Can Eating Too Many Vegetables Be Unhealthy?
Conventional wisdom suggests that we need to eat more, not less vegetables. And while no one can deny the importance of vegetables in a diet, there may be such a thing as having too much of a good thing.
With the growing popularity of green smoothies, it’s now easier for many people to go above and beyond their daily requirement for greens. Take into account that more and more people are choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet, and there is even more potential to over-consume or consistently consume the wrong types of vegetables.
Too much of a good thing?
To see how too much of a good thing can be bad for you, we can look to the recent study on kale. Kale is high in a number of vitamins, fiber, iron, calcium, and is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. However, a study conducted by biologist Ernie Hubbard revealed that kale contains a number of heavy metals that can be toxic to the body in large doses.
Studying urine samples from patients complaining of fatigue, digestive problems, and skin issues, Hubbard found high amounts of thallium, which is a common ingredient in rat poison. Afterwards, he discovered that kale and other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, absorb thallium from soil. Although this and other heavy metals in kale exist in very small amounts, consuming large amounts of kale each day can raise those levels and lead to the health issues the patients were complaining about.1
Another potential issue with raw cruciferous vegetables, as Dr. Michael Greger points out, is that the compounds in them can block iodine uptake in the thyroid. Some vegetables have more of this compound than others. Dr. Greger also states that that just 3 cups of raw mustard greens, for example, is too much.2
Vegetables and digestion
Another potential issue with consuming vegetables is that many of them, such as greens, peas, and corn, are high in insoluble fiber. Although the right amount of this type of fiber helps keep you regular, too much of it can actually irritate the stomach. Soluble fiber on the other hand, tends to calm the stomach. Vegetables that are high in soluble fiber but low in insoluble fiber include asparagus, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and winter squash.3
Because insoluble fiber can inflame the gut, some experts recommend reducing your vegetable intake below the recommended 6-8 servings per day and incorporating more vegetables with soluble fiber into your diet. Licensed acupuncturist Chris Kresser also recommends reducing the variety of vegetables you eat if you are experiencing digestive issues.4
Along with this advice, you should also consider the source of your vegetables. You may want to choose only organic vegetables from trusted sources to avoid potential issues caused by pesticides and herbicides.
Finding the sweet spot
From these examples, you can see the wisdom in making sure that you are not overdoing it on the vegetables. Of course, vegetables should remain a key part of your diet, but this begs the question: what are the right types and the right amounts of vegetables for you?
For that answer, consider working on your diet with your doctor or nutritionist. Using tools such as the ZYTO Foods for Wellness scan or the Digestion scan, these practitioners can help determine your biological preference for specific foods and discover related factors that are impacting your gut health and overall wellness.
1. Hinde, Natasha. “Hidden Health Dangers of Kale: Traces of Rat Poison Found in Popular Superfood.” HuffPost. Huffingtonpost.co.uk.
2. Gregor, Michael. “Overdosing on Greens.” NutritionFacts.org. Nutritionfacts.org.
3. “Fiber Content of Foods.” Prebiotin Academy. Prebiotin.com.
4. Kresser, Chris. “Got digestive problems? Take it easy on the veggies.” Chris Kresser. Chriskresser.com.