Issue #15

When Should You Cook Your Greens?


In the last issue of Foundations Of Health we talked about whether or not you should cook your foods in general and how to prepare starch carbohydrates in particular.  In this issue we are going to look at the best way to prepare green, leafy vegetables.

Again, the question of whether or not to cook the green, leafy vegetable depends on what type of vegetable you are preparing.  For example, right now I’m looking at (and snacking on I might add) a container of Earthbound Farm organic baby spinach leaves. 

With baby spinach leaves, although you still have to break through the cellulose spinachstructures in the leaves to access the glucose in the plant, this can be easily done simply by chewing the leaves.  So baby spinach leaves need no preparation.  Just put them in your mouth and chew.

The only exception to this would be if you have a person whose digestive system is completely shot, meaning they can hardly digest anything.  A symptom of this would be a person experiencing bloating, gas and abdominal pain after they eat a raw plant like spinach leaves.

The reason people experience these symptoms from eating raw plants?  It's because the person’s digestion is so poor that they can’t digest the carbohydrate (glucose) in the plant. The glucose (a sugar) begins to ferment on its own and with the help of too much yeast in the person’s GI tract and the result is bloating, gas and abdominal pain.

When someone has this sort of problem, it’s necessary to cook the plant on very low temperatures (simmer) for a long time until the plant is quite broken down and much easier to digest. Does the plant lose some of its nutritional value by cooking it for a long time?  Yes.  But, here’s how to get around that. 

The Gerson cancer therapy for example uses the approach of nutritionally potent raw vegetable juices in the diet on the one hand and slowly well cooked foods on the other.  Why?   Because it’s quite common for people with cancer to have very poor digestion. 

So, the Gerson therapy uses both ends of the spectrum in order to try to get as much nutrition into the patient during the long process of re-building the liver and other organs in the body. Therefore, when a person has problems with digesting raw vegetables, juice some of them and cook the rest for a long time on low heat.

Moving on from a very easy to break down green, leafy vegetable like raw spinach leaves, let’s look at something like green collards.  I eat a ton of green collards.  But to prepare them, I steam them.  This is because they have a very strong glucose polymer structure, especially as you move away from the ends of the leaves and more towards the root of the plant.  In fact, you can see this structure in the photo on the next page.

However, when you start to cook any plant, you have to keep an eye on it because it’s very easy to overcook them.  What you want is to have the plant’s glucose polymer structure JUST broken down enough and soft enough so that you can chew it.  To learn about how to do this, click on over to the next page to learn the details.

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Copyright 2009 by The Diamond Group.