Why you should rotate your greens


The shining stars of green smoothies are the leafy greens— chock full of phytonutrients, protein, vitamins, antioxidants…the list goes on and on. Yet there is also something you need to be aware of when drinking green smoothies daily— it’s called “alkaloid buildup.”

All raw leafy greens carry a small amount of toxins that protect plants from being entirely consumed by other animals—and wiping out the plant species. It’s a defensive trait, and something even we should be aware of. As humans, if we consume these toxins for long periods of time, they can build up and harm our thyroid. Some symptoms of alkaloid buildup are nausea, tingling in finger tips and fatigue.  But before you dump your green smoothie down the drain, you should know that this isn’t anything to worry about as long as you are rotating your greens. Throughout the week, use a variety of leafy greens in your smoothies— like kale, spinach, romaine, herbs and carrot tops.


“I’m freaking out! I don’t rotate my greens!”

Do you, or someone you know, eat the same leafy greens in your salad day after day? There’s no big news stories about people eating the same salad everyday and getting sick. It seems like so many people try to create so much controversy and scare tactics around green smoothies and healthy eating in general. Try not to sweat rotating your leafy greens so much. Your body is wise enough to let you know when it’s time to change things up. I’ll share my own personal story here:

When I first started green smoothies, I made the exact same recipe every single day for months: spinach, frozen mixed berries, frozen mango, frozen pineapple, banana, water, hemp protein powder and ground flaxseed. Two years later I am healthy. I never experienced alkaloid build-up or any aversion to any leafy greens in my green smoothies. I actually experienced the opposite. I craved more veggies. And I tried new veggies that I never liked before and now I love them. I also went to the doctor in November this past year, and she said I didn’t need to come back for a health check-up for another two years because my blood test levels were perfect. I don’t take any supplements either. –Jadah

So, just a reminder, alkaloid build-up is rare. And if you do experience any symptoms, they’re very mild and they don’t last long. Nothing that will send you to the doctor’s office. You might just take a few days break from green smoothies and jump right back in! But I know people ask this question a lot, so here’s a guideline if you really want to rotate your greens like a rawkstar…


How often should you rotate greens

Start out with rotating your leafy greens weekly. So one week you might buy spinach, and then on your next shopping trip, you might buy kale. Then once you plan to maintain the green smoothie habit as a lifestyle, rotate between two different leafy greens per week. And then another two different leafy greens the following week. So one week you might buy spinach and kale, and then on your next shopping trip, you might buy romaine lettuce and swiss chard.

There are several “families” of leafy greens. The leafy greens in each family have similar “DNA” including their own minor amount of toxins. By rotating family types with your greens you are preventing any kind of toxic build-up, but you are also feeding your body a wide variety of nutrients that you would otherwise be missing out on. To help keep you slurping your smoothies we made a list of our favorite greens (there are way more leafy greens than the ones we listed below) and separated them into family groups so you can easily rotate!



If you like spinach then you will like kale. They are both known for their wide variety of nutrients, mild taste, and availability in your local markets. The best part is that they are from different families, which will make rotating a breeze. Having any kind of health issue? Kale will probably help, though they are especially talented at fighting cancer.

Arugula is kale’s brother when it comes to content. They share high volumes of vitamin A, C, & K, fight against cancer, and include many other nutrients (iron, carotenoid, and more). Their differences are few, so choosing between the two is a matter of preference and convenience. Or maybe you would like to include them both in your rotation!

collardgreens2Collard Greens

Like their other cruciferous family members, collard greens are great cancer fighters. They are also pretty good at helping your body digest foods properly with all the fiber inside. They are most popular as a steamed leafy green, but adding them raw to your smoothies will provide you with more health benefits because they lose nutrients when cooked.

Cabbage is yet another example of a cruciferous cancer fighting leafy green. One thing that may help to separate it from the pack is its popularity in home gardens and fresh markets, which makes them easy to find. It also has a hint of sweetness to go with those yummy, summer smoothies filled with berries.

bokchoyBok Choy
The “Chinese Cabbage,” otherwise known as bok choy, shares loads of similar nutrients with the rest of its family, while is specializes in its lack of calories. It is best to purchase during the winter months while it boasts its dark green, firm stalks. Bok choy is a sweet green that will keep you slim.


Its hard to beat spinach when talking about nutrient packed greens. Just one leaf contains a sampling of more than 20 different nutrients. The list of benefits is nearly as long as the amount of nutrients: cancer fighting, blood pressure beating, bone strengthening, cardiovascular helping, brain boosting, skin smoothing, vision improving, inflammation reducing, energy increasing, and more. Spinach is a green smoothie staple for all!

beetsBeet Greens
When was the last time you ate beets, let alone the leafy greens on top of them? We recommend branching out and trying beet greens for your next smoothie! They include a wide variety of nutrients, but make their claim to fame with tryptophan. Tryptophan is the culprit of all those Thanksgiving Day naps, but more importantly helps with better sleep cycles. If you are always complaining about being tired, don’t turn to coffee. Add tryptophan to your green smoothie.

Chard is a colorful leaf best known for its ability to regulate the body’s blood sugar system. Translation? If you have diabetes or struggle to main your blood sugar levels then chard should become a regular part of your leafy greens rotation. Try it in the morning to start your day off right!



dandelionsDandelion Greens
Looking for calcium without the cows? You got it! A healthy dose of dandelion greens will give you near the same amount of calcium as a glass of milk will, but it will also fill you with other nutrients that milk doesn’t. When using them don’t forget this saying, “A banana in the blender kisses the bitter good-bye!”

romaineRomaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce is a nutrient rich leafy green that is good for your heart and low in calories. The vitamin C and beta-carotene content help to lower cholesterol and prevent build up on artery walls, which reduces the risk of heart attack. Being low in calories also helps you lose weight while keeping you full.



Ever heard of phytonutrients? They are what makes celery stand out among other raw greens. Phytonutrients are an antioxidant that help prevent damage done to body fat and blood vessel walls. This may not sound important, but to put it in common terms blood vessel damage leads to many of the diseases we see today. Be sure to use strong fruit to balance out the potent flavor of the celery stalks and/or leaves.

Most fast food is dipped, cooked, and lathered in all sorts of unhealthy things that cause high blood sugar and cholesterol, but not this “fast food.” One of the remedies for lowering blood sugar and cholesterol is cilantro, and its fast and easy to add to your daily smoothie! Try it with lime juice and other tropical treats.

carrotsCarrot Tops
Carrot tops are filled with chlorophyll, which has been shown to fight against tumor growth and acts as a cleansing agent. The best way to buy carrot tops is to buy carrots with full greens on top. You will have nutrient filled green smoothies and a snack for later.


Rotating your greens is easy and fun! When you rotate you getting access to many different kinds of nutrients that each raw green has to offer, but at the same time you are preventing alkaloid build-up. When rotating, keep in mind to go from family to family. You may have to experiment with a few different greens from each family to find out what you like, and what has the best benefits for you, but the benefits are worth it! Once you know what you like you can find staple recipes that go well with each green. Rotating is good for you, keeps things fresh, and simple. Cheers!

466 Responses to “Why you should rotate your greens”

  1. Lily 11.19.2015 at 2:18 am #

    How about garden cress (Lepidium sativum)? Can I use this as greens?

    • SGS Rawkstar 11.19.2015 at 11:14 am #

      Hi Lily,

      Of course! We love trying new greens!

  2. Shelly T 11.13.2015 at 5:10 am #

    Best article I’ve seen on this topic. Thank you for sharing your knowledge! Any suggestions on increasing protein in smoothies without dairy? I’ve tried yogurt, but the resulting digestive distress was quite unpleasant. Have also used peanut butter, but doesn’t always go well with the other ingredients. Thanks for your help!

    • SGS Rawkstar 11.13.2015 at 5:33 pm #

      Hi Shelly,

      Great question! We love adding plant-based protein options like chia seeds, nut butters, + hemp protein powder to our green smoothies. Learn more about our favorite protein options here…


    • Laurie K 11.23.2015 at 5:39 pm #

      Shelly –

      I found a Lactose free yogurt (Yami) that is delicious, creamy and doesn’t give me the gastric issues that regular or Greek yogurt do. See if you can find some at one of the healthier groceries near you!

  3. Tiffany 11.10.2015 at 1:48 pm #

    I get the powerhouse greens mix and add spinach before I freeze them. I don’t get tired of my smoothie and actually make mine much thicker because I feel full longer and prefer my simple green smoothies fresh! Thanks for all of the great info and delicious recipes!

    • SGS Rawkstar 11.11.2015 at 8:27 am #

      Thanks for blendin’ with us, Tiffany! :)

  4. Kelly 11.2.2015 at 11:44 am #

    I’ve bought a vita-mix blender and followed the recipe for a smoothie (from Ani Phyo). No matter which greens I use, the smoothie is always full of foam and I have to leave it on the counter for several hours before the foam disappears so that I can add more smoothie to my container (which makes 3 cups and I drink all day at work). I love my smoothies but it’s so time-consuming to wait around for the foam to be reabsorbed. Someone said it wouldn’t foam if you use organic produce but my organic still foams. Any suggestions?

    Kelly Anderson

    • Asha 11.2.2015 at 5:11 pm #

      Add some avocado! Gives a nice smooth texture and you won’t get any foam.

    • SGS Rawkstar 11.2.2015 at 5:18 pm #

      Hi Kelly,

      Vitamix is a powerhouse blender, but all of that power can add extra air to your green smoothie causing them to foam. We suggest once you’ve blended your smoothie, set your blender to its lowest setting for a few seconds to allow your smoothie to settle. You can also try adding healthy fats like avocado or coconut oil to help prevent any foaming.

      Hope this helps!

  5. L. Davis 10.22.2015 at 1:49 pm #

    Best informative web site I’ve found. Thanks

    • SGS Rawkstar 10.22.2015 at 4:24 pm #

      YAY!! Thanks, L.Davis! :)

  6. Lesley M 10.18.2015 at 6:13 am #

    I hopeu can help I been drinking green smoothies for 1wk, the first 3 full detox of veggies & fruits and 4th onewards slowly eating meat & other carbs.. on the 8th day am starting to get really bad tummy ache plus diarrhea and feels nauseated .. am taking green smoothies with spinach and now and on day 14th it gets better but tummy ache still there.. its like my stomach is rejecting the smoothie now..

    Had no problem on the first 5days… am i allergic to spinach??

    pls help

    • SGS Rawkstar 10.19.2015 at 6:49 am #

      Hi Lesley,

      This can be a common symptom if your body is not used to drinking or eating lots of fiber. Green smoothies are high in fiber which is great for digestion, but for newbies, the high fiber can shock your body. Make sure you drink lots of water to help flush things out. And if you’re new to green smoothies one serving a day is enough, which is 2 cups (16 ounces).

      Hope this helps!

  7. AJ 10.8.2015 at 11:54 am #

    Parsley wasn’t in your groupings – what family is it? I know it’s strong but I like it! Thanks!

    • SGS Rawkstar 10.9.2015 at 8:09 am #

      Hi AJ,

      Parsley is part of Apiaceae group, just like celery + cilantro!

      Cheers :)

  8. Didier Goossens 10.6.2015 at 3:14 am #

    This website, first of all, got me extremely hooked on green smoothies. First thing I did after getting my summer job paycheck, was ordering my own blender for when I am at my dorm!

    However, rotating greens has been something I have wondering a lot. Right now, I mostly vary between one week of spinach, one week of kale. I found out rucola (=arugula) is also a good replacement for kale and others, but I just wondered: do I really need to worry about alkaloid buildup if I keep up this system, where I spread about 4 smoothies across the week?

    Another question I was wondering about, was about the freshness of for example the spinach. I leave it in the fridge and after a while, it of course starts to degrade a bit. Needs to worry about a few mushier or older leaves?

    Thanks again!!!

    • SGS Rawkstar 10.6.2015 at 5:26 pm #

      Hi Didier,

      We’re so excited to have you blendin’ with us! Worried about alkaloid build-up? While build-up is rare, it’s something we should be aware of. We suggest rotating between two different leafy greens per week. And then another two different leafy greens the following week. So one week you might buy spinach and kale, and then on your next shopping trip, you might buy romaine lettuce and swiss chard.

      We suggest reaching for fresh greens, wilted greens don’t always yield the tastiest results! Finding your greens going bad too quickly? Freezing your leafy greens is a great option to prevent waste + it also great for your wallet! Learn all about freezing your leafy greens here…


      • Didier Goossens 10.13.2015 at 5:10 am #

        Gee, thank YOU for that tip! It is masterly thought!!!

        Be sure I will be using this one.

        Now, to get a bit technical: this week, I bought myself a mélange of greens, that includes baby spinach, some arugula, field salad (flat, super-green leaves), etc etc… What are your thoughts on that, as you are, in my opinion, the Sensei’s of Green Smoothies? :)

      • SGS Rawkstar 10.13.2015 at 8:11 am #

        Hi Didier,

        Yum! We love blendin’ different leafy greens together! Way to get a great leafy green nutrition boost!!! We still suggest adding different greens to your smoothies week to week to ensure you’re rotating your greens!

        Cheers :)

  9. SKDS 10.2.2015 at 9:43 am #

    I don’t just put one type of green in my smoothie. I put Kale, Spinach, cabbage, chard, celery, etc and whatever vegie’s I have. If I use a variety of vegies, will it stop the alkaloid buildup?

    • SGS Rawkstar 10.2.2015 at 6:52 pm #

      Hi SKDS,

      You’re a leafy green rawkstar! And adding a wide array of leafy greens to your diet will help prevent alkaloid buildup, so keep doing what you’re doing!

      Cheers :)

  10. Mark 9.28.2015 at 10:43 am #

    I was wondering if emulsification (NutriBullet) reduces the potency or the useable nutrients of greens. I have Googled the question and the matter seems to be unsettled. Some say there is very little reduction and some say the greens must be chewed and swallowed because blending or emulsification destroys the nutrient content. Some sites mention the lack of scientific studies to know which is opinion is true.What is your view?

    • SGS Rawkstar 9.28.2015 at 7:07 pm #

      Hi Mark,

      Great question! I believe that Dr. Mercola says that people shouldn’t blend because all the nutrients are lost within 15 seconds, or something like that. We do believe that nutrients begin to “go away” and oxalate, but we don’t believe this happens in 15 seconds. Our stance is that green smoothies stay good for you for up to two days, as long as they are in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

  11. Karen Jackson 9.25.2015 at 11:03 am #

    I am so confused about what I’ve been reading with regard to kale – “It causes hypothyroidsim” and so on. It seems that the more I work to improve my diet, the more I seem to read horror stories about all the foods I have been using (qinuoa, raw kale, raw almonds, farro, cruciferous veggies, chia…). How am I to determine how much of what to ingest, how often to ingest it, and exactly how much is too much? Also, how do I measure raw kale? Do I chop it the way one would chop parsley, then measure one cup of the mutilated result? Do I put “x” number of leaves in a smoothie? Should I eat kale every other day, rather than daily? Is it always best to balance a smoothie with a small amount of fruit, a small amount of kale, a bit of celery, a few almonds, one teaspoon of chia seeds…??? I have been making a 32-ounce green smoothie every day for months. Help! How do we sort through all the stuff online about “I ate kale for three days and developed hypothyroidism”, versus “Kale is the super-food of the millenium”? And (sorry about the volume) – is it better to steam kale before putting it in a smoothie?

    Thanks so much!

    • SGS Rawkstar 9.25.2015 at 1:15 pm #

      Hi Karen,

      Great questions! It’s important to rotate your greens. But to steer people away from consuming healthy amounts of fruits, vegetables, and create fear about eating healthy is sad to hear. There are some people whose bodies don’t respond well to high oxalates (which spinach + kale are known for having), but there are also people who can’t eat bananas, or mango, etc… It doesn’t mean everybody stops eating bananas or mango. It just means those few people who are allergic have to avoid it. Not everyone needs to avoid oxalates in their diet, but if you do, then you find alternatives. You can always check with your doctor to make sure, but it’s best to listen to your body.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers :)

  12. Helen 8.24.2015 at 7:23 am #

    Please reply to my email. I started with green smoothies and into the 2nd week became extremely constipated and even taking a laxative didn’t help. I had to see my dr and she asked me what greens I used. I told her spinach,chard & kale. At Costco they had all three in a large bag and bought this so I could freeze. She told me kale was my problem because it was hard to digest in the colon
    and to stop using. Also I saw after 2wks that my almond milk had 2% iron, and my flaxseed has iron
    and some frozen fruits had iron. I have never been able to take any iron in vitamins because it would make me constipated. Just recently at health food
    found coconut milk with no iron. Sweet and unsweetened. Use this now along with coconut water.
    Do you know of kale being hard on people. My dr’s
    MA told me she had a lot of gas with kale.
    Also forgot to mention I became so bloated and I
    am petite. My stomach had horrible pains.
    I do not want to give up on making smoothies and she my dr told me spinach is good plus avcoadco .
    In 8 months my HDL & LDL cholesterol levels dropped so low and she told me it was the avcoadco which did this.
    My question is chard also constipating. What are some greens I should avoid???
    Please help I don’t want to give up my smoothie
    Extremely grateful for your advice.

  13. Kirsten 8.19.2015 at 8:03 pm #

    Have you ever tried cauliflower greens? I’m out of everything in the house but have those in the garden.

    • SGS Rawkstar 8.20.2015 at 4:31 am #

      Hi Kirsten,

      You can absolutely blend cauliflower greens!!! You’ll find the cauliflower leaves a little bit firm and that they have a stronger taste than kale.

      Reach back out + let us know how you enjoyed blending with the cauliflower greens.

      Cheers :)

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