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The Best Leafy Greens List


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.”

We made a best leafy greens list below, but first…

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 fingertips 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. Use a variety of leafy greens in your smoothies— like kale, spinach, chard (silverbeet), romaine and other lettuces, herbs, and carrot tops.

spinach leafy greens

“I’m freaking out! I only use spinach!”

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.

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.

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.

leafy greens variety

Your leafy greens list:

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:

kale2

Kale
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. Click here to blend this kale smoothie.

collardgreens2


Collard 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. Try this collard greens smoothie recipe right here.

cabbage

Cabbage
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. Try this cabbage smoothie right here.


Amaranth:

spinach

Spinach
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! Click here to blend this spinach smoothie.

beets

Beet 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. Click here to blend this beet smoothie.

chard

Chard
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! Click here to blend this chard green smoothie.


Asteraceae:

dandelions

Dandelion 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!” Click here to blend this dandelion greens smoothie.

romaine

Romaine 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. Click here for this romaine smoothie bowl recipe.


Apiaceae:

celery

Celery
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. Click here to blend this celery green smoothie.

cilantro

Cilantro
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. Click here to blend this cilantro green smoothie.

carrots

Carrot 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. Click here to blend this carrot tops green smoothie.


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.

Now that we talked about why to rotate your greens, check out our awesome tips on How To Freeze Leafy Greens.


The Ultimate Green Smoothie App

Our amazing app, Daily Blends, has 100s of recipes ready for you to work your way through the leafy greens list! Click here to get it.

COMMENT BELOW: Which leafy green is your favorite from our list?

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  1. Yvonne Scott

    April 28th, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    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

  2. SGS Rawkstar Amanda

    May 1st, 2017 at 7:22 am

    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! Learn more about our favorites here…

    https://simplegreensmoothies.com/leafy-greens

    And you can definitely add the clergy 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…
    https://simplegreensmoothies.com/recipes/green-smoothies/pineapple-kale-coconut-oil

    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…

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

    Hope this helps! And reach out with any questions!

  3. Keeny

    May 3rd, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    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?

  4. SGS Rawkstar Amanda

    May 3rd, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    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!

  5. Al F

    July 10th, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    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!

  6. SGS Rawkstar Amanda

    September 18th, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Hi Al,

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

  7. Deborah Korch

    October 13th, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    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.

  8. SGS Rawkstar Carissa

    October 16th, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    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 🙂

  9. Rophina Atanga

    November 5th, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    7 simple is great

  10. SGS Rawkstar Amanda

    November 6th, 2017 at 9:11 am

    YAY! Thanks for the love, Rophina!

  11. Flo

    January 29th, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    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?

  12. SGS Rawkstar Amanda

    January 30th, 2018 at 10:05 am

    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!

  13. Michelle Fox

    October 4th, 2018 at 9:11 am

    How do I fine 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?

    Thanks!

  14. SGS Rawkstar Amanda

    October 5th, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    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!

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