100 lb. Club - Overdoing Produce?

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06-07-2008, 07:01 PM
Does anyone think there is any health risk to eating too many vegetables or fruits? I had read that certain vegetables contain oxalates which can be hard on the kidneys (I think?). I know this sounds silly coming from someone who used to eat whole bags of Cheetos and packages of hot dogs, but now I wonder if there is any harm in eating tons of greens every day. I am eating collards, mustard greens, beet greens, chard, spinach, and kale every day because it's in season. Anyone think I should cut back?

06-07-2008, 07:10 PM
Anyone think I should cut back?

Probably not. I assume when you say "tons" you mean 2 to 4 cups or so. Which is perfectly reasonable.

06-07-2008, 07:23 PM
Offhand, I don't know which vegetables contain significant oxalates other than rhubarb. Rhubarb leaves contain enough of the oxalates to cause poisoning, and the stalks contain it too, but you would have to eat pounds and pounds of rhubarb to be poisoned - you would get severe diarrhea long before you were poisoned.

I think that's true of most vegetables. You're stomach and digestive tract are generally going to protest long before you eat enough to have major health implications.

That being said, even water is deadly poisonous in extreme excess. My mother was hospitalized (I think it was almost two years ago now) for a close call with water poisoning. She would have died if she hadn't sought treatment. Her "extreme excess" was only about a gallon of fluids because of the medications she was on. She hadn't counted her coffee, per her WW leader's instructions, but as Mom learned every drop of moisture in your diet counts.

How many veggies are we talking? 5 cups? Definitely not a problem. 10 cups? Still probably not a problem unless you have an digestive issue like IBS or suddenly go from eating little veggies to gorging. A sudden increase in the fiber/water combo of fruits and veggies can be pretty uncomfortable (in that wish for death, hours in the potty way).

Huge amounts of some vegetables can have harmless, but embarassing effects (not just THAT one). Carrots for example can turn your skin orange or yellow.

I really doubt you have anything to worry about, but get a nutritional consult if you're stil concerned. A certified dietician would be ideal, but if you're insurance doesn't cover it and you can't afford it, many hospitals and health departments, as well as some community clinics have free or nearly free nutritional consults or nutritional classees. If there's a college or community college in your area, you could also ask to speak one of the faculty that teach the classes in the dietetics or food science programs.

06-07-2008, 07:36 PM
Thank you for answering, guys. Good thoughts.

Greens are funny... a whole "bunch" of greens (like 8 cups) cooks down to like a cup or a cup and a half, and I eat all that. Maybe twice a day. So it looks like a lot raw but cooked, maybe 3 cups a day of greens only. (Yum).

Then I have maybe 3 or 4 small beets. And today I ate like 2 or 3 cups of strawberries. And a big bowl of veggies for dinner (acorn squash, shallots, kale, mushrooms, potatoes.. about 2-3 cups). And usually I make a smoothie with an entire mango in it.

This is kinda funny in a way... eating too many vegetables. OMG if you had even told me a year ago that I would even THINK of this being a problem I would have laughed my butt off. I bet I used to go 6 months at a time without any veggie unless it was deep fried and dunked in ranch dressing.

06-07-2008, 09:56 PM
Hah. It is a funny "problem" to have ... :)

But I don't think what you're eating is excessive or dangerous. USDA recommends 2.5 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit - which is something like 8 1/2 cup servings. And that's the minimum recommended, I think.

If you were eating pounds and pounds of fruit and veggies per day, then maybe I'd be worried. But I suspect for all the volume you're eating, you're probably not putting down that much in actual weight.


06-07-2008, 09:59 PM
Thank you for answering, guys. Good thoughts.

Greens are funny... a whole "bunch" of greens (like 8 cups) cooks down to like a cup or a cup and a half, and I eat all that. Maybe twice a day. So it looks like a lot raw but cooked, maybe 3 cups a day of greens only. (Yum).

Then I have maybe 3 or 4 small beets. And today I ate like 2 or 3 cups of strawberries. And a big bowl of veggies for dinner (acorn squash, shallots, kale, mushrooms, potatoes.. about 2-3 cups). And usually I make a smoothie with an entire mango in it.

I think your way of eating is GREAT!!! I eat at LEAST that many vegetables at a time and when not low carbing, I eat fruit like that too. ;)

06-07-2008, 11:50 PM
I'm pretty sure you only have to worry about too much oxalates (like from spinach) if you have recurring kidney stones or other kidney issues. Eat up!

06-08-2008, 12:43 AM
This came to me in an email just the other day from The World's HEalthiest Foods Website, in regards to eating too many carrots and it's affect on the hair/skin.

Daily Food Tip

Can eating carrots turn your hair orange?

No, eating carrots cannot turn your hair orange. The substances in carrots that provide them with their orange color are called carotenoids. There are more than a dozen different carotenoids found in carrots, and the orange carrots we're familiar with in the grocery store are especially dependent on one particular carotenoid, beta-carotene, for their color.

Because beta-carotene is fat-soluble, excesses of this carotenoid can end up being stored in tissue, including our skin. (By the way, unless the food you eat contains some fat, you won't be absorbing as much beta-carotene from your food to begin with.) However, it takes a good bit of beta-carotene from food as well as some time before you can see a skin change caused by diet. In studies on skin accumulation of beta-carotene, about 51 grams of beta-carotene per day for up to two weeks are required before skin changes become visible. Since there are only five to six milligrams of beta-carotene in one carrot, we're talking about nine to ten carrots per day as the amount required, as evidenced in most studies, to see skin changes. The appearance of beta-carotene in the skin (often in the palm of the hand, for example) is called carotenoderma.

Although hair below the skin surface is made up of living cells, the hair we see on top of our skin is composed of dead cells only. Even if it wanted to, there would be no way for our body to channel excess carotenoids into these dead cells.

Our hair gets its color from a different family of pigments than the carotenoid family. Melanin is the name for the family of pigments that give color to our hair. Within this family, it is eumelanin that corresponds to the black and brown hair shades, and phaeomelanin that corresponds to shades of red.

Regarding carotenoderma, the yellowing of the skin is usually related to carotenemia, excessive levels of carotene in the blood. The health impact of carotenemia is not well researched. Eating or juicing high amounts of foods rich in carotene, like carrots, may overtax the body's ability to convert these foods to vitamin A. Since it takes time for the body to convert carotene into vitamin A, this extra carotene may get stored in skin tissue or in subcutaneous fat. If the cause of carotenemia is eating excessively high amounts of foods like carrots, the color changes in the skin are usually temporary and disappear not long after consumption is reduced.

I eat an enormous amount of veggies and fruits every day. ENORMOUS. So far, so good. It's when I STOP eating them that the trouble usually begins. Cause if I'm not eating my veggies, I'm usually eating something caloric and without nutritional value.

06-08-2008, 12:52 AM
If carrots could turn my hair orange, I could be a "natural" redhead and I'd eat a pound a day. Bummer.

But, will eating too many carrots and getting orange skin from it make me look more tanned, rather than pasty-white? Hmm...might be worth trying, since I have no time for sunbathing :D

06-08-2008, 12:27 PM
If your digestive system is dealing with it fine, I don't think you have anything to worry about. The amount of veggies you describe doesn't sound like an excessive amount to me. Even for me to eat, at least, at the end of summer. Though I couldn't handle that much greens for very long, but that's only because I have IBS (and you would know if you had it) and sudden, drastic fiber increase can cause a flare. Every summer I have to rebuild my fruit and veggie tolerance, because I love fresh, high quality cheap produce, and eat ridiculous amounts of it when available (kind of tricky when you have IBS). Even the couple years I refused to diet, I still went wild with summer produce. When my favorites are in season (asparagus, young sweet corn, queen ann cherries, watermelon..) I eat as much as I can afford and eat without getting "too" sick. If I jump right in, and gorge on fruits and veggies though, I end up in agony (at it's worst, it's like having food poisoning. Tempted to beg for a sudden death as I contemplate the possiblity of living in the bathroom), so I have to work on gradually increasing servings and deal with the occasional flare when I miscalculate. But some things, like queen ann cherries and watermelon are worth a little suffering.

Sorry if it's TMI, I tend to ramble. I guess I just wanted to point out that whether you have IBS or not, a bad intestinal reaction to an increase in veggies, it doesn't necessarily mean you're eating too many. You may just have to gradually add servings. I know with IBS, I find my "true" limit this way, and I'm guessing it works kind of similarly with people with normal digestive systems - that your body is very good at telling you if it can't handle the quantities of vegetation you're consuming.