While this request is usually met with a simple nod by the juice bar attendant, this time the guy looks up and says, “Why no spinach? We have a lot of Raw Foodies that come in here and love the spinach in their juice.”
Ah! Great question! I could feel a blog coming on ….
Not everything should be eaten raw, especially vegetables!
Some raw vegetables must be cooked else you are actually harming yourself. Below is a rundown of what veggies should not be eaten raw either in whole or juiced form.
Cruciferous Raw Vegetables
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone, so someone suffering from this condition surely does not want to be eating foods that will block what little thyroid hormone is being produced in the first place!
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include cold hands and feet, thinning hair, fatigue, reduced or nonexistent libido, coarse dry hair, constipation, difficulty losing weight, and depression among many others.
Cooking crucifers reduces the goitrogenic substances by about 2/3. Fermentation does not reduce goitrogens in these veggies, but since fermented crucifers such as sauerkraut are typically eaten as a condiment and, hence, in small amounts, consumption is fine if the diet is rich in iodine.
Here is the list of common cruciferous vegetables that you do not want to be eating raw if you want to protect your thyroid gland!
Notice that many of these vegetables are commonly included in fresh veggie juice blends or in salads. While an occasional arugula salad or cup of coleslaw is not going to do harm to most folks, it would be wise not to make a habit of eating/drinking any of these vegetables in raw form. Kale chips are a safe choice too.
Raw Vegetable Greens
The good news is that oxalic acid is reduced by a light steaming or cooking. Just be sure to discard the vegetable cooking water.
Veggies containing oxalic acid include spinach, chard, parsley, chives, purslane and beet greens.
Hmmmm. Spinach is known for being high in iron, yet eating it raw will not necessarily give you the iron you want because of the oxalic acid?
Yep, that’s right. Cook that spinach first if you are seeking an iron boost without the indigestion and don’t get hooked on the raw spinach salads!
Don’t stress about munching the parsley garnish on your next gourmet dinner, though. A little bit here and there is not going to cause a problem. Eat a big spinach salad everyday and it is virtually certain you will eventually succumb to kidney stones, according to Dr. William Shaw, Director of The Great Plains Laboratory for Health, Nutrition and Metabolism.
Other Raw Vegetable Cautions
Other vegetables that are best to avoid eating raw include:
- Raw potatoes contain hemagglutinins that disrupt red blood cell function.
- Raw sweet potatoes will give you gas.
- Raw, edible mushrooms such as the common white mushroom contain toxic substances such as agaritine, a suspected carcinogen. These substances are heat sensitive and are neutralized by cooking.
- Raw alfalfa sprouts are mildly toxic and inhibit the immune system. Eating large quantities regularly can make the skin overly sensitive to the sun or trigger autoimmune symptoms that mimic lupus.
Dr. Weston A. Price’s Take On Raw Vegetables
A good rule of thumb when considering the best way to consume your veggies is to remember the letter that Dr. Weston A. Price wrote to his nieces and nephews in 1934. In this letter, he strongly urged them to eat their vegetables cooked in butter. His research found that the bulkiness (fiber) of raw vegetables interfered with the human body’s ability to extract minerals from them via the digestive process.
So, should you drink your veggies raw? Of course. Raw vegetable juice made from veggies that are safe to consume uncooked is a wonderful way to get a fast infusion of easy to digest, colloidal minerals. It is also highly alkalizing to the body and a proven way to gently detox the gut.
The great thing about veggie juice is that the fiber is removed, which is the “bulkiness” that Dr. Price found interfered with the mineral absorption.
However, if you are going to eat the fibrous portion of the vegetable, it is best to cook them in butter as advised by Dr. Price to enhance the availability of the minerals. The fat in the butter permits greater absorption of the minerals, and besides, buttered veggies taste fantastic!
References and More Information
The Role of Oxalates in Chronic Disease, William Shaw PhD (Director of The Great Plains Laboratory for Health, Nutrition and Metabolism)
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.