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!

565 Responses to “Why you should rotate your greens”

  1. John Callan 8.25.2016 at 9:03 am #

    I’m new to Simple Green and trying to replace all my meals with smoothies and salads to cure my diabetes and lose weight. I have plant-based protein formula and would like to know if I should be adding this to my smoothies and if so how much? Or, can I get enough protein from green leaf smoothies?

    • SGS Rawkstar 8.25.2016 at 11:51 am #

      Hi John,

      Looking to use your green smoothie as a meal replacement? We suggest adding protein + healthy fats to ensure you’re fueling your body with a complete meal. Learn more about adding protein + our favorite meal replacement booster combos here…

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

      Also, we’re green smoothie lovers alright, but we’re not doctors or nutritionists. It’s always best to run green smoothies and our recipes past your personal physician before making changes to your diet.

      Thanks for blendin’ with us!

  2. Sonya 7.28.2016 at 6:31 pm #

    Hi, I know how Spinach is a Rawkstar but sometimes, it’s hard to find it on local public wet markets here in Philippines. Can I use Basella (vine spinach) or Alugbati instead? Just want to make sure that it’s okay. Thank you!

    • SGS Rawkstar 7.29.2016 at 7:20 am #

      Hi Sonya,

      Of course, we love switching up our leafy greens…especially when using leafy greens local to our area!

      Cheers!

      • Sonya 7.29.2016 at 8:30 pm #

        Cool! Thanks Rawkstars! You’re website and your passion is making a great impact to our lives! Keep rawking! 🙂 <3

  3. Ann 6.29.2016 at 12:50 pm #

    I have read about the amazing benefits of wheatgrass. I just bought some and want to put them into my smoothies. But was wondering if adding the wheatgrass to the greens already called for in the smoothies would be too much greens. The serving size for the wheatgrass I have is 1/4 teaspoon.

    • SGS Rawkstar 6.29.2016 at 1:29 pm #

      Hi Ann!

      Totally up to you! You can absolutely add wheatgrass to your smoothies :). You may just have to experiment with the amount to find what tastes best for you.

      Cheers!

  4. Ann 5.18.2016 at 12:09 pm #

    Hi, I am new to “Rawkstar. I have a question: I buy the pre-package of “Super Greens” that contain at least 3 different greens. The package I have now is Trader Joes “Power to the Greens” which is baby kale, baby chard and baby spinach, all organic. I usually add parsley and cilantro to them, but the next package I buy will probably have different greens. ie: spinach, bok choy and mustard greens. So, am I already rotating my greens?

    • SGS Rawkstar 5.18.2016 at 5:29 pm #

      Hi Ann,

      Great question! And we love Trader Joe’s mixed greens too! As long as you’re changing up your greens, and giving your body a break between weeks (ex. taking week off from kale, and then starting back up the following week), then you’re rawkin’ it!!

      Cheers!

  5. Claire 5.18.2016 at 1:31 am #

    Are there more greens for “APIACEAE” group?

    • SGS Rawkstar 5.18.2016 at 7:39 am #

      Hi Claire,

      Thanks for reaching out! Looking for more asteraceae options? Try reaching for lettuce, chicory, or endive!

      Cheers!

  6. Iva 5.16.2016 at 4:01 am #

    Unfortunately I have gastritis and colitis. I have been drinking green smoothies for a week instead of breakfast, but I got a strong stomach pain. Can you tell me how to add green leafy vegetables in my smoothies to have no pain? I’m worried by the formation of oxalate kidney stones, as I am inclined to form such. What would you advise me?

    • SGS Rawkstar 5.16.2016 at 11:22 am #

      Hi Iva,

      We’re green smoothie lovin’ rawkstars alright, but not doctors or nutritionists – we suggest you talk with your doctor about any health concerns— I’m sure they can help you decide what is best for you and your body.

      Cheers to health + happiness!

    • Alex E Smith 7.28.2016 at 7:10 pm #

      Add ginger to your smoothie. It soothes the stomach

    • Tamara 7.30.2016 at 9:31 am #

      Iva – 1. I AM NOT A MEDICAL DOCTOR nor am I a NUTRITIONIST/DIETICIAN.

      I have colitis, also, and my doc put me on a Low FODMAP eating plan due to my body’s reaction to some foods. It’s how your body MAY be not digesting certain sugars.

      http://fodmapliving.com/the-science/stanford-university-low-fodmap-diet/

      Peel some ginger and add pineapple to most of your smoothies for anti-inflammatory and tummy soothing properties.

      Hope this helps!

  7. Claire 5.16.2016 at 1:56 am #

    I appreciate your information.
    I keep trying the cycle what you told.
    I’ve been drinking my green smoothies for 3 weeks now, and it was fine until yesterday.
    Regarding “ASTERACEAE”, there are only two types of greens and it’s very tough for me to find.
    First, the dandelion greens are difficult for me to find. (I’m living in the city of Seoul in Korea, and it’s not a popular green.)
    Also, its taste is very strong for me. (I don’t think it is 100% same dandelion green with U.S’s.). I have also added some fruits. I don’t want to eat only romaine lettuce when I’m taking “ASTERACEAE” greens.
    I also want to stick to the cycle that you mentioned. Are there any more greens in “ASTERACEAE”?
    If so, please let me know. Or, can you please give me any advice?

    • SGS Rawkstar 5.16.2016 at 11:22 am #

      Hi Claire,

      Thanks for reaching out! Looking for more asteraceae options? Try reaching for lettuce, chicory, or endive. Also, if you’re in Seoul, feel free to reach for greens that are local to your area!

      Cheers!

  8. Lynn 5.13.2016 at 3:19 pm #

    I was on week 8 of green smoothies meal replacement for breakfast…spinach..pineapple..mango…banana, coconut oil and plant based protein powder. I felt great!!! …salads for lunch and a regular balanced dinner. I was nauseated for a couple of days and then had diarrhea for 12 days. I ended up at the doctors who told me to cut them for 3 weeks and go on the brat diet. I wondered about not rotating greens or if I had contaminated produce. I was back to normal and just went back on and rotated to Kale. However..I am using the same mango, pineapple and banana that I had cut up and froze from when I was sick. I was nauseated while drinking my first one yesterday….and vomitted today after the second sip. Can’t figure out what is doing it. A food allergy? The protein powder? No rash or anything else. Is there one ingredient that would be more likely to cause an allergy or digestive issue?

    • SGS Rawkstar 5.16.2016 at 11:13 am #

      Hi Lynn,

      Oh no! We’re so sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. It’s definitely important to review your ingredients and ensure you don’t have a food allergy or intolerance. Because we’re green smoothie lovin’ rawkstars, but not doctors or nutritionists – we suggest you talk with your doctor about any health concerns— I’m sure they can help you decide what is best for you and your body.

      Cheers to health + happiness!

  9. Yemima 4.30.2016 at 1:44 am #

    Hello! It is fun to read your web.
    One thing that I’d like to ask, do we have to boil or maybe steam the veggies first before we make smoothies? Because, you know, I once read and being told that eat raw food everyday can cause toxo. This is like a bad news because I want to consume green smoothies everyday. Thank you!

    • SGS Rawkstar 5.2.2016 at 8:32 am #

      Hi Yemima,

      Thank you so much for reaching out! You’re right, 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.

      We love consuming our leafy greens raw, and for that reason we suggest rotating your leafy greens. This will prevent those small toxins from building up and negatively affecting your body.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Amy DeBruyn 4.28.2016 at 6:25 am #

    We’ve been using the Earthbound Farms Power Greens (baby kale, chard, and spinach) for-just-about-ever… I had never heard about rotating greens. My husband and I each drink a smoothie every morning that has 2-3 cups of these greens. Since these greens are from different greens families, would you say we need to break from this product? Great site – thanks for the info!
    -Amy

    • SGS Rawkstar 4.28.2016 at 7:14 am #

      Hi Amy,

      We’re all about variety here at Simple Green Smoothies. Rotating your greens allows your body to benefit from a wide arrange of nutrients, and helps prevent oxalate build-up. But no need to break up with your power greens. Simply take a week off, blend a different combination, and then add them back to your smoothie the following week.

      Cheers!

  11. Johnny 4.27.2016 at 6:52 pm #

    I really appreciate the information on the website and I have been extracting and blending green smoothies for a week now and I have been using Baby Kale about 2 cups, 1 whole Banana, 1 cup of frozen pineapple chunks, 1 cup of Almond milk unsweeten, and 1 cup of Blended juice orange, pineapple, and banana juice. and next week I’m going to buy Spinach and substitute it for the kale. I’m drinking a 32 oz Green Smoothie twice a day I have not lost any weight yet but I am hoping to soon. What do you think about my Green Smoothie Recipe I am currently using?

    • SGS Rawkstar 4.28.2016 at 7:12 am #

      Hi Johnny,

      Thank you so much for reaching out. We’re so excited to have you blendin’ with us! Your recipe sounds awesome! Are you using your green smoothies as a meal replacement to meet your weight loss goals? If so, we suggest adding protein + healthy fats to ensure your’e fueling your body with a complete meal. Check out our favorite meal replacement booster combos here…

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

      Do note that all of our recipes make two (16oz) servings. We suggest sticking between one to two servings per day to help fuel your body.

      Please let reach out with any questions, and let us know how we can continue to help you reach your health and wellness goals!

  12. Cindy 4.18.2016 at 5:51 am #

    Hi Jen and Jadah,
    I have been juicing with you for a few months now. I was wondering if I really have to substitute my spinach if I am eating romaine lettuce in salads every day and having cilantro in some of my smoothies? I just love the spinach so much. I find romaine and a few other greens very bitter in a smoothie.
    🙂 Cindy

    • SGS Rawkstar 4.18.2016 at 11:15 am #

      Hi Cindy,

      Great question! Even if you’re fueling your body with different greens it’s important to give your body a break from the nutrients in one specific leafy green to prevent build-up. That’s why we suggest taking a week off and adding a different green to your recipes. Finding a few greens too bitter? Try reaching for baby greens! They’re packed with the same nutrients as their mature counterparts, but with a milder flavor!

  13. Mary Lou 4.10.2016 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi! Having good luck with the green smoothies but find spinach is giving me black stools. What gives with that?

    • SGS Rawkstar 4.11.2016 at 8:29 am #

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks for reaching out! Spinach is packed with iron, which can cause a change in color. Concerned? As we’re not doctors or nutritionists we suggest reaching out to your physician to ensure our recipes + ingredients are the right choice for you + your body.

      Cheers!

  14. Miki 3.20.2016 at 8:55 am #

    Here’s another question I’ve been meaning to ask. When measuring greens, is it one cup (or whatever) packed, loose, or medium?

  15. Miki 3.20.2016 at 7:20 am #

    InI like the idea of the rotations! To implement this in your smoothie recipes, would I swap out the spinach or kale for another green in the same family?

    • SGS Rawkstar 3.21.2016 at 11:44 am #

      Hi Miki,

      Thanks for reaching out! When rotating your leafy greens we suggest switching between leafy green families. For example, love spinach + kale? Blend spinach one week, then the following week take the week off spinach and blend kale instead. Rotating kale + spinach is a great option because they’re both mild in flavor but from separate leafy green families!

      Cheers!

  16. Antonia 3.9.2016 at 3:40 am #

    Hi, I am relatively new to the green smoothies and have been having them for my breakfast for the last month and loving it. I have been using kale and spinach. Do you recommed using both of those together in a smoothie or should one week I use kale with something else then the next spinach with something else?

    Thanks x

    • SGS Rawkstar 3.9.2016 at 6:57 am #

      Hi Antonia,

      We’re so excited to have you blendin’ with us! We love combining our leafy greens, so blending kale + spinach together is a great idea. When it comes to rotating your greens, it is important to give your body a break to help prevent oxalate build-up. So if you enjoy blending kale + spinach together, try blending a different combination the following week, and then blend kale + spinach again.

      Hope this helps!

  17. sally 3.7.2016 at 7:21 am #

    Might sound like a silly question but rather than rotate the greens, can you just use a variety of different greens in one smoothie but less of them?

    So rather than 1 week kale one week spinach, one week romaine, have all three everyday for 3 weeks but 1/3 of each?

    • SGS Rawkstar 3.7.2016 at 7:57 pm #

      Hi Sally,

      Not a silly question at all! The reason we suggest rotating your greens is you’re giving your body a quick break from the nutrients of a specific green family. That week off allows your body to absorb different nutrients + prevent oxalate build-up. While we love blending with different greens, doing so each day without a break can still put you + your body at risk of build-up.

      Hope that helps answer your question!

  18. ruby 3.6.2016 at 10:01 pm #

    Hey im pretty new at green smoothies i currently only uses spinach and one tbs of flexseeds, but I’m an extreme anemia, vitamin b deficient,vitamin d deficient and i don’t drink milk anymore so what should I be adding to my smoothies in order to get all the nutritional i need
    I don’t want to turn to supplement. Thanks

    • SGS Rawkstar 3.7.2016 at 7:55 pm #

      Hi Ruby,

      Thanks for reaching out! We’re green smoothie lovin’ rawkstars all right, but we’re not doctors or nutritionists. We suggest you talk with your doctor about any health concerns. If your physician suggests adding specific ingredients to your diet to help combat your anemia + vitamins deficiencies, we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!

      Cheers 🙂

  19. Ann 3.3.2016 at 1:40 pm #

    Thank you for this information. I have been using only spinach and kale. I will try all the others that is mentioned above. It will be a challenge………..Ann

    • SGS Rawkstar 3.4.2016 at 1:24 pm #

      Hi Ann!

      You’re so welcome :). Spinach and kale are my go-to greens, as well, but the others really are a nice change! When you rotate your greens, not only do you prevent oxalate build-up, but you’re also giving your body some different nutrients. It’s a win-win!

  20. Nikki 2.29.2016 at 3:52 pm #

    Is it more beneficial to rotate greens from one family to the next week to week, or get both in one week? I usually have a green every night in my smoothie, and I was wondering if it would be better to do a week of kale, then a week of chard/spinach, or do a week where I switch back and forth every day. This is a really thought- provoking article, thank you for this!

    • SGS Rawkstar 2.29.2016 at 4:35 pm #

      Hi Nikki,

      Great question! We suggest rotating week to week. That way you’re giving your body a whole week off from one leafy green family to help prevent oxalate build-up.

      Hope this helps!

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