brain, eyeballs, marrow, pancreas, salivary, spleen, thymus, thyroid, raw cream)

    Arty wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • The important thing is that you know to eat, as someone above put it, “the squishy bits that most Westerners don’t like”.

      Side note – Your guts can be effed up before Primal/Paleo to the point that, even after switching, you continue to have problems. Check out the FODMAP and GAPS diets; they’re all about repairing your digestive system. As an example, Peggy the Primal Parent was completely unable to handle veggies, but seems to be doing better (though not ideal) on them currently.

      Tyler wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • You know, I think that you are on to something here.

      I wondered when I first made the transition to primal what effect it would have on my stools to eliminate grain and legume based fiber. I usually eat more salads in the warm months and more (lower fiber) veggie soup and cooked veggies in the winter – so I wondered about that too.

      I didn’t fool around when I made the transition this winter. I took one day to do a total purge of the pantries and to restock.

      I started with “easy” food like bacon and eggs. I intend to gradually add in more variety via allowable fruit and veggies and new primal recipes and foods. But, so far I have been eating only about one apple a day (always with home made almond butter) and frozen cooked veggies like cole mixes or green beans.

      Also, I have continued to make my staple chicken and vegetable soup that never had grains or legumes anyway. Only one change – I retained the fat when I made the stock.

      According to CW, I ought to be having problems with “regularity” right now – but I absolutely am NOT! I am as regular and healthily so as anyone could ask for. I think its the higher fat intake. I think that only on a low fat diet do we need the added fiber and sometimes sugar to be regular. That’s what my body is telling me anyway.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  26. wow that ted talk video was overwhelming!

    I have been practicing the primal hunter-gatherer diet as described in primal blueprint for 18 months. It basically fixed my hyperthyroidism. I will never eat another way.

    I am wondering what peoples thoughts on juicing some of these vegetable is? Or is the fiber part of the benefit?

    thank you all for your inspiration

    Jeff wrote on January 31st, 2012
  27. And don’t forget about the wild greens. Dandelion, chicory, lamb’s quarters, etc. are delicious and FREE.

    Stan the Man wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I just went outside and easily found 3 cups of wild greens: chickweed and cress (or creasy greens as they’re called in the South). I added some parsley and blueberries and put it all in the blender.

      shannon wrote on January 31st, 2012
  28. Thank you for a very helpful article. I’ve heard sometime ago that some vegetables need cooking and others better served raw, but I can’t remember which is which now.

    It would be great if you add an article which vegetables are better served cooked etc.


    Bong Kim wrote on January 31st, 2012
  29. I wonder if there’s a reason why virtually all cultures cook their greens. I know that in China, Japan and the Indian subcontinent, greens are very rarely consumed raw. A Japanese friend once commented that Americans eat “rabbit food.” He was surprised that salads were consumed so frequently and in such large quantities. Does anyone know why traditional cultures cook their greens?

    Sabrina wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • For some cultures, cooking was for food safety reasons.

      Page wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • i dont’ know why we cook it traditionally. yes, most vegetables are cooked (lightly) or fermented. cause we don’t eat “rabbit” food, haha.

      uncooked green disagree with my digestion & few of us. i don’t know if this is genes tho. anyway, i rarely eat salad for this reason.


      pam wrote on February 7th, 2012
  30. Beyond Veg has a great series on raw vs. cooked foods. For quick reference, here is there chart for vegetables.

    Kelly wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • That should say, their chart for *some* vegetables, because meat’s on there too…

      Kelly wrote on January 31st, 2012
  31. You can make your green smoothies cooked if you have one of those super blenders like a Kitchen Ninja, Vitamix etc. Just throw it all in and let it run until it starts to steam. Pour it in a bowl with some sour cream or butter on top. More of a soup really but the same idea.

    DB wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I have friend who swears by her Vitamix and she’s been urging me to get one. Maybe now I’ll reconsider.

      I use a Magic Bullet and a Green Power cold press juicer – which ironically I bought for juicing wheat grass. Of course, I’m not far enough along into learning about the primal lifestyle to know if the wheat grass is as unacceptable as the wheat grain. After all, wheat, rye, and other grain producing grasses are often what’s in the seed blend in a pasture where (some) grass fed meat is raised/finished.

      Anyway, in the PB 21 day book Mark states that fruit AND vegetable juices (sans pulp) have a high sugar content that can cause insulin issues so its better to stick with whole foods – even though juices are supposed to have high nutrient value otherwise. I’ve heard other people say the same thing about juicing.

      I intend to continue to do my at home blood sugar testing for everything I eat and drink – and trust nothing after the way that supposedly low glycemic whole oats spiked my blood sugar causes reactive hypoglycemia. If any juice I make does that, I will then include it in a high fat smoothie or other food recipe and test how the combination affects my blood sugar. I may end up getting rid of the juicer but I want to see how my body reacts first.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  32. Did any of you naysayers of leafy greens watch Terry Wahl’s video?? I don’t care if we can prove that the ancients did or did not eat exactly that much vegetation when someone TODAY has radically changed her life by the inclusion of them her diet. Your brain may not be an obvious mess YET, but why wait for disaster to hit?! I happen to love leafy greens sauteed in bacon fat, so they are an easy inclusion in my diet. Roska might have hit on something, because whenever I eat them I feel fantastic the following day!

    Patti wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I don’t know if you’d consider my remarks as “naysaying” or not – but – I did watch the video. Of course its a powerful message, wonderful to see Terry healed, and to know that clinical trials are underway.

      What I wonder though is – did anyone watching the video notice that during the section (starts around 8 minutes in) on ancient hunter/gatherer foraging traditions that she compared two diverse cultures – the cold climate Inuit to the hot climate African Savannah.

      She stated that while each culture consumed widely different food sources, that each diet produced high levels of nutrition. It was on this basis that she then went on to create a healing diet for herself with her available food sources and with her context (i.e. industrial pollution) in mind.

      For me, one of the take aways is that a diet can vary along some lines – but not along others – and still be optimally healthy. Look at what the two divergent diets had in common – no processed foods, organic foods, foods that required an expenditure of energy to obtain or to prepare, and food that provided all the necessary nutrients. To that basis, Terry added foods – like sea vegetable derived iodine – that provide a protective value needed in the polluted industrial environment.

      Inuits don’t eat salads, or smoothies, or fresh fruit. Inuits primarily eat fish, sea mammals, and land mammals – lots of fat and sea vegetables. But, Inuits also live in very cold conditions year round. So, their bodies use energy in a specific way – think of those recent studies on brown fat.

      The people of the hot African Savannah would include, for example, the Maasi. They mainly eat milk and cow’s blood – followed by sheep and goat meat, which I assume like the Inuit includes the whole animal.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • PS. Terry also points out that by getting our fill on foods other than dairy, grains, and legumes, we are just naturally avoiding common food allergies and intolerances – which is healthy for a lot of people. She doesn’t go into the fact that the ancient foragers sometimes – like the Maasi – did consume milk and other forms of dairy. But, the point is still well made and taken.

        rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  33. I finally perfected my kale recipe, cooked with lots of hog jowl, organic chicken or beef broth, vinegar, a lil crushed red pepper and a smidge of Stevia.

    Now, duh! I realize I should also add in ham bone, so I can get the benefits of the bone broth, too.

    Great post! I really need this reminder.

    Grokiana wrote on January 31st, 2012
  34. I love the Nori Chips from the Well Fed Book. Delicious!

    adrienne wrote on January 31st, 2012
  35. I’m really surprised at all the veggie-hate here! I guess to each his own, but if *my* choices are hooves and brains or kale and chard, it’s really no contest. Funny – five years ago I hardly ever ate vegetables; now I am genuinely excited when kale pops up in my CSA bin!

    Kristy OT wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • It’s really not a choice between hooves and brains or kale and chard. That was a dichotomy presented in a tone of humor. Brain is quite delicious however, and the nutritional quality of vegetation (if even digestible) doesn’t even compare.

      John wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • haha. i don’t hate vegetables; i only hate salad (cold & uncooked vegetables) + i don’t like spend so much time chewing.

      also due to mild hypothyroidism, i don’t want to overdo cruciferous (goitrogenes)


      pam wrote on April 7th, 2012
  36. I’ve always thought of the bottom the Primal Food Pyramid as vegetables and strive to get 10-12 servings a day. This requires juicing some of the veggies or I’d never get through it all. I’m a cancer survivor and several of my cancer books stress the importance of large amounts of veg in the diet. Some of them also caution against eating much meat especially red meat. The charge here is that it contains high amounts of absorbable iron and that tumors like iron. I still eat red meat but grass fed typically and only about once a week or twice a month. I fill in with fish, eggs, chicken, pork, and whey protein.

    Back to eating veggies, though, I feel that high amounts of them in the diet have been so beneficial. I feel great, have plenty of energy, and my blood work comes back “ridiculously normal”. Of course, I also think it helps that I also try to follow the other elements of the PB (exercise, sleep, relaxation, etc.)

    As for those who don’t want to eat their veggies, they may be on to something in thinking that there is a genetic component here. There is an alternative cancer doctor treating people with good success and part of his protocol is to first do a metabolic test on a patient’s hair sample in order to determine if they are genetically a meat eater or vegetarian or to which side they are disposed. He then designs a diet based on that and claims that natural meat eaters do not do well on a vegetarian regimen.

    Tina wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Interesting about the doc who checks if a person is genetically a meat eater or vegetarian. Do you have any other information about his work? Maybe that’s why so many people, even on this site, differ in their opinions on how much meat compared to veggies. I just find that intriguing.

      LizS wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Hi Liz, thank you! I feel very fortunate to say the least. The doctor I mentioned was profiled in the book Knockout: Interviews With Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer and How to Prevent Getting It In the First Place. You may be thinking Suzanne Somers??? I sort of did, too, but was impressed with the success rates and rationales behind the various therapies described as well as the patient testimonials. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the doctor who was testing his patients before designing a diet for them and I already returned the book to the library.

        I agree with rarebird that probably many people are mixed in terms of their relative predispositions towards eating meat vs. vegetables. I feel that way myself. Something in me balks at massive quantities of meat but I do want it periodically. I’m a mutt: 1/4 Hispanic, 1/4 Italian, and half Scandinavian so what I’m genetically predisposed to eat is anyone’s guess.

        I can see why HillsideGina might come to the conclusion she does but remember that differences between races in terms of reactions to foods and drugs have been documented. Native American and Japanese intolerance to alcohol, for example. Rates of alcoholism are much lower in Mediterraneans who have been drinking it for over 5,000 years. A specific enzyme for processing alcohol is higher for them than in populations who have not been consuming it for as many generations. Species can evolve and adapt to foods, it just takes a long time. Those who have been consuming a particular food the longest not surprisingly are generally more adapted to it. In that context, it makes sense that some people might be geared to a more meat-rich diet and others more toward a diet heavier in vegetables.

        Tina wrote on February 1st, 2012
    • And congratulations on surviving cancer! Best wishes to you Tina!

      LizS wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Dittos!

        rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I think that alternative cancer doctor is onto something – but there may also be a third category that needs a balance of animal and plant foods such as vegetables.

      Btw, some plants (like spinach) are also a source of iron. Maybe the form of iron matters, I don’t know.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • That’s true from what I’ve read about the iron and thank you for mentioning it but, if I recall correctly, the iron in red meat is highly absorbable but is less so in vegetables. I don’t worry about it because I figure the benefits and cancer-fighting constituents in greens outweigh the potential downside. ps. I replied above to your other point and thank you for the “dittos”!

        Tina wrote on February 1st, 2012
    • This does not make sense. Humans all have the same digestive systems. The only variable there is that many humans’ systems are rather messed up by SAD diets.

      HillsideGina wrote on January 31st, 2012
  37. Hi have relapsing remitting MS. I was diagnosed in 2003 when I was 25 years old. It was quite a shock since I’ve always been “healthy” and athletic. When I took a look at what I was eating, I realized it was anything but healthy. All processed, low fat, wheat fueled foods.

    Back then I didn’t know about Paleo, so I did a South Beach Diet hybrid. Not only did I drop those last 5 lbs but I felt better and more energized than I had in all my life.

    I fell off the wagon for awhile, still eating “healthy” but wheat based. I had another exacerbation..and I felt sick and bloated all the time!

    Come to find out I’m highly allergic to wheat!

    So now I’m paleo and I feel happier, cleaner, and I haven’t had a MS attack since 2008. I’m a fitness instructor/personal trainer livng a wonderful life.

    People who don’t believe eating your meats and vegetables can absolutely change your life for the better, are missing out!

    Alexis wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Congrats! Do you have any opinions on the recent reevaluation that MS may not be the disease that we have thought it was in the first place, but something else more along the lives of celiac disease? And, what about the spontaneous and intermittent remissions that are seen in MS? Do you think that Terry’s improvement could be explained (at least in part) that way? Not that we don’t all benefit significantly from improved nutrition!

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  38. I just made up a green herb gumbo this week-end. My wife baked a ham and I used the bone to make the broth and diced up some ham. I added: kale, green cabbage, spinach, watercress, mustard greens, parsley, green bell pepper, onion, and probably more. Add spices to your taste. I used cayenne and a Vietnamese garlic/pepper sauce.
    Similar recipe:–gumbo-des-herbes-recipe-a143728

    tom scott wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Excellent! Thanks for sharing. Now I know exactly what I’ll do with that ham bone in the fridge.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012

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