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 naseau, 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!

259 Responses to “Why you should rotate your greens”

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  3. Adam Gilles 9.29.2014 at 5:21 am #

    Since I was in mexico I love making a green smoothie using Nopales (cactus leaves) is this a ok substitute for spinach and kale? I am rotating these greens. Thanks

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.29.2014 at 8:14 am #

      Hey Adam.

      We have not tried using cactus leaves, but if that is something you already enjoying eating, then go for it! :) We love all sorts of leafy greens! :)

  4. Margaret 9.27.2014 at 2:00 am #

    Looking forward to these 30 days. I think it’s great yo do this as a group and not alone.
    Thanks Kristin M… For the info.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.27.2014 at 7:26 pm #

      We are cheering you on! :)

  5. May 9.24.2014 at 6:53 pm #

    I am new on smoothies and need help too make the best smoothie too fight against cancer.
    Anyone who can help me??

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.25.2014 at 2:14 am #

      Hey May.

      Thanks for the question. Since we are not doctors or nutritionist we can’t medically suggest a green smoothie that is good for fight against cancer. My suggestion would be to ask your healthcare provider to point you in the right direction of which fruit and veggies have been studied to help fight cancer. Once you have those answers, just us know and we can find a green smoothie that is great for you and delicious. :)

  6. mary 9.22.2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Is it OK to use frozen spinach? Fresh spinach is sometimes hard to find in the local grocery and I’m not familiar with other available greens.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.22.2014 at 6:33 pm #

      Hey Mary.

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, you are more that welcome to use frozen spinach if it is easier to find at the local grocery stores. :)

  7. Max 9.20.2014 at 7:37 pm #

    Hello everyone! I made smoothies for a week and a half using kale, collard greens and two kiwi. The problem is I also take plavix. About 5 days later I have seen big bruises on my arms. I think I’m consuming too much kale. What are your thoughts.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.22.2014 at 11:00 am #

      Hey Max.

      Since we are not doctors or nutritionist the best advice we have is to consult your healthcare provider. :) They will know you best and help you best understand why you are seeing bruises.

  8. Ruth Wright 9.16.2014 at 4:45 pm #

    I found this info. so useful…just signed up for the 30 day Green Smoothie Challenge….cannot wait!

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.17.2014 at 5:39 am #

      :) We can’t wait to share our new recipes with you!!

  9. Aisha 9.15.2014 at 12:03 pm #

    Is there a difference when using baby varieties of veggies? Baby spinach, kale, etc?

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.15.2014 at 1:13 pm #

      Hey Aisha.

      We have found that baby spinach and baby kale is more mild in taste. Great for beginner green smoothie drinkers. :)

  10. Alice 9.8.2014 at 12:43 pm #

    I use often Spinach,Pok Choy Carrot Tops and Beets Tops.Since last week we have again Kale in the Market,but I love most Spinach and Beet Tops

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.12.2014 at 10:13 am #

      You are RAWking those leafy greens, Alice! :)

  11. Deborah 9.6.2014 at 4:09 pm #

    So glad you posted this. I have been just using spinach in my smoothies and only kale occasionally.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.12.2014 at 10:13 am #

      Thanks for sharing Deborah, which leafy green are you going to try next?

  12. joyce 8.29.2014 at 2:27 pm #

    I am really curious to know if that giant collard leaf is really digestible raw. It just looks so tough. Kale, collard, and cabbage sometimes hard to digest? And is it best to keep the proportion small?

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.1.2014 at 6:53 am #

      Hey Joyce.

      Here are some tips to help blend.

      1. Tightly pack 2 cups of leafy greens in a measuring cup and then toss into blender.
      2. Add 2 cups of water and blend together until all leafy chunks are gone.
      3. Add 3 cups of fruit and blend again until smooth.
      4. Pour into a mason jar (or cute cup of your choice).
      5. Gulp or sip like a rawkstar!

      Hope that helps.

  13. Julie 8.28.2014 at 2:55 am #

    Just joined your site yesterday. Fantastic level of information. Just had my first green smoothie and looking forward to stuffing myself with all those lovey leafy greens that I don’t tend to get round to having as part of regular meals. Thanks girls x

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 8.28.2014 at 10:20 am #

      Wonderful Julie! Which smoothie did you try first?

  14. Debra Wallace 8.12.2014 at 6:30 am #

    I have recently read the article by the juice ladies about foods that affect our thyroid. Are there any other greens besides these that I can eat?
    Dandelion greens
    Romaine lettuce
    Carrot tops

    Beet greens

    thank you, deb

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 8.12.2014 at 7:18 am #

      Hey Debra!

      Have you tried any of our detoxing herbs? http://simplegreensmoothies.com/detox-with-herbs

      Cilantro & Kale are great options as well.

      We believe if you rotate you 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!

      Hope that helps.

  15. terri 7.26.2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I had kale and spinich most days in my smoothie and became very I’ll with severe stomach cramps one evening I had to go to the hospital for tests. They found nothing and couldn’t explain it so I did my research and put it down to kale poisoning. Crucifiable veg needs to be semi cooked before hand as its very hard to digest. I as in severe pain for about 2 months!!!

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.28.2014 at 6:35 am #

      Hey Terri!

      So sorry to hear you haven’t been feeling well. Hope you are feeling better. All the best to you in the future. :)

      • Rachel 9.18.2014 at 6:02 pm #

        Hi, I have been having kale and spinach green juice for about 2 years now and have never heard of kale poisoning. I also have many friends that also now dring it and they are all fine. I also raised my eldest son on raw vegies (the only way he would eat them) and he is now a strong healthy young man. I wonder if maybe you just had a bug? :)

  16. Joanneh 7.23.2014 at 6:34 am #

    Do you have a link to a chart showing the different plant categories?

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.25.2014 at 8:17 am #

      No we do not at this time, Joanneh, but that is a great idea.

  17. Joanneh 7.22.2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Are these the only greens families that should be used? Or are they the best tasting to blend with fruits? Does rapini (broccoli rabe) fit in, or mustard greens? Where would mizuna fit?

    Thanks for taking time to answer questions!

    Today was my first attempt at green smoothies, I had kale at breakfast and beet greens for an afternoon snack. Feeling great!

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.23.2014 at 6:08 am #

      Hey Joanneh!

      You can use any kind of leafy green you prefer. These are suggestions. :)

      Wonderful to hear that you are feeling great!

  18. jen 7.16.2014 at 5:20 pm #

    I found a paleo smoothie recipe that actually was VERY good. handful of spinach, handful of kale, about 1/2 a cup of pineapple, 1/4 avacado, 350ml coconut water and 4 icecubes. It is actually extremely good! and you can add more pineapple if you want more of a pinacolada taste. Enjoy!

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.25.2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Thanks for sharing, Jen!

  19. Tony T 7.10.2014 at 4:04 am #

    I tried bay leaves in my smoothie, but the taste is too strong and tends to overwhelm the smoothie.

    so no more, or possibly single leaves on occasion.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.10.2014 at 4:54 am #

      Sounds good! :)

  20. Tony T 7.8.2014 at 12:52 am #

    New day today, so had a strawberry, blackberry (frozen mix) and banana smoothie, with a handful of curly kale and a few sprigs of lemon balm.

    I also added a few overnight soaked cashews to keep it silky smooth and add extra omega 3. Then also added a sprinkle of agar agar powder to add natural iodine.

    Very nice .. set up for a busy day.

    Now I am planning my garden vegetable plot with greens in mind …

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.8.2014 at 5:03 am #

      Thanks Tony! Sounds great!

  21. Tony T 7.7.2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Hi, in my garden i have lots of lush bay leaves, young ones.

    any comments on using them in a smoothie?

    i like to try use what is already growing in my garden.

    i also had a parsley and banana smoothie this morning, nice. got loads in the vegetable plot.

    i have also picked some mature strawberry leaves, and use them sparingly.

    all frozen in singly portion bags, as i am in my pyjamas in the morning … lol

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.8.2014 at 5:14 am #

      Good morning!

      Here is an article on how we enjoy our herbs.


      Keep on growing!

    • Tammy 7.16.2014 at 4:38 pm #

      I never even thought about eating the strawberry leaves! Do you use them sparingly because they are stong flavored?

      • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 8.11.2014 at 7:10 am #

        Hey Tammy!

        You can start with a few and see how that works, if you would like. :)

  22. ESR 7.7.2014 at 6:44 am #

    First, I would like to say that I’m on day 7 of the green smoothie challenge and I am amazed at how energized I feel! I’ve pretty much cut out my caffeine, drinking more water and having a smoothie every morning and maybe in the afternoon for a snack. I’m not dragging during the day even after chasing a toddler around.

    That being said, I tried the piña colada smoothie today. I didn’t have any spinach on hand, plus had been eating it for the past week, so in order to “rotate” I bought arugula. Not loving it, but still got it down. I could eat spinach every day! But if I need to rotate, what would be the best leafy green with a mild taste like spinach? Romaine, I’m guessing? How do you feel about a spring mix?


    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.7.2014 at 8:30 am #

      Have you tried Baby Kale, ESR?

      • ESR 7.7.2014 at 4:17 pm #

        I might give it a try again but I thought I’d had it before and didn’t like it. Maybe it was just kale??? Anyway, went to the store again today and bought more spinach and some romaine. I tried the melon berry smoothie today and added unsalted almond butter for protein. Loved it. I’ve even managed to talk my hubby into letting me make one for him for breakfast tomorrow!

      • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.8.2014 at 5:09 am #

        Awesome ESR! Maybe try baby kale, it is a lot more mild than full grown kale. :)

      • Dave 9.13.2014 at 10:15 am #

        Great suggestion on using baby kale! Do you know if baby kale has the same level of nutrients as full grown kale?

      • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.15.2014 at 6:19 am #

        I am not completely sure, Dave. Full grown or baby Kale will have great nutrients either way, one might have a little more. :)

  23. Sarah 7.6.2014 at 3:07 am #

    So if I eat all from one family, eg spinach, then beet greens, then spinach, etc. is that not considered rotating? Just making sure I’m following.

    • Beth 7.6.2014 at 8:09 am #

      Good questions Sarah. Following.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.9.2014 at 5:21 am #

      Hi Sarah! That is correct. Try eating from different families of leafy greens. i.e. APIACEAE, ASTERACEAE, CRUCIFERS

      Hope that helps. :)

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  25. Christi 6.10.2014 at 4:12 am #

    Like the article. I started to eat much more healthy since last week. I eat 3 cups of veggies for lunch, about 2 green, green beans and broccoli or baby marrow. And one cup of carrot or yams. For dinner I will eat half of my plate with mixed leafy greens, and small piece of meat. But I read on the internet that spinach and kale block the absorption of calsium :( Now I don’t know if it’s such a good thing to eat so much spinach and kale every day.

    • SGS Rawkstar Dan 6.10.2014 at 1:31 pm #

      Hi Christi!
      Spinach and kale are great for your body. Could you give us the link where you read that they block calcium? We don’t normally eat leafy greens with EVERY meal, but they are great to have for one to two meals a day!

    • ghostaliaz 6.14.2014 at 6:23 am #

      Don’t believe that, Kale & spinach does not block the absorption of calcium or anything else for that matter. Don’t let anyone especially the medical industry or pharmaceutical companies stop you from eating greens or any veggies & fruits because, they keep making up rumors so people will stop eating healthy & start getting sick & then whats next? Purchasing there killer Prescription Medicines. Don’t believe the hype because they will say anything to make a sell. All Veggies,Fruit’s, nut’s & seeds aka(plant based diet) are the healthiest things on earth to eat & do not let anyone stop you from feeding your body healthy food like all veggies,fruit’s, nut’s & seeds. A plant based diet is the healthiest diet for any & every one’s body no matter what anyone lie’s & says. Do not believe them because all they want is for all of us to get sick, so they can sell us more & more killer prescription drugs &as far as I’m concerned they can keep all of there processed foods (Lab Foods), lab made drugs out of my body. Let thy food, be thy medicine. Eat to live, not live to eat people.

      • hh 6.20.2014 at 10:06 am #

        Quit being such an ignorant troll. If you’re interested in actually learning a bit more about nutrition, and how little we actually know about nutrition, read a book by Nathaniel Johnson Called “All Natural”. Also, if you have hypothyroidism, which I do, eating brassicas (kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc.) alongside other “super health foods” can hinder your thyroid’s ability to function properly. Here’s a link :http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2014/01/the-dark-side-of-kale-and-how-to-eat-around-it.
        Also, keep in mind that vegetables don’t have fangs, claws, or big bulging muscles. In order for plants to avoid being consumed into extinction, they have developed chemical defenses to counteract the lack of physical defenses ( for the most part).

    • Vicky 6.15.2014 at 7:18 pm #

      False, kale is one of the best sources of calcium available, aside from oranges, arugula (rocket) and sea vegetables. On the other hand, meat and other animal products strip you body of calcium to neutralise the acidic phosphorus and sulphur found in them.

      • Liz 7.25.2014 at 10:41 am #

        Vicky, a balanced diet is what is important. Excessive protein intake will create excessive ash that needs to be neutralized, i.e., leeching calcium from bone. This does not happen with a balanced diet that can well include animal products. A good source I used for my masters in Nutrition program was Krause’s Food and Nutrition Therapy and Devlin’s Biochemistry texts.

      • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 7.25.2014 at 3:38 pm #

        Thanks for sharing Liz.

  26. ck 5.30.2014 at 11:06 am #

    Hi Ladies, I’m a lazy and busy person so I find it easier on weekends to buy different leafy veggies (my reg. choices are kale, swiss chard, romaine & spinach) & fruit. I clean, chop up, & mix (all leaves together) and I do the same with fruit in another container. I then take small bags, place a mix of fruit, ginger, turmeric; then leafy vegetables in them and freeze. Every morning I take out a small bag from the freezer and place in blender along with goji berries, chia and/or hemp, I have enough to start and end my day, each day. Should I rethink my practice of mixing?

    • SGS Rawkstar Dan 5.30.2014 at 2:23 pm #

      Hi ck!
      It sounds like you have a good system down. I might recommend keep the different types of leafy greens separate instead of mixing them all, but that’s about it :-)

    • Sarah 7.9.2014 at 10:05 am #

      You don’t sound lazy to me! :)

  27. Aubergine 5.17.2014 at 5:20 pm #

    For those concerned about the effect of cruciferous veggies on thyroid: http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/cruciferous_vegetables_and_thyroid.aspx

    Short answer: get enough iodine and you shouldn’t have any problem.

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