Food Combining in Green Smoothies
A popular question that I receive often is: Victoria, isn’t a green smoothie poor food combining?
I respond with the following fragment from my book Green for Life:
I wonder how greens, such as kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, carrot tops, and others got classified as vegetables? Why do we call completely different food groups “vegetables” when they look different and contain different sets of nutrients? A produce manager from a local health food store suggested that the produce section be divided into several different smaller groups of plant foods with specific similarities, for example, roots (carrots, beets, daikon, etc.) flowers (broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, etc.), and nonsweet fruit (cucumbers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, etc.). Combining foods with similar nutritional values would not only help shoppers to find necessary ingredients faster but would also help them to become familiar with more plant foods and increase their variety of vegetarian food consumption.
Obviously, people do not consider plants to be important enough to be classified properly. Even at the regular supermarket one can see that other food departments have more detailed classifications. For example, the meat department is divided into poultry, fish, and meat, which in turn is subdivided into smaller sections such as veal, ground meats, bones, and subproducts. Every item is carefully categorized, specifying which part of the animal it is from. Cheeses have their own specifications. Nobody would ever classify cheese and meat together in one “sandwich food” group, because it would be inconvenient and unclear.
Yet this kind of confusion and error continually occurs in the produce section. Some errors are quite serious, to such a degree that they could cause health problems. As an example of this, placing starchy roots in the same category with tomatoes and rhubarb could prompt customers to make improper food-combining choices. Many nutritionists believe in the benefits of proper food combining.1 For example, starchy tubers combined in one meal with sour fruits or vegetables can create fermentation and gas in our intestines.
Placing greens in the same category as vegetables has caused people to mistakenly apply the combining rules of starchy vegetables to greens. Driven by this confusion, many concerned people wrote to me inquiring if blending fruits with greens was proper food combining. They had heard that “fruits and vegetables did not mix well.” Yes, to combine starchy vegetables with fruits would not be a good idea. Such a combination can cause gas in the intestines. However, greens are not vegetables, and greens are not starchy. In fact, greens are the only food group that helps digest other foods through stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. Thus greens can be combined with any other foods. In addition, it has been recorded that chimpanzees often consume fruits and leaves from the same tree at the same feeding time. In fact, Jane Goodall and other researchers have observed them rolling fruits inside of leaves and eating them as “sandwiches.”
There is yet another great misconception that results from placing greens and vegetables in the same category. Such inappropriate generalizations have lead researchers to the erroneous conclusion that greens are a poor source of protein. Contrary to this popular belief, greens are an excellent source of protein, as you will see in the following chapter.
I propose that we separate greens from vegetables, now and forevermore. Greens have never received proper attention and have never been researched adequately because they have been incorrectly identified as vegetables. We don’t even have a proper name for greens in most languages. The name “dark green leafy vegetables” is long and inconvenient to use, similar to “the animal with horns that gives milk.”
We don’t have complete nutritional data about greens. For this book I had to collect bits and pieces of information out of books and magazines from different countries, and I still don’t have all the parts. I have not, for example, been able to find the complete nutritional content of carrot tops anywhere. Nevertheless, I have enough to draw some essential conclusions: greens are the primary food group that matches human nutritional needs most completely.
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