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June/July 2004
Nature’s Digest
By Angela Starks


Green Pages

There’s a whole world of greens out there with endless therapeutic applications, so much more than I’ve had space to mention here. For more information, I recommend the following:

The Wheatgrass Book
by Ann Wigmore (Avery, 1985). A detailed account of this celebrated green’s health benefits, plus how to grow and juice your own.

The Juicing Book by Stephen Blauer (Avery, 1989). This user-friendly guide contains nutrition facts, profiles of numerous vegetables and fruits, advice on choosing a juicer, and great recipes.

Greens Glorious Greens by Johnna Albi (St. Martin’s Press, 1996). Over 140 delicious ways to prepare all types of greens.

Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine by Gabriel Cousens, M.D. (North Atlantic, 2003). Dr. Cousens encourages us to eat more greens and fewer sweet foods in order to balance blood sugar, eliminate candida, and to switch off what he calls our ‘self-composting’ button.
I hope these books inspire you. Meanwhile, if you’re the type who knows you’ll not get around to making a daily salad in the foreseeable future, let alone making juices, I recommend at least taking a greens-based natural supplement such as Vitamineral Green or Greener Grasses, available at

Last but not least, a word about choosing a juicer. After doing my own painstaking research and talking to juice aficionados, the one that stands out is the legendary Green Star Juicer (previously called Green Power) by Tribest. You’ll be amazed at how much juice it will extract from a handful of greens. Importantly, the low speed of the motor means that you don’t end up with a warm juice, thus the nutrients and enzymes are preserved. It is convenient for home use because it does not require too much awkward cleaning, plus it’s compact, attractive, and quiet. It’s quite an investment, but worth it in the long run. For more information, see —A.S.

Welcome to Satya’s new column about food and nutrition. It is my belief that what we eat—meaning also what we don’t eat—is the single most powerful factor in determining both our physical and mental health. Everyone knows that the better we feel, the more energy and compassion we have to spare, whether as tireless activists, productive members of society, or simply as living examples that eating as nature intended feels great. Importantly, our collective food choices also have an enormous impact on the environment and the creatures we share it with, especially in the realm of vegetarian versus carnivorous diets. If we’re lucky, eating is something we do every day, so we can all make a difference in the world in that very simple act.

In forthcoming issues of Satya you can expect to read about topics like vegetarian nutrition for children, the theory that meat consumption causes violent behavior, the dubious contents of nutritional supplements, some little-known facts about vitamin B12, and the myths of soy as a health food. First, in Satya’s mid-summer issue about our craving for nature and all things green, let’s take a look at the fastest way to get some greenery inside ourselves!

Drink Your Greens
I have a favorite antidote for when I’m feeling stressed, tired, unmotivated, or lacking in mental clarity. Instead of reaching for the obvious panacea—caffeine—I take a big bunch of organic mixed greens, like kale, spinach and parsley, and run them through my juicer. I may also throw in some apple for sweetness or celery for a salty flavor. The latter is also classified as a green and contributes natural sodium for extra hydration on a hot summer’s day or after exercise. I think of these drinks as magic potions; just a few sips and I can really feel the goodness coursing through my veins, my muscles relaxing, and clouds of mental fog dispersing. I even get a little energetic ‘high’ for a short while, which gradually ripens into a nice calm alertness that lasts for hours. The secret lies in the balance of nutrients that are characteristic of greens. In particular, the perfect calcium to magnesium ratio helps to encourage both relaxation and appropriate responsiveness in the nerves and muscles, ensuring the smooth functioning of mind and body. Magnesium has a mild tranquilizing effect; drinking a large quantity of lettuce juice—which also contains natural opiate-like chemicals—can even induce sleep.

The calcium and magnesium content of greens also makes them great bone-building foods. The magnesium helps to bind the calcium in the bones. Contrast this with milk: its poor magnesium content means that much of its calcium ends up roaming the body unused. Not only that, but milk is proven to actually contribute to osteoporosis, because excessive protein intake can deplete the body’s calcium stores, as the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids, present in dairy food (and even more so in meat products), results in acidic byproducts in the blood. In order to neutralize it, the body draws calcium—an alkaline mineral—out of the bones and into the circulation. Green juices are very alkalizing, an important consideration when we consider that most foods in the standard American diet are acid-forming.

Most every type of edible green is a concentrated source of valuable nutrition, so whichever you choose you can’t go wrong. However, each has its special attributes, enabling you to devise a customized green remedy. Watercress, for example, is known for its bounty of B vitamins, which are essential not only for energy production but also for coping with stress. B vitamins are virtually destroyed in cooking, so fresh juices are especially valuable.

Folic acid, which is often classified as a B vitamin and is essential during early pregnancy to ensure the healthy development of the fetus, is found in abundance in spinach. This dark, leafy green also enriches breast milk, and its juice acts as a mild but highly effective laxative. It is true that spinach contains oxalic acid, a substance that can bind with calcium and render it unusable in the body, depositing it as kidney stones. However, expert nutritionists, among them Dr. Gabriel Cousens, have documented through clinical observation that raw greens do not pose this problem, a phenomenon thought to be due to the body’s ability to metabolize oxalates in their natural state, which are only altered into potent anti-nutrients by heat.

Parsley is one of the richest greens in iron (followed by spinach and kale), a deficiency of which can cause listlessness and fatigue. It is also very rich in vitamin C, which, in addition to being an important antioxidant and immune-booster in its own right, helps the absorption of iron. Parsley is also surprisingly high in calcium, as are watercress, kale and turnip greens. This humble herb, then, is surely one of the most valuable and yet neglected foods there is; consider the tiny pieces used merely as a garnish atop your restaurant meal. Next time, don’t toss it aside—ask for more!

Another sadly maltreated green is the common dandelion. Considered a nuisance, its sunburst yellow flowers pop up in the middle of lawns and vegetable patches everywhere, defeating tireless efforts at weeding and mowing. Just relax and let it grow. Its resilience is passed onto us when we juice its bitter yet nutritious leaves or add them to salads. Dandelion leaves are a natural diuretic and are especially cleansing to the liver and kidneys.

No discussion of greens would be complete without a mention of chlorophyll, the stuff that makes green plants green. It is the pigment in leaves that enables them to absorb the sun’s energy in a process called photosynthesis, and many nutritionists believe that when we eat green leaves we absorb that stored solar energy. Liquid chlorophyll is the ‘blood’ of plants, and it bears such a close resemblance to hemoglobin that it enriches our own blood. Chlorophyll is also credited with killing germs, protecting us from radiation, detoxifying the bloodstream and liver, reducing all manner of bodily odors, and controlling the appetite as part of a weight-loss diet. One of the most concentrated sources of chlorophyll is the juice of wheatgrass, the young seven-inch tall grass that is revered as a superfood around the world. Health connoisseurs knock back an ounce or two each day as if it were a shot of espresso.

At this point, the obvious question to ask is: Why exactly are green juices so potent as compared to simply eating a big leafy salad? You get similar nutrients and health benefits when you eat greens, but not so effectively or so directly. With juice, the digestive system doesn’t have to break down the fiber and cell walls of the vegetables, and the nutrients are more immediately absorbed. This also means that you avoid expending energy on the digestive process, thus freeing up more vitality for other pursuits.

If you don’t have a juicer, I highly recommend investing in one, as well as a book of juice recipes if you’re a novice (see resources). My favorite naturopath and herbalist, Dr. Richard Schulze, believes that juicers are such an important health gadget that if you can’t afford one he’d say “so sell the car!” In the meantime, you could visit your local juice bar to get your fix.

Of course, you want to eat your greens as well as drink them, since fiber is necessary for the proper functioning of the digestive system. Indeed, greens are one of the best sources of fiber there is, cleaning the intestines as they pass through without the abrasiveness of bran or the accompanying sticky gluten in most grains. The act of chewing greens provides the additional bonus of cleaning the teeth and releasing antiseptic and breath-freshening chemicals into the mouth. As a rule, it’s best to consume the majority of your greens in their whole form—preferably raw to retain nutrients—while drinking one medium-sized (12 oz) juice every day or two. You can of course vary this; for example, during illness or a cleansing regime, you will benefit from a greater proportion of juice for detoxifying the blood, ease of assimilation and potent nutrition.

For the purists among us, if you think of juice as a contrivance and the idea of relying on an electrical device seems unnatural, consider that our environment is pretty unnatural nowadays too and we all need an additional boost. We have more poisonous chemicals to detoxify, fewer nutrients from food grown on depleted soils, and a potpourri of modern stressors. As nutritionist David Wolfe says, “if you want extreme results, take extreme measures.”

Angela Starks is a Consulting Editor of
Satya magazine, a nutrition counselor, and a freelance health writer. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and young son, where she also teaches yoga. She gets the energy for her multi-task life from green juices and a primarily raw, vegan diet. Angela can be contacted at


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