Step aside salad. You’re no longer the only way to get dark leafy greens into my diet. I’m sharing a leafy green list of greatness with you as well as how to use greens in a smoothie like the best green smoothie (or salad or soup or anything) as well as why it’s good to rotate your greens and try something like a kale banana smoothie every so often. Ready, set, go green!

several kinds of leafy greens laid out on a white counter including cabbage, kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, carrot tops, arugula and spinach.
Table of Contents
  1. What are Leafy Greens?
  2. The Ultimate Dark Leafy Greens List
  3. Crucifers
  4. Amaranth
  5. Asteraceae
  6. Apiaceae
  7. How Often Should You Rotate Greens?
  8. Freezing Your Leafy Greens
  9. Leafy Greens FAQs
  10. The Ultimate Green Smoothie App

What are Leafy Greens?

Leafy greens are super important for a healthy diet. They’re nutrient-dense, green veggies that provide tons of vitamins and minerals. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, a daily serving of leafy greens can lead to slower age-related cognitive decline.

Greens can be found as the tops of other plants (here’s looking at you, carrot tops and beet greens), or as plants in their own right. They come in all shapes, sizes, textures, shades and seasons. They aren’t even all in the same plant family.

If your taste buds have ever balked at something dark green and leafy, never fear! I’ve got some great new options for you to blend.

dark leafy greens in a circle with labels in the center including bok choy, kale, cabbage, chard, arugula, carrot tops, romaine, collard, beet tops and spinach.

The Ultimate Dark Leafy Greens List

I often talk about rotating your greens. This is because greens come from all different plant families, each offering different health benefits. Yet if spinach is your jam, no worries! Your body will tell you when it’s time for a leafy green change-up. Read on to learn about some different types of greens, as well as my favorite options in each family.

a pile of curly kale leaves.


Having a health issue? Kale can help with that. Seriously, kale is at the top of the superfood chain. With 684% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, 206% of the RDV of vitamin A and 134% of the RDV of vitamin C, this dark leafy green packs a health punch. Kale has the highest level of antioxidants when consumed raw, yet does retain some health benefits when cooked. Try kale in this simple kale smoothie.

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 steamed, but adding them raw to your smoothies will provide greater health benefits. Try some alkaline recipes to experiment with collards.

Cabbage is yet another example of a cruciferous cancer-fighting leafy green. This veggie can actually be purple, red, white or green, but is definitely still considered a leafy green. I love using cabbage as a plant-based taco shell, blended in a cabbage smoothie or roasted cabbage with light seasoning. Loaded with fiber, folate, vitamin B6 and antioxidants which help fight inflammation.

Bok Choy
This unique green vegetable is typically grown and harvested in China. Full of vitamins A and C, bok choy ranks high for nutrient density as well. All parts of the plant can be used: shredded in a salad, my vegetarian ramen, cooked in soup or blended in a smoothie.

More than just a garnish, this leafy green has a peppery taste and a full nutrient profile. One cup contains 27.7% of the RDV of vitamin K. It has a stronger flavor than other cruciferous greens on my list, yet is fun in lemon arugula salad or strawberry arugula salad, homemade arugula pesto, or as a pizza topping on my incredibly delicious plant-based pizza recipe.

a pile of fresh spinach leaves.


It’s 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 number of nutrients:

  • cancer-fighting
  • blood pressure lowering
  • bone strengthening
  • cardiovascular helping
  • brain boosting
  • skin smoothing
  • vision improving
  • inflammation reducing
  • energy increasing

Beet Greens
I recommend branching out and trying beet greens for your next smoothie! They include a wide variety of nutrients, and can easily be substituted in any recipe with spinach, kale or chard. Our friends at Epicurious will kick-start your love for dark leafy beet greens with some of their favorite recipes.

Looking to put a pep in your leafy green step? Chard is a colorful, dark leaf known for its ability to regulate the body’s blood sugar. Translation? If diabetes or maintaining blood sugar levels is a concern, add this veggie to your regular rotation. Perfect for the afternoon smoothie pick-me-up!

lots of fresh romaine lettuce leaves on a towel.


Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce is good for the 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 a heart attack.

Not a fan of lettuce salads? Then use romaine as a food wrap like I do in these Thai lettuce wraps or blend it into this gazpacho soup recipe.

pile of carrot greens and the tops of orange carrots.


Carrot Tops
Who knew those frilly greens on the tops of carrots could come in handy? #NoFoodWaste. Filled with chlorophyll, which can fight against tumor growth and acts as a cleansing agent, carrot tops are the perfect addition to smoothies like this carrot top smoothie.

If you really want to boost your next smoothie, toss in the carrot and its top.

How Often Should You Rotate Greens?

Most of the smoothie and meal recipes I create use kale or spinach. That’s because these are the most easily found and affordable leafy greens available at the grocery store. Plus, they are in different leafy green families, so it makes rotating my greens easy-peasy.

Alkaloid Build Up

Why is it important to rotate through this leafy green list? All greens have small amounts of toxins. If you only consume greens from one family, your body may start to experience alkaloid build up. This is very rare and easy to avoid. Just try a different leafy green every once in a while.

I recommend rotating your greens once a week. This way, your body doesn’t get too much of a good thing in one leafy green family, and you get the chance to reward your body with new nutrients from a different green family.

Basically, by rotating greens on a regular basis, you avoid building up the toxins from one green. And, this gives you a reason to try that new fun green you’re always eyeing at the farmer’s market.

While our green smoothies are super easy to swap out one green for another, I’ve also got a meal planner full of plant-based recipes. Rawk the Year makes finding new recipes a breeze, and helps you incorporate the whole rainbow into your week. This meal planner also equips you with the kitchen skills to change up your veggies with ease!

several ziploc bags containing different kinds of leafy greens, ready to be frozen. The one on top is labeled 2 cups kale.

Freezing Your Leafy Greens

Ever wonder how to use up all that beautiful produce you just bought, before it starts to wilt? Even though I make green smoothies daily, I still find that my greens never stay fresh as long as I need.

To lengthen the shelf life of those leafy greens and make rotating your greens as easy as opening your freezer, I came up with a way to freeze your greens. This way, you can have your greens and eat them too! Since I typically buy spinach and kale at Costco, I found that freezing them in ice cube trays and then storing them in freezer containers is the perfect solution to maximizing the freshness.

Bonus: Frozen greens can help keep that smoothie cool.

Leafy Greens FAQs

What are examples of leafy greens?

You’ve probably heard of spinach, kale and lettuce, but leafy greens also include carrot tops, beet greens, swiss chard, arugula and more! They can grow all on their own, or be found on the tops of other plants (like broccoli, beets and carrots).

What is the healthiest leafy green?

All leafy greens are incredibly nutritious and great to mix into your diet. Kale and spinach are probably the most nutrient-dense, yet you need a variety of greens (and other fruits and vegetables) for the best health. Don’t be afraid to give a new one a try next time you’re at the store. You might be surprised by mustard greens, bok choy and more!

How do you eat leafy greens?

Greens don’t just take place in salads or garnishes for burgers. You can use them in green smoothies, all kinds of pesto, filling for stuffed mushrooms or potatoes. Pretty much anything you want! Next time you are grocery shopping, grab a new-to-you leafy green and get adventurous with how you prepare it.

a head of green cabbage.

The Ultimate Green Smoothie App

Our amazing app, Daily Blends Smoothie app., has hundreds of recipes ready for you to work your way through the leafy greens list! You can sort by the ingredients you have on hand or the type of smoothie you want to try. It’s a great app to try a new recipe and catalog your favorites.

What are your favorite leafy greens? Drop a comment below and let me know if this list has inspired you to try a new ingredient, or if you’ve got a new green for me to try!

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    1. Sonya, def give the dandelion greens a try! And don’t forget a banana to balance out the slightly bitter taste of the greens. 😉 Let us know what you think after you try them!

    1. Hey Dawn! You can definitely use bok choy in your smoothies. It has a mild taste, similar to cabbage so keep that in mind when deciding which fruits to mix in (I might use fruits that are on the sweeter-tasting side).

    1. Jason, we are always fans of kitchen gardens and growing your own produce. 🙂

  1. I always like to use spinach + kale or spinach + power greens in my smoothie. I buy it in bags. In a pinch, i.e. I’m out of bagged greens, I forage from the “weed patch”, a.k.a. my yard and get wild dandelion, plantain, herbs, violet leaves, whatever.

    1. Lori, I love that you forage in your backyard! There’s so much good stuff out there that most of us call “weeds” and it’s great that you take advantage of what’s right outside your door. 🙂

  2. How do I find smoothies that use each of these greens? Do you just substitute for whatever greens you are eating that week? Also, do you have recipes for smoothies that “flip the ratio” as you mentioned to have more greens than fruit?


    1. Hey Michelle,

      Most of our recipes you can swap the greens for whatever you have on hand or to keep up your rotation. Also we do not have specific recipes for the “flip ratio” because you can use that with any recipe we have. We like to keep our recipes easy and versatile. All you have to do is find a recipe you like and simply switch the fruits and veggies amount and your smoothie will be “less sweet”.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Hi wow very helpful tips. Love juicing. Just learnt from a friend that she adds amaranth leaves to her smoothies! I didn’t know that.

    Do you have recipes?

    1. Hi Flo,

      While we don’t have any recipes with amaranth leaves (yet!), don’t let that stop you! Our recipes are here to inspire you, so don’t hesitate to change it up + try adding amaranth leaves to any of our recipes!

  4. One of the best investments that I have made was in a Vitamix blender! I’m loving mine every morning to make my green smoothie. There are other great blenders on the market as well. To our health!

    1. Hi Al,

      We love Vitamix too! Nothing beats a powerful multi-purpose blender!

    2. I also just bought a Vitamix. It’s powerful and slightly freaks me out. I now can safely get rid of my other 2 juicers that also won the intimidation game.

    3. Hey Deborah,

      That is so exciting!!! I bet you are loving it already. It can be really intimidating though so I definitely get that. Pretty soon it will feel like second nature and that you’ve had it forever 🙂

  5. I am doing a 10 day green smoothie cleanse. I use a power blend of greens (chard, spinach and kale) everyday. Is this a bad idea?

    1. Hi Keeny,

      Worried about oxalate build-up while using your power blend? 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.

      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!

  6. Hi, I am overweight and had high blood pressure. My friend and I decided to lose weight together. She lives in NY and I live in Florida. She turned me on to smoothies, but mostly fruits. I was using an orange, an apple, a banana, strawberries and blueberries and coconut water. I was losing weight, but then I gained 3 lbs! I spoke to my dr and asked how that was possible? Whammo, he said I was consuming way too much sugar from all that fruit. So, I began to stop the fruit smoothies and moved to kale, spinach, celery, carrot and threw in some frozen strawberries and a handful of frozen blueberries. For liquid I use coconut water with no added sugars or fruit. Now, the last 2 dr visits were particular, when I asked about my pressure IT WAS SO MUCH LOWER, the first time I figured it was just a fluke, but when it happened again at a different dr I WAS STYMIED. Why was my pressure changing (I never took pressure meds) then it hit me…THE GREENS! I couldn’t believe I actually was doing something that made such a healthy difference. However, I’ve been using the same ingredients for a month now and I just bought another giant bag of both kale and spinach. How am I doing? How can I incorporate other greens, and is broccoli thrown in raw…just florets? What about the leafy green part of celery, I have been tossing it in the garbage. PS I throw in some Bobs Redmill unmodified potato starch or a green unripened banana for resistance starch. What am I doing right and what am I doing wrong? Thanks for your knowledge, it is appreciated, Yvonne

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      It sounds like you’re rawkin’ it + and I’m so excited to hear you’re reaching your health + wellness goals with green smoothies! We love blending with a variety of greens. Some of my favorites are kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, and beet greens!

      And you can definitely add the celery greens, other great veggies to add are beet + carrot greens. And no waste!!

      And yes, just toss the broccoli in raw! Here’s one of my favorite recipes to add broccoli to…

      Also, if you’re using your green smoothie as a meal replacement, have you tried adding protein + healthy fats? We suggest adding them to ensure you’re fueling your body with a complete meal. Check out our favorite meal replacement booster combos here…

      Hope this helps! And reach out with any questions!

  7. I started doing green smoothies in the summer of 2015 I had them everyday twice a day. In February I was at the doctor with kidney stones due to high oxalate build up. I was advised to lay off the green smoothies for awhile (which was very hard for me as I loved the energy it gave me) and am just getting back into them. I want to rotate my greens, but am not really sure what to mix with each type of green for optimal flavour…..any suggestions?

    1. Hi Mel,

      Variety is the fruit of life! I love switching up my leafy greens. So while one of our recipes may call for spinach, change it up + try it with chard or kale! Don’t hesitate to experiment.

  8. What can I mix with greens in a smoothie that will overpower the green coloring? My husband will not drink “anything green”

  9. Thank you for this website! I started drinking a green smoothie for breakfast about a month ago and so far its the best dietary change I’ve made (27 y/o male with limited cooking skills but great ordering out skills).
    I have 2 questions for you,

    1. I have been using a green powder (Amazing Grass Green Superfood) but now I’m worried of Oxalate build up from the mix of the same greens daily. Do these powders contain oxalate?

    2. I workout in the morning and like to add a scoop of protein to my smoothie, do you have any recommendations for protein packed smoothies? I use plant-based protein blends but now I’m worried about rotating them (typically quinoa, hemp, pea, chia blend).

    1. Hi Sean,

      YAY!! We’re so excited to have you blending with us + love hearing that you feel green smoothies is the best dietary change you’ve made!! We’re blushing!

      Worried about oxalate build-up in green powder? Because they’re processed, I would assume that some of the oxalates have been broken down. But it’s always best to reach out to the company behind your favorite powdered greens, as it may vary based on how they’re processed.

      Looking for some protein packed green smoothies? Here are a few of our favorites…

      We also love this plant-based protein from The Nautral Citizen. Check them out here…

      Also, worried about rotating your plant-based proteins? We always support variety. It protects your body from build-up, but also ensures you’re fueling your body with a wide-range of nutrients.

  10. Could you choose 2 veggies (1 each from a different family i.e. one week kale and chard then the next week spinach and cabbage) to put in or would you only recommend 1 each time? I ask as my favourite smoothie has spinach, kale, broccoli, celery, mango and pineapple and I’ve had this everyday for about 2 weeks now but I’m worried about the poisoning thing

    1. Hi Lyndsey,

      You definitely could! We love mixing up our leafy greens. We simply suggest taking a week off from a specific family of greens. For example…blend crucifers and apiaceae this week, then next week blend up amaranth and asteraceae. Also, everyone’s body is different and has different sensitivities to oxalate build-up. So it’s always important to listen to your body when determining how often to rotate your greens.

  11. I’ve been using spinach as my staple ingredient for green smoothies twice a day (for 2 years now)

    I tend to rotate the other ingredients such as Broccoli, Kale, Celery twice a day (morning I might toss in Broccoli and at night I’ll toss in Kale and Celery)

    It has been working for me since, no doctor visits or anything!

    1. Hi Ed,

      YAY! We love changing up our veggies + leafy greens. We’ve also found that oxalate sensitivity is different for everyone.

    1. Hi Beverly,

      Washing your greens with vinegar and water is a great way to remove bacteria and pesticides from your leafy greens. But it’s still important to rotate your greens, to prevent toxin build-up from the natural toxins that occur within the plant.