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We all know greens are good for us, right?
They’re full of all sorts of beneficial nutrients — loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s wise to eat some type of green food at least once per day.
Greens have been shown to:
- help maintain a healthy weight
- strengthen the immune system
- help with detoxification
- purify the blood
- help with cancer prevention
It’s common practice to pack the blender full of greens (and some fruit to make them taste better) and suck down a bitter green smoothie…
Yet are raw greens as healthy as we’ve been led to believe? There is a compound in many raw greens, like kale, collard greens, and spinach, that may be a concern.
The Truth About Oxalates
…oxalates are naturally-occurring substances found in a wide variety of foods and they play a supportive role in the metabolism of many plants and animals and in our human metabolism as well. So in terms of our overall health and diet, oxalates are neither rare nor undesirable (source).
The problem with oxalates (or oxalic acid) is that it must bind to other minerals, like calcium and magnesium, to be excreted from the body through the urine.
Folks who are susceptible to kidney stones — the most common type is the oxalate-calcium kidney stone — just need to be careful when consuming high-oxalate foods, like raw spinach, kale, beet greens, and collard greens.
Too many high-oxalate foods can lead to the growth of oxalate-calcium kidney stones (source). In fact, many physicians recommend a low-oxalate diet for people with recurrent kidney stones for this reason.
Now, don’t be alarmed; oxalates are a common compound in many foods, not just leafy greens. Oxalates are also found in bran flakes, rhubarb, potato chips, and nuts. (Although soaking or sprouting nuts and seeds reduces oxalic acid, too! Here’s how!)
The idea here is not to go to an extreme by cutting these foods out of your life completely. You’ll miss TONS of amazing nutrition if you do!
It’s all about balance and moderation, right?
Preserve Nutrients With Gentle Cooking
You don’t have to drink a raw kale smoothie or eat a raw spinach salad every, single day to get the benefits of greens in your lifestyle.
Lightly blanching, steaming, or cooking greens significantly lowers oxalate content while preserving nutrition! Minerals aren’t destroyed by cooking at all. Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K hold up to cooking more than water-soluble vitamins B and C. Some antioxidants are even strengthened during cooking, depending on the food! (Source.)
The greens in this soup are gently blanched in warm bone broth so maximum nutrition is preserved.
Drink a green smoothie or eat a big spinach salad every now and then. (We’re particularly fond of this Strawberry Spinach Salad with Naturally Sweetened Balsamic Dressing.) And if you need to eat a low-oxalate diet or you just want to change things up, try this green superfood soup.
This quote sums it up nicely:
The moral of the story is that there is no “healthiest” cooking method; all of them have their upsides and downsides. Eat plenty of vegetables of every color; cook some of them, and have a salad once in a while. There are more important ways to improve your diet and health than stressing over whether or not you should boil your spinach. (Source.)
This low-oxalate green superfood soup recipe proves that green smoothies and salads aren’t the only ways to get in your greens!