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Food Combining: Fruits & Greens, Is Togetherness Good?

As I travel, my husband Nick makes our delightful Green Pudding for guests as part of my presentation. Audiences love it. But a few critics on the side say: “No! Don’t mix fruits and greens in one meal!” Who’s right? Many of us on the raw food diet path have been admonished never to combine fruits and vegetables together. Good combining practices ensure the healthiest digestion and assimilation of our foods by not mixing together in the same meal things that don’t digest well together.

Fruits, say many, should always be eaten alone. Why? Because they contain natural sugars and digest very quickly, therefore leaving the stomach sooner than other foods. If they are eaten together with an incompatible food group, such as nuts, which are higher in fat and slow to break down, the sugars can be held up in the stomach while the other foods digest, and may end up causing fermentation, bloating, gas, and sometimes constipation.

However, combining fruits “improperly” won’t necessarily affect everyone this way—everyone’s digestive system is different, and these “cast iron stomachs,” it seems, can handle anything! It is often a good idea to avoid the combination of starchy vegetables and sweet fruit in juices, though most people can get away with that a lot more successfully if they need to, as no serious digestive work is actually required for juice. Naturally, even people with the heartiest of constitutions want their foods to digest properly and reap maximum benefit from their diet—especially when practicing caloric restriction. You want to get the biggest bang for your nutritional buck! A generally sound recommendation is not to combine fruits with vegetables for the simple reason that vegetables contain starch. The starch in vegetables is not something you would usually want to combine with the sugar from fruits. Sugar + starch = fermentation and alcohol!

There’s an exception, however, for one class of vegetable—greens. These do not contain the same starch as other vegetables, and so will not cause these unpleasant effects in the body, when combined with fruits. Greens should actually be a food group of their own, as they are technically not vegetables at all. What’s more, greens are the only foods that help to digest whatever other food they are eaten with: Greens help stimulate the secretion of digestive enzymes, and they are indispensable for helping alkalize the body, which is so very important.

Besides drinking green smoothies or eating my Green Pudding, you can enjoy mixing fruits with greens in raw soups. Or you can simply add seasonal chopped fruit to a bed of leafy salad greens. Have you ever tried baby spinach with mandarin orange wedges? How about Romaine with fresh strawberries? Experiment, I encourage you. Discover all the myriad ways you can jazz up your fruit meals to include more leafy greens, now that they’re in a class all their own!