I never drink green smoothies. In fact, I stay far away from many vegetables that are green and raw. “Why Heather?! They’re so good for you. Packed with every vitamin and mineral, and chlorophyl and KALE!”
Kale is the exact reason I am an anti-green smoothie advocate. Now before you call me a health heretic, just hear me out. Kale is a part of the cruciferous family which is known for being high in Vitamin C, Carotenes, B vitamins, Manganese and Calcium. In fact, just a few servings of cruciferous vegetables a week has been shown to drastically reduce cancer rates! I absolutely hope everyone eats plenty of these, just don’t eat them raw.
Why you shouldn’t eat cruciferous vegetables raw:
They contain goitrogens
The main reason I advise against habitually consuming raw vegetables from the cruciferous family is due to the goitrogens. These naturally occurring substances inhibit the utilization of iodine in the thyroid gland, suppressing the release of thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating the metabolism so it’s essential that we care for it.
Some say that raw cruciferous vegetables are fine as long as you have a healthy thyroid. I say, If you have a healthy thyroid, which most Americans do not (Thanks to fluoride that is intentionally put in water and our toothpaste), lets do everything we can to keep it that way! Maybe your thyroid is fine, but you’re wanting to loose some weight. Drinking smoothies filled with kale or other goitrogen containing leafy greens is not a move in the right direction. No matter how few calories you consume, if your thyroid isn’t working properly you won’t lose weight. Cooking your greens on the other hand, is a great, cancer-protective move.
Oxalates are compounds that prevent the absorption of calcium and other minerals. Although they are found in many raw foods, the cruciferous family is high on that list. When these foods are cooked the oxalates can be reduced by 90% ! So yes, kale is extremely high in calcium, but it will be useless unless it’s cooked.
List of Cruciferous Vegetables:
• Bok choy
• Brussels sprouts
• Chinese cabbage
• Collard greens
• Daikon radish
• Land cress
• Mustard greens
• Shepherd’s purse
*Spinach is not a cruciferous vegetable but contains goitrogens so it should be avoided in green smoothies as well.
Now, if you’re normal, you probably don’t want to have to memorize this list, but don’t worry.
When all else fails, trust your taste buds:
It’s pretty simple really. If it tastes bad raw, cook it.
I’ve met a lot of people that tell me they LOVE raw kale and I don’t believe it. I think they’ve convinced themselves that they love it. Our mind can be powerful when it comes to deceiving ourselves. Over the years I have convinced myself that I love tons of things that I actually hate in an attempt to be healthy (fake meat products, cashew cheese, stevia.. blah). So maybe you chop up the kale really small, toss it with apples and pecans, pour on the tahini dressing and top with nutritional yeast. That can make cardboard taste good. But do you actually love plain, raw, kale? Would you eat a pile of raw kale for a snack? Maybe if you’re a raw vegan and have extremely limited options and blood sugar issues from eating too much fruit. But normal human beings? I really don’t think so.
Cooked kale on the other hand (or spinach, collards, mustard greens) tastes wonderful plain, or with a little olive oil, and garlic. Not to mention you can eat so much more when they are cooked down!
Give the other Crucifers a chance!
Kale is the latest fad in the vegetable world. Everyone wants it because it’s so nutrient dense. This is true, but lets not neglect some of the other family members that are just as nutrient dense like collard or mustard greens. They bring different health benefits and and a unique flavor!
I hope you feel semi-liberated knowing you don’t have to chug green juice to fit into the health world. And if you want to incorporate vegetable juice into your diet which is a great idea, just pass on the spinach or kale. You’re juice will taste better and your thyroid will thank you.