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 eat salad every day~ Before I eat dinner. HUGE salad. Hubby always laughs at me. He also has started to eat salad every night before he eats dinner. Sometimes two bowls. He doesnt add the leafy greens like spinach and other baby greens like I do, but its a step in the right direction. When I eat the rest of my dinner I also have other veggies, either raw or steamed or roasted. My kids get small portions of salad, but also eat other veggies with dinner.

    I’ve started adding spinach to my morning smoothies. cant even taste it! I’ve got some kale left over after making chips, and I will be adding that tomorrow morning!

    Leafy greens have to be one of my favorite parts of eating! I’ve always devoured my greens!!! I remember as a small child LOVING cooked spinach! Put a dab of vinegar on there and TASTY stuff!

    I’m going to try the gelatin in my smoothies~ I’ve got many joint issues, and I’ve been unable to stomach drinking it in water…

    Angelia wrote on January 31st, 2012
  2. I just watched Dr. Wahl’s vid. How inspiring! Curing what ails us with food. Wild concept.

    I went to an early IMAX film last Sunday morning. Hard to believe how many people were scarfing down popcorn, soft drinks & other assorted trash at 10:30 in the morning! The smell was making me really queasy. Not to mention all that rustling of paper & cellophane.

    PrimalPotter wrote on January 31st, 2012
  3. Will any smart folk let me know how much worse the bags of kale, turnip greens, collard greens etc at the supermakret vs the fresh stuff. I can’t deny that it is far more convenient, and takes care of most of my prep time. Granted this could be a good/perfect thing.

    Jim wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • I think most of the stuff in a good grocery store is pretty good. That said, when I compare it to the appearance and keeping quality of homegrown or locally grown, you can see the difference: storebought conventionally grown produce doesn’t taste or look as good, and it goes bad quicker.

      shannon wrote on January 31st, 2012
  4. I am siding with those who talk about too many leafy greens leading to kidney stones etc. I had kidney stones and had a UA done ( Urine Analysis ) and I have dangerously high levels of Oxalic Acid in my body and high amounts of creatine from the Primal Diet. What would you suggest someone eat as far as leafy greens?

    DBauchle wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • What did your doctor tell you about getting that Oxalic Acid level down or about what foods to avoid/consume?

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • My doctor said I couldn’t eat chocolate, spinach, tea, rhubarb, swiss chard, etc. Other items high in Oxalic acid were berries, and all nuts, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli etc. So i’m lost lol

        DBauchle wrote on February 1st, 2012
  5. Arty is right that human’s don’t produce the digestive enzymes in their bodies that work on the cellulose in plants. See the quote below from the wikipedia.

    I have been taking a digestive enzyme blend that includes these enzymes for awhile. Now, I am rethinking this notion, based on the premise underlying the PB of how our bodies evolved. After all, its about how we metabolize energy, right?

    Well, without cellulose digestive enzymes, our bodies can’t release the energy in cellulose. Which in turn makes me wonder more about how we actually absorb nutrients that are possibly bonded to the cellulose – as in our discussions about cooking vegetables, fermenting vegetables, etc.

    “In the most familiar case of cellulase activity, the enzyme complex breaks down cellulose to beta-glucose. This type of cellulase is produced mainly by symbiotic bacteria in the ruminating chambers of herbivores. Aside from ruminants, most animals (including humans) do not produce cellulase in their bodies and can only partially break down cellulose through fermentation, limiting their ability to use energy in fibrous plant material. Enzymes that hydrolyze hemicellulose are usually referred to as hemicellulase and are usually classified under cellulase in general. Enzymes that cleave lignin are occasionally classified as cellulase, but this is usually considered erroneous.”

    rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012

    Culinary Shocker: Cooking Can Preserve, Boost Nutrient Content Of Vegetables
    ScienceDaily (Dec. 24, 2007) —

    In a finding that defies conventional culinary wisdom, researchers in Italy report that cooking vegetables can preserve or even boost their nutritional value in comparison to their raw counterparts, depending on the cooking method used.

    rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  7. The issue of how much and what kind of veggies to eat is the main reason would call myself archevore not primal if i had to label myself (which I don’t), although Dr. Harris seems to be going off the deep end in his flame war with Don Matesz. Harris’ William Munny Eats His Vegetables post strikes me as the right approach.

    I can’t argue with Dr. Wahl’s success. That approach may be right for some people. But I don’t see any paleolithic justification for it. And eating that much low carb veg, you have to exclude or limit starchy veg (according to Mark). But seems pretty clear that paleolithic people ate plenty of roots and tubers.

    Harry Mossman wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Dr. Wahl’s approach is clearly hugely beneficial for her health.

      However, that does not mean that her view on what MS is and what it does and how the diet works is correct in part or in total. I hope that the clinical trials are informative. To date there is little or no evidence that any of the multitude of alternative MS treatments has any value.

      The jury is still WAY out on how to classify MS. There is a class of diseases/disorders known as mitochondrial disorders, and MS is NOT one of them. The current thinking is that its an autoimmune disorder. If that’s the case, then the most relevant action of her diet is the anti-inflamatory effects.

      There are also many things that cause the brain to shrink – including low-carb diets and eating only veggies. Brain shrinkage does not always equate with a loss of function.

      So on and so forth.

      rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  8. Remember that Dr. Wahls was treating herself out of a terrible illness. Her diet is not a “blueprint” for a regular diet per se. That said, I was influenced enough to make sure to widen my veggie selections and add greens to soups and smoothies. I can’t possibly eat 9 cups of vegetables a day, and as it is I don’t like to eat Big Ass Salads. But if I were ill with a degenerative disease or with cancer, I would find a way to make my diet fight my illness like she did.

    Hillside GIna wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • There really is no telling from the anecdotal (data set of 1) evidence what was the cause of the recovery. It could have been the addition of a lacking nutrient, coming from ANY source whatsoever…it could have been the subtraction of a deleterious substance, again coming from ANY source whatsoever…it could even have been any of the above and any combination thereof in relation to a very specific genetic profile not found in most humans. It’s impossible to know, which is why anecdotal evidence is essentially useless for anything other than inspiring an emotional reaction.

      John wrote on January 31st, 2012
      • Well, John, I agree what your assessment – although I think that anecdotal evidence can be the basis for forming a hypothesis which can then be tested. THEN we may possibly have some evidence.

        Anyway, in this instance – the entire “Wahls Protocol (TM)” consists of: “nutrition, meditation, massage, exercise and neuromuscular electrical stimulation.” Visit her website to see this information. I won’t share the link because another comment that I made yesterday with a link is still waiting on moderation.

        Unfortunately, and against the advice of her colleagues, Dr. Wahls has violated fundamental principles of research design and methodology in creating the clinical trials to test the “Wahls Protocol (TM)”.

        For example, she does not have an independent trial for testing the effects of nutrition alone, let alone attempting to tease apart the possible relevant variables – (i.e. antioxidant, anti- inflammatory, vitamin, mineral…..)

        Yes, at some point testing the entire protocol at once will be useful. But, now is not that time. Now is the time for sifting through the entire set of interventions to see what each intervention may offer in its own. For instance, the neurostimulation that Dr. Wahls undertook with a PT is a very potentially powerful intervention in its own right.

        But, she seems so enamored of the whole paleo diet thing that she may be emotionally swept up in it to the point of seriously losing objectivity. Call me cynical if you wish, but she is focusing her PR efforts on the one aspect on the whole protocol that she can lay any proprietary claims to. More on that subject below.

        Her hypotheses about MS fly solidly in the face of the current thinking and body of evidence about MS. While I am the last person to scoff at challenging the scientific status quo – something which I have done in my own work many times, sometimes with excellent results – in this case I am concerned.

        Her reasoning isn’t terribly sound scientifically in the first place. Add in the facts that she is (1) already ~selling~ her protocol commercially and (2) has people (like Mark in the initial link he made to her video) making claims of a “cure” for MS….

        Well, we may be witnessing a perfect example of how NOT to get potentially beneficial interventions accepted into the treatment protocols or tested by other, independent researchers. Could be a real shame.

        rarebird wrote on February 1st, 2012
        • I totally agree with you on all parts of your post. None of this has been tested. I feel Dr. Wahls is using her MD cred to promote an obviously healthy diet, but I also have reservations for anybody claiming to have “cured” MS to promote their book. She’s not the first to do it, either.

          My opinion? I think she is enjoying a really good remission.

          I decided on the PB path (and to her credit, Dr. Wahl’s path)to cut down on inflammation, and to see just how it might help my own MS.

          Guitar_grrrl (Lisa) wrote on April 14th, 2012
  9. Ok, I love the idea and agree with eating more greens. The problem is, no matter how. Try a few bits into a salad and I’m not thrilled! So reading some of the comments I may give Toad’s smoothies a go. I have 2 small kiddos so I need convenience usually when it comes to my lunch.

    Raclbaby2000 wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Juice ’em, baby, juice ’em! I do carrot, celery, kale, and cucumber juice with lemon juice squeezed in plus a few dashes of hot sauce. It’s pretty good, I have to say. Combine that and the blueberries at breakfast and I’ve had 5-6 servings of veg/fruit before lunch.

      Tina wrote on February 1st, 2012
      • Thanks Tina! I’ll have to give it a go. Wonder if I could juice them with the blender? Don’t have the budget to get a juicer right now unless there is a cheap/good one I’m not aware of?

        Raclbaby2000 wrote on February 1st, 2012
        • The Jack Lalanne PowerJuicer works really well and is considered toward the lower end (475-$130 depending on model), though not the cheapest. But, you don’t have to have a juicer as you can definitely blenderize them. I don’t have extensive experience with it but have read of plenty of people who do use blenders to process veggies. My guess is that you will need to be patient and let the blender do its work, possibly even add some water to get it to the consistency you want. Take some of the pressure off it by removing the tough-to-process stuff like ribs from kale. Oh, and check out The blogger got some great recipes on there.

          Parting thought on incorporating more veggies: for me, greens become a downright pleasure when topped with delicious little emissaries of fat as with salad with nuts (pistachios), kalamata olives, blue cheese, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Kale and/or spinach becomes a wonderful thing when braised with bacon and onion and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. And I love collard greens with bacon, onions, red pepper flakes and a little cider vinegar. Pressure cooking them means they are ready in 20 minutes!

          Another great source of greens is the Indian dish Palak Paneer, a spinach dish with spices, butter, and cubes of cheese. If you live near a Trader Joe’s, they sell an awesome frozen entree of it and it is relatively inexpensive. Hope that helps. I know if you dig around the internet you can find some recipes that will work for you. Good luck!

          Tina wrote on February 1st, 2012
        • Edit: that should have been $75-$130 on the juicer cost.

          Tina wrote on February 1st, 2012
        • Thanks so much for all the no Tina! I almost had a heart attack when I saw 475! Lol! Creamed Kale is one of my favorites, definitely will make some of the yummy dishes you mentioned. sadly though, no Trader Joe’s nearby :( maybe someday!

          Raclbaby2000 wrote on February 4th, 2012
        • **Info not no

          Raclbaby2000 wrote on February 4th, 2012
        • Yeah, $475 would give me a heart attack, too! I’m happy if any of that info was helpful to you. We had the Omega Low Speed Vert which I could have sworn we paid $250 for but looking on google is now listing at $380. (Though I think this is a newer model.) It was good but too slow and I had to dig the pulp out of the output shoot to keep it coming. Now, we have the Breville Juice Fountain Elite which I love and which buzzes through veggies including the normally hard-to-juice kale leaves like nobody’s bidness. It retails around $300 but I found it on sale for $280 and we use it 5-6 days a week really which makes it worth it.

          Tina wrote on February 4th, 2012
  10. Spot on…amen brother!!!

    dasbutch wrote on January 31st, 2012
  11. So Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants.” So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.

    And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.

    dasbutch wrote on January 31st, 2012
  12. My introduction to kale was this recipe (kale gratin with pancetta):
    I got inspired by this post and made it a variation for dinner tonight.
    It’s easy and delicious and requires basically no measuring. Blanch some kale. Cook some bacon and garlic. Add cream and a pinch of nutmeg. Add kale. Grind some pepper on top.
    Actually, the cream could probably be optional. I bet kale is good in garlicky bacon fat alone.

    ajt wrote on January 31st, 2012
  13. Those who don’t care for “greens”, there is another way to increase the plant based vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants in your diet – AND reduce the HCA’s in your grilled meats at the same time.

    Herbs. Specifically rosemary and sage for reducing HCA’s. The nutritional info below is specific to dried herbs, but herbs can be preserved also by freezing.

    Frozen herbs retain fresh green color and are used in the same amounts/ways as fresh herbs. I do both forms of preservation with my herbs and use organic, home grown herbs liberally in my diet year round.

    rarebird wrote on January 31st, 2012
  14. Thanks for this summary, Mark.

    I have been eating lots of green since going Primal/Paleo but have made a point of adding other items more regularly (like mushrooms) and keeping better track of my volume of consumption since seeing Dr. Wahls’ TED talk. As you might imagine, being diagnosed with MS in 2009 I pay attention to people who have reversed their condition with diet and am even more interested when it lines up with what I have been doing for over 2 years!

    You are dead on the money to recommit to building our meals from the ground up with a variety of vegetable and fruits, cooked and raw, and adding our meats once we have the base taken care of. Don’t get me wrong, I still jump at the opportunity to have a juicy steak, slab of salmon, or plate of pulled pork, but for day-to-day consumption, we need to keep the plant food high on the priority list.


    Christopher Sturdy wrote on January 31st, 2012
  15. I probably eat more vegetables than a vegetarian!!! I absolutely love veggies, but broccoli would have to be my favourite….what….you don’t have a favourite vegetable? Some people crave chocolate, but I crave steamed broccoli. Fav way to eat it is with sesame oil, tamari, lemon juice and canned sardines….yummy!

    Sarah @ The Healthy Diva wrote on January 31st, 2012
  16. Great the linked video. Thank you Mark!

    Jano wrote on January 31st, 2012
  17. For the last month or so, I have been pulsing my salads in the food processor to make “chopped” salads. It is so much easier to eat the salads when it all stays on your fork and you’re not chasing it all over the plate. Also, my kids can’t pick out the purple cabbage (or whatever)because it’s too small.

    Milemom wrote on February 1st, 2012
  18. I have been eating primal since the day after Christmas, and Spinach is in my diet everyday! I love it, its my staple go to food! 1 cup in my omelette in the morning, and 2 cups in my Big A$$ Salad everyday. Love this site its helping me a lot!

    Kustom wrote on February 1st, 2012
  19. By boiling spinach and beet greens for one minute and swiss chard for 3 minutes, you remove a portion of the oxalic acid..Just look at the inside of your pan when you dump out the water. The green oxalic acid is stuck to the metal. Did you know that Quinoa belongs to the chenopod family—including beets, chard, spinach.

    Barry wrote on February 1st, 2012
  20. All these comments almost make me forget the wisdom of Dr Wahl’s and Mark’s words. But not really. I adore vegetables in all ways and have eaten tons of them for years. So the 9 cup challenge sounds awesome. I shall keep my fruit consumption to 2 cups berries per day, however, and get the other colorful cup in via colorful vegetable. I do, as much as I love them, to find beets to be mildly constipating…

    Chiro-Lisa wrote on February 1st, 2012
    • Beets are good fermented or pickled and they might be more digestible that way.

      rarebird wrote on February 1st, 2012
  21. I love planting vegetation in our garden and watching it grow, knowing that if we want a BAS or whatever else for cooking, we just have to walk into our backyard and pick some. I don’t think people were meant to survive on just one thing, whether it’s meat or vegetables. That’s the great thing about mark’s daily apple. It’s not ‘out there’. It’s all about balance.

    Caleigh wrote on February 1st, 2012
  22. How does sea salt rate as a source of all these minerals? That’s what I’ve been depending on.

    Moshen wrote on February 1st, 2012
  23. This Ted talk is inspiring and may be life changing. I made a point to go to the store and buy kale yesterday. Thank you!

    frugalportland wrote on February 2nd, 2012
  24. I think it’s worth mentioning however that the same nutrients offered from animal sources like broth/fat etc are HIGHLY more absorbable for the most part and if you do things right, already present in your food along with the calories/macronutrients you need to function. the veggies are a bonus/option for those eating lame sources of macronutrients (like vegans)

    Max wrote on February 2nd, 2012
  25. I was just telling my boyfriend that I wasn’t eating enough leafy green and craving more. Listen to your body closely and you will do alright!

    M wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  26. I had been eating salads and greens for years until I had read/heard that it is best to eat greens like spinach and kale cooked in butter for digestabilty and more nutrients? I had also heard that if you have thyroid issues (I take natural thyroid – armour) you shouldn’t eat raw greens because it affects the thyroid? Can you speak to this at all? I really like it in smoothies and typically lightly steam it first, and give it to my girls cooked all the time but was curious if we could be eating it raw. I’ve been hoping to get off thryroid meds for years but haven’t found the right way to do it – my thyroid went wacko when I was in my early 20s when the college *made* me get booster vaccines for going on clinicals….young and nieve and not knowing I could decline I got them and bam 3 months later my thyroid is barely functioning…
    Thanks for any input!

    Renee wrote on February 7th, 2012
  27. I know this is weird but i don’t always feel like a big salad so a couple times daily i blend handfulls of greens and other vegis and drink them down. I am no longer anemic. Something iron pills couldn’t do for me, raw greens did!

    dla wrote on February 8th, 2012
  28. I have MS, and I’ve also viewed Dr. Wahl’s TED presentation. I didn’t jump on her bandwagon right away, just because I was eating pretty much everything the way she was with the addition of whole grains. I also found her a bit off-putting…

    I found MDA, and with Mark’s more lighthearted approach, I took the plunge, and got rid of the grains. I also got rid of the dairy. I’ve only been on this path for about 3 weeks, now,and I’ve lost 5 lbs.

    My BMI was 25 to begin with, so I wasn’t too bad, but I’d like to keep any excess weight off to keep mobility a little easier – why burden myself with extra weight?

    I’m still on my feet, walking unaided on city terrain, but with a stick on uneven terrain. I still ride my bike, and I find it easier to ride than walk. I can still do about 20 miles on my road bike, though I don’t climb hills like I used to. I live way out in the S’Cruz Mountains, and take my city bike to the edge of civilization on my car, and leave my car on the edge. I ride my city bike around town to do errands. Yoga is my other activity of choice, and TOTALLY essential to keeping my spasticity in check.

    But back to Primal living – I grow my own greens (all kinds), and I have a grass-fed beef and lamb rancher 7 miles away. I’m pretty spoiled!

    Wish me luck on my new path!

    Guitar_grrrl (Lisa) wrote on March 31st, 2012
  29. Would the green part of green onions be considered ‘greens’? most of the above listed greens are leaves. I’m not sure if the green part of a green onions is a leaf, stem or even a blade.

    Jo wrote on April 20th, 2012
  30. i don’t know what i enjoy more…eating a big ass salad or calling it a big ass salad!

    back in my vegan days, i at HUGE bowls of greens with beans every day and was rail thin but was frequently depressed and nervous. when i went primal, i started adding meats and fats to the salad and removed the beans…i’m not rail thin anymore but feel much much better! sometimes it’s better to be a little fatter and a lot happier and healthier than to fit into a size 4 (especially when you’re over 5’8″ tall!).

    Ida Palma wrote on June 4th, 2012
  31. I wish I knew strategy to thank you so much personally if I could phone you
    I might, you assisted change my gaming existence. I now dont’ think I will invest so much doing what I used to do, I could be a little more fashion mindful or possibly consult with more girls but nevertheless find out how to balance being a bit.

    Barbie wrote on September 26th, 2012
  32. I am wondering about the oxalic and phytic acids in these leafy greens… I know they break down with heat, but does centrifugal action (blending) also break them down? Does one need healthy detox organs to successfully breakdown and eliminate the ingested oxalates? What happens if someone doesn’t have this capability, do the oxalates build up and experience symptoms?

    Paris wrote on October 28th, 2012
  33. one of the best things about all these grees…they can all be grow organically in your back yard , on your patio in a pot or in your kitchen window with your herbs!

    dana pallessen wrote on November 2nd, 2012
  34. I LOVE green smoothies. My favorite recipe is super simple: 3 cups spring mix, 2 tbsp. vanilla protein powder (I don’t use Primal Fuel, but a similar product), frozen strawberries or blueberries, a bit of almond butter, and almond & coconut milk blend. Blend for one minute and it’s ready. It tastes great and the light green hue is beautiful – almost like a shamrock shake but it’s actually food. You may need to play with the layering – I add 1/2 the greens, then the powder, then the berries and almond butter, then the coconut/almond milk, and then the rest of the greens.

    A bonus is that on days I’m not hungry for breakfast but want something that I can snack on throughout the morning I can put a cover on the container (I blend mine with a “Bullet”) and take it with me.

    Dan wrote on June 3rd, 2013
    • Here’s my favorite Green Smoothie —
      Add to a blender: 1 chopped apple, 1/4 avocado (or more if you like), Pulp of 1/2 lemon (I scoop it out with a grapefruit spoon), and 1 cup of cold green tea (Note: I put a couple of green tea bags in a quart jar of water and let it sit for a few hours, then put it in the fridge so it is ready — an easy way to make green “sun tea”)

      I blend all of the above together until it is nice and smooth, then I add a few handfuls of greens — like spinach, collards, kale, or Romaine and blend well. I keep adding greens until I know there is a good amount in there, but I don’t measure. (Note: I find as long as I add the avocado, I don’t need to add any sweetener.)

      Ruth wrote on June 3rd, 2013
  35. Personally, I think, that this article overlook several important points:

    1. There is not one size “universal” diet that fits all.
    2. Recent recommendations of IOM, regarding intakes of micronutrients, such as potassium and magnesium are highly exaggerated.
    3. Wahls advice 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 is a nonsense.
    4. Many people, including me are not able to tolerate such high amount of oxalates present in the most fruits and vegetables.
    5. In many traditional diets, e.g. Mongolian, Inuit, Massai, Tuoli, etc. vegetables and fruits are completely absent..

    Michal Piják, MD wrote on September 12th, 2013
  36. i just don’t understand why paleolithic people would have spent time chomping copious quantities of leaves, which have none of the flavors that are rewarding to our tastebuds, but plenty of bitter, and don’t satiate energy needs (no immediate/noticeable reward to reinforce consumption). i say copious b/c you have to stand around and chew on leaves for kind of a long time before you get any significant volume of nutrients. unlike fruit, you can’t really get carried away in yumminess & wolf leaves down, especially not in fresh, raw, dry form. my tastebuds cannot taste even a hint of value in leafy greens. chewing on salad, or chewing on the leaves of some random bush i’m walking past, or chewing on some grass, they all cause the same reaction in me: the bitter taste is overwhelmingly gross, my face wrinkles & twists up, and i’m immediately spitting it out as quickly as possible. for so long, i believed i was defective. then i came to understand that our tastebuds are evolutionarily adapted to prefer flavors that benefit our health, and in the context of a paleo diet and a little wisdom to steer clear of toxic stuff that’s sadly so often called food these days, it seems to make sense, finally. still, i can’t help wishing that i could stomach chewing on leaves (or, better yet, that i could manage to swallow them). but when i try to figure out why i might have an evolutionary need to eat leaves, i just don’t see how that is likely, or even possible, really. i feel somewhat vindicated by the fact that i’ve never eaten veggies b/c i hate them, and i’ve always been exceptionally healthy in so many objective measures, like i’m fairly strong, i never really seem to fluctuate in weight, my blood pressure is amazing, my cholesterol is awesome, i often don’t get sick when other people do. but i know that there’s just as much chance that these are due to luck, unrelated, or perhaps in spite of what would seem to be a nutrient deficit (which i must have if leaves are necessary for health & i’ve never eaten them). i keep asking myself, if i could somehow get vegetables into my stomach, would it open up my eyes to this whole world of health beyond what i’ve known, that i can’t yet imagine b/c i’ve never experienced it? or should i trust that my tastebuds are telling me the truth, that leaves would only taste unlike anything i’d consider food because i don’t really need them? (i should point out, i eat a red or yellow bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, salsa, a green apple, olives, and an avocado every day, so it’s not like i eat no plants at all. and i occasionally indulge in plantains, cassava, sweet potato, and prunes, but only when i’ve just burned a ton of calories at a particularly brutal crossfit workout. but my point is, i only eat plants that taste good.) i’d really like to believe i’m being reasonable. having to puree greens regularly (the only way i could possibly stomach them) so that i can hastily choke them down seems like no way to live, and certainly nothing like the positive, healthy relationship with food i’m able to enjoy with the other paleo staples.

    jamie wrote on October 21st, 2013
  37. Hi everyone. Regarding leafy green veg, i’ve been reading a lot about vitamin K recently, especially K1 and K2, and while i am meeting my K2 needs through gouda cheese K1 puzzles me, as apparently the best sources are leafy green veg? Correct me if i’m wrong here, but i thought humans could not digest cellulose? so how would we have obtained the K1 from raw green veg? We did not evolve cooking foods and by cooking we could have broken down the cellulose,but as i say, we did not always cook food, so where did we get K1 before we cooked veg? and during ice ages which lasted thousands of years there were very few green veggies to eat so where did our ice age ancestors obtain K1?. Also the Inuit don’t eat lots of leafy green veg so how do they obtain sufficient K1? Maybe humans simply synthesize it in their bodies? I don’t eat leafy green veg on my paleo diet and i seem to do fine and my blood clots normally.
    Thanks for any thoughts on this,

    Mark wrote on January 12th, 2014
  38. I’ve been following the primal blueprint for a year, the only thing I left out was eating green leaves. I never liked salad. Short time ago somehow I felt something was missing in my diet, I got severe sugar cravings, I knew my body needed something I didn’t provide. I figured out it might be raw green leaves, anything else was already in my diet. I gave the big-ass-salad a chance, since I didn’t succeed in liking green smoothies. I mix a variety of 5 different leaves, red pepper, an apple, some mayo, vinegar and fish or meat together. It’s a huge bowl. What surprises me really is, that I enjoy eating it every day now, it doesn’t get boring. Sometimes I even get another portion of leaves in. The sugar cravings have stopped. Wow, I have been fighting sugar addiction my whole life, never thought I might get over it.

    Margit wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  39. Hello. I’m a healthy 44 yr old woman (5’6, 125lbs for 20 yrs, active, energetic, good gut health, good family life) that started the ‘big salad everyday’ thing in July. Staying with family that had a half acre of the finest organic greens, carrots, potatoes, berries and tomatoes it was a gift. I have always preferred my greens raw. Chard, spinach, kale, arugula, squash, basil, dill, purslane, various lettuce. Add to that my daily heavy doses of raw nuts and seeds, local farm meats and eggs topped off with organic 80% chocolate and I felt like I was in the best place. I continued this in the fall when we returned home by plundering my overflowing farmers markets. Then in late September I noticed my legs, once able to work in the fields like a horse or bike 20 miles up and down hills before breakfast started feeling painful and leaden in random pockets. Nervy pain that would throb. It would come and go. Sometimes a random spurt of pain in a tricep or somewhere. I am aware that my thyroid is possibly hypo due to benign goiters, low ferritin levels and 2 sisters having it, and have an apt w endocrinologist in 3 weeks. A good blood panel seems to rule out the initial scary stuff at this time. I made up a list of my foods to go over w endocrinologist and it dawned on me that my diet looks suspiciously high in oxalates. I’ve never had kidney stones, either. Please, any input on how to do an oxalates flush or what to do to help clean me out. Or opinions are also welcome. A low oxalates diet looks awful! Another thought…would low ferritin levels cause random aches in the legs like that? A hypo thyroid can cause low ferritin even when the other iron levels look good, so I’m hoping it’s the iron that I need to manipulate. Thanks to anyone who can add in here!

    Helga wrote on November 21st, 2014
  40. Helga,

    I too, had low ferritin levels. Also, my hemoglobin was 6.2! My general practitioner wanted me to get a blood transfusion and a stat colonoscopy, because she was sure I was bleeding from my gut. I gently refused, and asked for an OBGYN consult. You see, I thought this was brought on by my heavy menstrual cycle. It was. The OBGYN doctor found polyps, but my doctor also insisted I see a blood cancer specialist. He treated me with Ferritin infusions twice a week for a year. The OBGYN removed the polyps, but she rendered me infertile. The blood cancer specialist saved my life. I just thank goodness that when my doc asked,”Are you refusing a colonoscopy?”…”I said, for now….”

    Mish wrote on November 29th, 2014

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