The following is a book review of Green for Life, The Updated Classic on Green Smoothie Nutrition by Victoria Boutenko.
As a nutrition professional I frequently discover new diets and eating habits. Many claim to offer optimal health or weight loss, disease control or the next thing. I find myself reading diet books with a certain skepticism. I fully believe that all whole foods can fit into the diet (in small or large quantities) to provide a healthy lifestyle. Certain diets can provide a personal and political statement, but I tend to look at nutrition alone when evaluating a new way of eating. When first reading about Green for Life, which encourages the raw food diet, I was interested in finding out how whole nutrition would be accomplished.
This book is the product of personal and community research to fill the “holes” in the raw food diet. Victoria and her family were dedicated raw foodists for several years before they became dissatisfied with their meals. Victoria felt there was something missing in the diet and went on a quest to discover what it was. With extensive research, Victoria was able to compare the diet of chimpanzees to the diet of humans. Chimps eat a raw food diet, yet their diet contains more greens–thus sparking the “green smoothie revolution.”
Victoria’s research finds many benefits to adding green smoothies to the daily diet. There are many benefits, fully backed with personal, community, and academic research. I will briefly discuss three reasons.
Greens are the Forgotten, Bitter, Vegetable
As Victoria says, “Green leaves were never included into our food pyramids as a separate group because in modern times it is uncommon to consider greens real foods.” This is an interesting point, yet as a dietitian, to me greens immediately go into the vegetable group (the healthiest of vegetables at that.) Is the general public aware of the healthfulness of dark leafy greens? Possibly, but are they willing to eat them regularly? Probably not. Enter green smoothies.
Victoria conducted research to discover the green tops of root vegetables to have more nutrition than the root vegetable itself. She states, “I propose that we separate greens from vegetables, now and forevermore. Greens have never received proper attention…” Greens do deserve more attention as they are among the most nutrient dense foods.
Greens Contain an Abundance of Protein
Victoria argues the protein found in greens is in the most usable form for your body: amino acids. Varying greens allows for a variety of amino acids, thus allowing your body to choose which “ingredients” it needs to build muscle, bone, etc. She makes an interesting comparison with a wedding dress:
Imagine that you have to make a wedding dress for your daughter. Consuming the complex proteins that we get from cows or other creatures is like going to the secondhand store and buying many other peoples used dresses, coming home, and spending several hours ripping apart pieces of the dress that you like and combining them into a new wedding dress for your daughter…
Consuming individual amino acids is like taking your daughter to a fabric store to buy beautiful new fabric, lace, buttons, ribbons, threads, and pearls.
There is a misconception that greens and other vegetables do not provide enough protein to the diet. This is incorrect as greens can provide an abundance of protein to maintain health.
“Fiber: The Magic Sponge”
Victoria names fiber “the magic sponge” because it has toxin absorbing and cleansing abilities. Greens are extremely high in fiber, and a daily dose of them helps promote regular digestion. High fiber diets will prevent and help reverse many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Another benefit of drinking the fiber rich green smoothies is you feel full. This eliminates the need to eat other “less healthy” foods.
Victoria’s book mentions many other reasons to drink a quart of her green smoothies each day. She discusses the pH of our bodies, Omega-3’s and the benefits of chlorophyll. The book also provides over twenty recipes so you will never get bored of your greens! I highly recommend reading this book, and trying the smoothies, to anyone. If your health is declining, your weight is increasing or decreasing unexpectedly, or if you would like overall health benefits of amazing greens…read this book!
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