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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 31 2012

Why You Should Eat Leafy Greens

By Mark Sisson
211 Comments

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…

Magnesium

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.

Calcium

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

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.

Manganese

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.

Folate

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

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.

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211 thoughts on “Why You Should Eat Leafy Greens”

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  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. 🙂

  2. What’s the general view on chucking a load of leafy greens into a blender and blitzing them into a smoothie?

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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?

    2. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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 PrimalSmoothies.com. I have an ebook too of course.

        3. 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. 😉

        4. 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….

        5. 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.:)

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. “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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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!

    5. 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.

  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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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).

      1. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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!!

        1. John, with all your heavy meat eating you will die faster than a heavy smoker.

    2. Hi John
      I just wanted to note that in her book, Dr. Wahls recommends drinking a cup of bone broth before every meal.

      1. What book? I thought that she hadn’t found a publisher yet. That’s what her website says.

    3. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. Kale is safe as it does not have high levels of oxalic acid which can cause kidney stones.

        1. 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.

        2. Actually, green curly kale IS high in oxalic acid. Dino kale, however, is not.

      2. 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.

        1. Well, sometimes moderation is a good idea – this situation being one of those times.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. And, it’s the way my grandmothers in the South used to cook greens!

    2. 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.

      thanks!

    3. 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.

      1. African? Wow – looks kinda Swedish to me. The juices from the Xmas ham are used to stew up shredded kale. Nom…. 🙂

        1. 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.

    4. 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.

      1. Doesn’t it? And ginger would probably aid digesting the greens, wouldn’t it?

  8. They are good when drowned in fat otherwise give them to the hamster.

  9. 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!

    1. Congratulations Peggy!

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

      1. 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.

        1. Am definitely going to give it a look. Not familiar with the phenol hypotheses.

    2. 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.

      1. 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!

  10. 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.

    1. 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.

  11. >>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.

    1. Great to hear I am going to give it a try so I hope to have results like yours!

    2. 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.

    3. 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!

  12. 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?

      1. 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.

        1. Since I started adding plain gelatin to foods, my nails have gotten much stronger. It seems reasonable that my joints and tendons have too.

      2. 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?

    1. 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!

      1. My Mom did the exact same thing! I still like to pick out and eat the tasty little bones.

        1. 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.

      2. Salmon loaf? That got my attention! Do you have a recipe you’d share with us? How about a primal salmon patty recipe?

        1. 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.

          https://www.marksdailyapple.com/quick-guide-edible-seeds/#axzz1lLI7LQYl

          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”.

        2. 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”.

        3. 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.

        4. 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.

        5. 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.

        6. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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…

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

    1. There is a free full text version of this study available online via PubMed.gov. I wonder if there is a more recent study though. Did you look?

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. 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

      🙂

  20. 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.

    1. 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.

  21. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

  22. Thanks for the post, Mark. Has anyone tried those powdered “greens supplements”?

    1. 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.

  23. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. I’ve been using raw greens in smoothies, but I’m going to try steamed or parboiled. Thanks!

  24. 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)

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  25. 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

  26. And don’t forget about the wild greens. Dandelion, chicory, lamb’s quarters, etc. are delicious and FREE.

    1. 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.

  27. 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.

    Thanks.

  28. 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?

    1. 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.

      regards,

    1. That should say, their chart for *some* vegetables, because meat’s on there too…

  29. 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.

    1. 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.

  30. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. 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)

      regards

  33. 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.

    1. 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

      1. 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.

    2. And congratulations on surviving cancer! Best wishes to you Tina!

    3. 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.

      1. 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”!

    4. 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.

  34. 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!

    1. 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!

    1. Excellent! Thanks for sharing. Now I know exactly what I’ll do with that ham bone in the fridge.

  35. Hi Mark,
    While technically broccoli is not a green it does have leaves, at least if you grow it or get it from a CSA. It turns out that broccoli leaves are the most nutritious part, and one that is most often thrown away. It takes a bit longer to steam the leaves so I put them into my steamer pail ahead of the florets. About 5 minutes longer, or the time it takes to cut up the head.

    I have also saved the leaves to add to soup and stew. They will wilt easily, but they are not palatable raw, so it really does not matter.

    On another note, if my stem is really large, I cut it up into chunks and use it as I would a root vegetable in soup or stew.

    Looking forward to the cruciferous post!

    1. Yes! That’s how I cook home grown fresh broccoli, too! I even freeze it that way to be cooked later.

  36. I really need to add more veggies to my diet. I’ve been Primal/Paleo for over a year and that is where I really fail. I get a huge helping of spinach every morning, but that is pretty much it for the day. Maybe some steamed broccoli with dinner…. time to get creative!

  37. 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…

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

    1. 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.

  40. 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?

    1. What did your doctor tell you about getting that Oxalic Acid level down or about what foods to avoid/consume?

      1. 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

  41. 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.”

  42. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071224125524.htm

    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.

  43. 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.

    1. 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.

  44. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  45. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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 healthyblenderrecipes.com. 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!

        2. 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!

        3. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. My introduction to kale was this recipe (kale gratin with pancetta): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/kale-gratin-with-pancetta-recipe/index.html
    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.

  48. 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.

    http://www.fitnessandfreebies.com/food/articles/carcinogens.html

    http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-folate-vitamin-B9.php

  49. 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.

    Cheers,
    Chris

  50. 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!

  51. 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.

  52. 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!

  53. 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.

    http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43

  54. 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…

    1. Beets are good fermented or pickled and they might be more digestible that way.

  55. 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.

  56. How does sea salt rate as a source of all these minerals? That’s what I’ve been depending on.

  57. 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)

  58. 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!

  59. 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!

  60. 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!

  61. 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!

  62. 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.

  63. 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!).

  64. 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.

  65. 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?

  66. 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!

  67. 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.

    1. 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.)

  68. 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..

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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!

  73. 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….”