Why you should rotate your greens

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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…

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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!

 

Crucifers:

kale2Kale
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.

arugulaArugula
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.

cabbageCabbage
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.

Amaranth:

spinachSpinach
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.

chardChard
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!

 

Asteraceae:

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.

 

Apiaceae:

celeryCelery
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.

cilantroCilantro
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!

512 Responses to “Why you should rotate your greens”

  1. Nikola 2.12.2016 at 7:14 am #

    Hey guys,
    I LOVE your website! have already participated in two challenges; and this time it stuck! I am really craving those green bastards, if I don’t get my daily smoothie every day I truly miss it. Today I tried arugula instead of the ol’ spinach and kale routine – just because, where I live, I don’t always easily come by fresh spinach or kale. Using the frozen product was somewhat underwhelming, so I tried arugula from my local supermarket – turns out it is AWESOME, pardon, RAWKSOME! :-)))

    • SGS Rawkstar 2.12.2016 at 8:15 am #

      Hi Nikola,

      WAHOO!! Cheers to trying new greens + loving them!! :)

  2. stephanie scott 2.2.2016 at 5:53 pm #

    Hi there,
    I see that cilantro belongs to the apiaceae group. What about
    Parsley, mint and basil? I want to rotate them, correctly.

    THanks,

    • SGS Rawkstar 2.2.2016 at 6:08 pm #

      Hi Stephanie,

      Great question! Parsley is also part of the apiaceae family, while mint and basil are part of the lamiaceae family.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers :)

  3. Dubsteppa King 1.31.2016 at 11:44 am #

    Thanks for the fabulous information on rotating greens families. My son (13) and I (52) are now blending (Ninja Smoothie Maker) various fruits and veg for weight control & health benefits. Aside from keeping the sugar content low, any other hints you have to offer would be greatly appreciated. We also use a scoop of whey powder in our blends for extra vitamins, minerals and to help us manage hunger pains. Best of luck to all & thanks again!

    • SGS Rawkstar 2.1.2016 at 8:45 am #

      Hi Dubsteppa,

      We’re so excited to have you + your son blending with us! Looking to lower the natural sugar content of recipes, try turning our Simple Green Smoothie Formula on it’s head! Instead of blending 3 cups fruit with 2 cups leafy greens, try blending 2 cups fruit with 3 cups leafy greens.

      Or swap in a low sugar fruit!

      http://simplegreensmoothies.com/low-sugar-fruits

      Interested in using your green smoothie for weight loss? Have you heard our co-founder Jadah’s story? If not, check it out here…

      http://simplegreensmoothies.com/meet-jadah

      She had great success using her green smoothie as a meal replacement. We simply suggest adding protein + healthy fats to ensure you’re fueling your body with a complete meal. Learn more about our favorite meal replacement booster combos here…

      http://simplegreensmoothies.com/tips/green-smoothie-meal-replacement

      Hope this helps point you in the right direction. Reach out with any questions! :)

  4. RC GOLFER 1.25.2016 at 8:34 am #

    I bought myself a Blendtec for Christmas, and I’ve been blending and checking out and enjoying your site ever since. I think I may not be rotating correctly. I’ve been blending two different families daily, and drinking those two families for the whole week, then I go to two different families daily for a week. Do you think it’s better to blend one type for half the week, switching to another type for the rest of the week? As an example, this week I’m using a kale/spinach blend daily. Is it better to go with kale only for a few days, then switch to spinach only for the next few days? Thanks!

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.25.2016 at 7:14 pm #

      Hi RC,

      It sounds like you’re blending perfectly! As long as you’re taking time off (ex. a week) from a specific family of greens you’re giving your body the chance to reset and prevent oxalate buildup.

      Cheers :)

  5. Bobbie 1.24.2016 at 7:22 pm #

    I have been a fan of green smoothie’s for over 3 years now, and have drunk one, vitamix size, of spinach, kale, cabbage and 4 different fruits faithfully for my lunch alone for these 3 years. I had
    no idea about rotating greens. All I know is that I started to have serious hair loss, itching all over my body, edema in my feet, and
    high cholesterol. I have always had thick, thick hair and normal cholesterol. Come to find out I have chronic Vit A. toxicity. I have
    completely stopped drinking these and hope my hair and these problems will resolve. I am vegan and never dreamed I was doing something to hurt my body.

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.25.2016 at 7:11 pm #

      Hi Bobbie,

      So scary. We agree it’s hard to believe that something so good for you, could potentially effect your body negatively. But even healthy greens have defense properties to prevent them from being wiped out. We hope you found our article helpful and that you can work with your health care professional to determine what’s best for you + your body.

  6. Jo-Ann 1.23.2016 at 6:53 am #

    I purchased a package of spinach and mixed it with our local spinach in the Caribbean which is similar to coloured greens. My smoothies are delicious and I am getting in some organic greens. Yea!!!

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.25.2016 at 7:05 pm #

      Hi Jo-Ann,

      Yum! Sounds delicious! We love blending with local greens! :)

  7. RCW 1.21.2016 at 3:47 am #

    I’ve just purchased a Ninja IQ this week and the excellent info here will get me off to the perfect start. Thanks guys! :)

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.21.2016 at 11:13 am #

      Hi RCW,

      YAY! You’ve got yourself one rawkstar of a blender and we hope you enjoy our recipes! Reach out with any questions!

  8. Saskia 1.20.2016 at 3:55 pm #

    Great info, thanks a lot. While at day 20 I was wondering about other greens, so your overview helps me. KUDOS for being passi ook nate and in-depth!

    • Saskia 1.20.2016 at 3:56 pm #

      Ok…I mean passionate but I’m sure that was clear

      • SGS Rawkstar 1.21.2016 at 11:12 am #

        Hi Saskia,

        YAY! We’re so excited we could help and share some more greens that are great for blending! Which types are you looking forward to trying?

        Cheers :)

  9. Sophie 1.18.2016 at 8:27 pm #

    I found a packaged organic mix with baby kale, beet tops, spinach and a couple of other greens and I’ve been using that for my smoothies. Is that ok or do you recommend a different green each week?

    • Saskia 1.20.2016 at 3:56 pm #

      Oh that sounds delicious!

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.21.2016 at 11:11 am #

      Hi Sophie,

      We love using a variety of leafy greens, and that combination sounds out of this world! We do suggest continuing to rotate your greens, for example take a week off of spinach, and then the following week remove a different type of leafy green. So your body is being fueled by different nutrients and you lower your risk of oxalate buildup.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Adanary 1.18.2016 at 2:39 pm #

    Thank you for all the information!
    Very interesting : )

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.18.2016 at 5:31 pm #

      Hi Adanary,

      You’re so welcome! Thanks for blendin’ with us! :)

  11. Tanya Lewis 1.18.2016 at 10:57 am #

    Thank you I will definitely start switching up my greens better safe than sorry. Thanks again for the heads UP!

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.18.2016 at 5:31 pm #

      Hi Tanya,

      You’re so welcome! We hope you found this information helpful! Please reach out with any questions!

      Cheers :)

  12. jenny 1.18.2016 at 1:14 am #

    useful information

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.18.2016 at 8:17 am #

      Happy we could help, Jenny! :)

  13. TERESA 1.14.2016 at 9:45 am #

    Can I mix two different green families or is it better to drink one at the time?

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.14.2016 at 11:46 am #

      Hi Teresa,

      Definitely! We love using a mix of different leafy greens! Just make sure that you’re taking a week off from a specific leafy green family to help prevent oxalate buildup.

      Cheers :)

  14. TERESA 1.14.2016 at 9:22 am #

    Can I use the whole carrot along with the tops?

  15. angela 1.9.2016 at 7:40 am #

    love this website!
    I always look for some tips and recipes here;)
    cheers from London! x

    • SGS Rawkstar 1.11.2016 at 5:39 pm #

      Thanks for blendin’ with us, Angela!

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