How To Alternate Leafy Greens And Why It Matters

by The Smoothie Guy

I am probably not the first to tell you that you should rotate the leafy greens that you use. And I bet you are wondering why you cannot have spinach in all your daily smoothies.

Well, actually there are a few reasons…

Certain Leafy Greens Boast Better Nutritional Value


When you use a wide range of leafy greens, you enjoy the benefits of a nutritionally diverse diet. Every food has its own unique amounts of nutrients. That means that when you eat a wide range of leafy greens, your body is getting a better balance of minerals and vitamins.

To illustrate this point, kale has double the amount of iron and calcium that spinach can offer you (but wait, it gets even better… Dandelion greens are even more nutritious than kale!). So, when you sometimes opt for kale instead of spinach, you will improve your mineral intake.

Another reason is that there are specific greens that boast unique phytonutrients. So, when you eat only a few leafy greens you will be missing out on these phytonutrients. For instance, kale and other cruciferous veggies have sulforaphane. What makes this phytonutrient so great is that it can play a role in protecting you from cancer as well as other conditions.

So, why only add spinach to your smoothie when dandelion greens and kale can provide you with more protein, calcium and iron?

If you are looking smoothie recipes that include all kind of leafy greens, I suggest you to check out “The Smoothie Diet” program.

Do Not Overdose On Anti-Nutrients

Well, every leafy green has a little bit of toxins that keep the plant safe from predators.

For instance, some cruciferous veggies such as kale have goitrogens that can impede the functioning of the thyroid when a person already battles with a weakened thyroid. While spinach has oxalic acid that can have a negative impact on those who are more likely to suffer from kidney stones.

Rest assured, if you do not struggle with some pre-existing health problem that these leafy greens can aggravate, you can still enjoy some kale or spinach every day. Plus, it is very unlikely that you will battle with any kind of toxicity if you do eat leafy greens more than average.

Though, when you presently suffer from any medical condition that can be aggravated by a particular compound found in certain leafy greens, only then there could be a problem.

There is nothing wrong with a few handfuls every day. However, when you blend three or more bunches of leafy greens on a daily basis, you can potentially take in too many anti-nutrients. I once read about an older woman who ate about two big heads of bok choy on a daily basis for many months. She did this to control her diabetes, but instead landed in the hospital with serious hypothyroidism caused by too much myrosinase enzyme.

Leafy Greens Can Be Dangerous?

Leafy greens will not harm you as long as you enjoy them in moderation. My green smoothie recipes use leafy greens in the right amount so it can't be toxic. In fact, in just seven days I eat more kale than most Americans eat in an entire year! And, I am proud to say that after many years of enjoying green smoothies my thyroid operates just fine.

Though, if you eat a pound of spinach or more than two bunches of kale every day, you could encounter some issues.

When you stick to a raw vegan diet, it is even more important that you alternate your leafy greens. The reason being that vegans typically eat more leafy greens to get enough iron and calcium.

How To Alternate Your Leafy Greens

It is not as simple as just using bok choy instead of kale as both these two are cruciferous vegetables. What you should do is alternate leafy greens that belong to different groups.

For instance, I will eat romaine lettuces and dandelion greens on a daily basis for 14 days. After two weeks, I will then enjoy kale and beet greens for a few weeks after which I will eat spinach and leaf lettuce for a couple of days.

If you want to rotate kale, greens such as beet greens, chard or lettuce that do not belong to the cruciferous family would be a good choice.

I suggest that you look at a chart that shows which leafy green belongs to which family.

How About Fruit – Should I Alternate These Too?

The chances are good that you now want to know whether you should alternate the fruit which you add to your green smoothie too.

Fruit is not really an issue. The anti-nutrients that could possibly be harmful are in the seeds which we generally just throw away.

You see you are supposed to be able to eat a fruit because that is how the plant scatters the seeds. The plant does not want to harm those who have helped it to reproduce and multiply.

Though, there are a few types of edible fruits that do in fact contain a little bit of toxic compounds. As long as you eat these in moderation, no issues will be caused over time. Cherimoya and soursop are two examples. Both have annonacin that could cause brain lesions when eaten a lot. Don't forget, obviously there are some berries and wild fruits that are extremely toxic to us.

The thing to remember is that a varied eating plan that regularly alternates between various plant-based foods should not cause any healthy issues. Though, if you do not eat a particular veggie or fruit in moderation over some time, then you can experience a nutritional imbalance and possibly even toxicity.

If you only have kale or spinach available, as long as you only eat one or two handfuls on a daily basis, you are still safe.

There are so many options. I encourage you to give everything in the produce section a try (well, at least once).

I hope you found this blog post useful.

If you did, feel free to share it with those you care about 🙂

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