The superstars of green smoothies are the leafy greens – since they are absolutely LOADED with phytonutrients, protein, vitamins, antioxidants… and the list goes on, and on, and on. But there’s also something we feel is very important for you to know about when drinking green smoothies, before you continue to throw your *favorite* greens into your high powered or regular blender… especially if you’re drinking them daily – it’s called…
“ALKALOID BUILDUP”. Yup, leafy green veggies contain small quantities of alkaloids as well as other phytotoxins like oxalates, goitrogens, arsenic, and opium as a way to “warn” the unwelcome grazers in the fields to move on to another plant family before eating it all up.
By eating the same type of green all the time, these alkaloids can build up in the body, leading to negative side effects such as nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, depression, or anxiety. Sure sounds like a scare tactic to us, doesn’t it? The truth is, alkaloids ARE poisonous in large quantities, in small quantities they will not hurt us, and even strengthen our immune systems.
As humans, consuming these toxins for long periods of time can build up and harm our thyroid… but don’t go dumping your green smoothie down the sink! You should just be aware about this and that it isn’t anything to be too concerned about – as long as you ♥ ROTATE YOUR GREENS! ♥
Throughout the week, make sure to use a variety of leafy greens in your green smoothies– such as kale, spinach, romaine, herbs and carrot tops. Try not to sweat rotating your greens too much. Your body, or maybe your little one, is smart enough to tell you when it’s time to switch things up – or when things are getting booooring.
How often should you rotate your greens?
There are a number of leafy greens families. The leafy greens in each family have similar “DNA,” each including their own minor level of toxins. By rotating family types of leafy greens you’re not only preventing a toxic build-up, you are also feeding your body a variety of nutrients that you’d otherwise be missing out on! You can rotate your greens however it’s convenient.
Some people use a different type of green each day, while others put a variety of greens in each green smoothie. We recommend a minimum of 2 types of greens from different families rotated throughout the week. The following week rotate to 2 other types of greens from a different family than the previous week.
To help keep you mixing things up in your green smoothies, we made a list of our favorite greens, separating them into family groups to help you easily rotate. 🙂
Spinach: Spinach is a staple ingredient in green smoothies, and a great starter green as well, since it’s mild in taste and full of nutrients.
The list of health benefits is nearly equal to the amount of nutrients it provides, including fighting cancer, lowering blood pressure, strengthening bones, cardiovascular health, brain boosting, smoothing skin, improving vision, reducing inflammation, increasing energy…and more.
Beet Greens: Beet greens contain a wide assortment of nutrients, most known for being a good source of tryptophan, the guilty party for needing a nap after Thanksgiving turkey! If you’re tired or having sleeping troubles, add some tryptophan to your diet and try our Bet You Never Thought You’d Eat Your Beet Greens Smoothie!
Chard: Chard is a must to include in your diet if you battle diabetes or struggle with your blood sugar levels, since it helps regulate the body’s sugar system. Try adding it to your morning green smoothie to get your day started off right.
Kale: Much like spinach, kale is mild in taste and a powerhouse of nutrients. Rich in vitamin C, kale can help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol while also providing potassium to the body, which can help lower blood pressure. Kale also contains bioflavanoids, which help fight cancer, and calcium and magnesium help promote bone health.
Also, a bonus from including kale in your green smoothies is that it aids in weight loss…it’s super filling and high nutritious, the best of both worlds if you ask us!
Arugula: Arugula is very similar to kale as far as nutritional content is concerned. It contains a large amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as many other nutrients, and is also a cancer fighting green.
So similar to kale, they’re pretty much interchangeable so it’s easy to switch between the two, or just include them both!
Collard Greens: A perfect way to consume collard greens is by adding them raw to your green smoothies, since most of its nutrients are lost when cooked. You won’t want to miss these nutrients, since they help fight cancer and also help with digestion since they contain good amounts of fiber.
Cabbage: This leafy green is associated with numerous health benefits and are very low in calories. Among many of its benefits, cabbage helps prevent colon cancer, breast cancer, and cancers of the female reproductive system.
It also helps protect against and manage diabetes, and can help you lose weight. It has a slight sweetness which is perfect for your yummy green smoothies…but cabbage eaters beware…it can cause bloating and flatulence, so you might want to hold off on beach days or date nights!
Bok Choy: Also known as “Chinese cabbage,” bok choy is similar in nutritional status with other members of its family as well as low in calories, which can help keep you slim. The best time to buy is during the winter months while it is dark in color and the stalks are firm.
Dandelion Greens: Include these greens if you want calcium from a dairy-free source. Dandelion greens contain almost as much calcium as a glass of milk, but will give you even more nutrients as well!
The taste could be a little bitter, but that’s nothing a banana can’t fix!
Romaine Lettuce: If you want to keep your heart healthy, make sure you’re rotating romaine lettuce into your green smoothie routine. It contains vitamin C and beta-carotene, which help prevent build up on artery walls and help lower cholesterol.
It’s also low in calories which can help keep you feeling full, and therefore can help you lose weight!
Celery: Super low in calories, celery is about 95 percent water by weight, making it a favorite among dieters. They also provide some vitamin c and folate, and a good amount of fiber, making you feel full. The taste can be a bit overpowering, so add conservatively to your smoothies.
Cilantro: A fast and easy ingredient to add to your green smoothies is cilantro. It’s good for both lowering cholesterol and blood sugar, may have anti-anxiety effects, and can help you sleep better!
Carrot Tops: Don’t throw away those carrot tops! Instead, add them to your smoothies. They’re packed with chlorophyll, which as been shown to act as a cleansing agent and fight tumor growth. Carrot tops also contain many other vitamins and nutrients, including potassium. Cancel out their bitter taste with a banana or two and you won’t even know they’re in there.
Parsley: More than just a garnish, parsley is a great source of folic acid, this is a great herb to toss into your smoothie. It also has detoxing effects, which is why for “extra” cleansing Kimberly Snyder recommends this addition to her Glowing Green Smoothie recipe. It’s also an excellent source of Vitamin C, anti-oxidant beta-carotene and flavonoids.
It’s easy, fun, and good for you to rotate your greens, and keeps things fresh and interesting! By rotating your leafy green veggies, you’re gaining access to many different types of nutrients that each raw green has to offer, while at the same time you’re preventing alkaloid build-up. When you rotate, keep in mind to go from family to family.
You might have to experiment with several different greens from each family to get a taste of what you like, and which ones have the best benefits for you personally, but the benefits are so worth it!