Leafy greens offer many health benefits, from immune support and cancer prevention to cardiovascular and bone health. They are rich in antioxidants and other vital nutrients, which is why they are the central ingredient in healthy green smoothies. In order to gain the full health benefits, you gotta mix it up, however.
Variety is the spice of life, they say, and this is true even when it comes to the leafy greens you put in your smoothies. Now I know we all praise the almighty kale for all its wonderful health benefits, but life is more than kale and there are lots of wonderful, nutritious leafy greens out there that want to be (and should be) included in your diet. So mix things up to keep a well-balanced green smoothie diet.
How to Rotate Your Greens In Your Smoothies
To get a nice balance of nutrients and variety in your greens, choose leafy greens from different plant families to rotate into your green smoothies. You don’t need to rotate every day (although you can to keep things interesting), but rotate your greens every week or so. For example, you might use kale one week, and then switch out and use beet greens or spinach the next.
What are the Different Plant Families?
Amaranthaceae/Chenopodiaceae: This is the Aramanth family. Includes: Beets, spinach and chard
Apiaceae: This is the Parsley and Carrot family. Includes: Parsley, celery, cilantro, dill and fennel
Asteraceae: This is the Aster or Daisy family. Includes: Romaine and leaf lettuce, dandelion and endive
Brassicaceae/Cruciferae: This is the Cruciferous family. Includes kale, cabbage, turnips, arugla, collards, bok choy, broccoli, radish greens and mustard greens
Why is it Important to Rotate My Greens?
First, different greens offer different nutrients and some greens are more nutritious than others. As you consume a variety of leafy greens, your body receives a more balanced intake of essential vitamins and minerals. For example, spinach is rich in calcium and protein, however kale and dandelion greens have an even higher concentration of these minerals. Spinach is higher in iron and folate. Rotating them and other greens into your smoothies will provide and more balanced vitamin and mineral intake.
Second, too much of a single green creates the potential for an overdose of anti-nutrients.
Wait? What?? I can overdose on greens? Well, no, not exactly, but there is a very slight risk involved with TOO much.
Leafy green plants have a built in defensive mechanism to protect the plant. They contain a small amount of toxins to keep critters from destroying them through overconsumption. For example, cruciferous vegetables contain small amounts of goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid function in those who have a compromised thyroid. Beet greens and Spinach contains small amounts of Oxalic acid which can interfere with calcium absorption, but not enough to cause harm. Rhubarb leaves contain a high quantity of this acid which is why the leaves are not edible.
Eating standard servings of leafy greens is not going to cause harm. Throw a few handfuls of kale, beet greens or spinach into your daily smoothies and you’re doing wonders to improve your health. Even if you go overboard and eat large portions of leafy greens, you are highly unlikely to have ill effects when eaten as part of a healthy whole foods diet.
The risk comes if you have a medical condition that may be affected by these compounds, overdoing those particular leafy greens. If you go way overboard with your greens and start blending and consuming insanely large quantities (like a pound of spinach or 2-3 heads of bok choy a day), you also create a risk for yourself.
Mix things up and stick to a few handfuls of leafy greens in your daily smoothie and you’ll receive all the benefits of these wonderful foods.
Is it Necessary to Rotate Fruit in My Green Smoothie?
Whenever the conversation about rotating greens comes up, inevitably people start to wonder if they need to rotate their fruit for the same reason. The short answer is that it is not as important to rotate fruit, however doing so will add variety in both flavor and vitamins and minerals.
Unlike leafy greens, fruiting plants benefit from being eaten as this helps with propagation. When animals eat the fruit, they disperse the seeds, helping the species survive. Yes, there are some fruits that are toxic to humans, but you aren’t going to find them in your grocery store. Also, the seeds of some fruits are toxic, but we generally do not eat those anyhow.
The main consideration is to build variety into your diet to ensure that you get a well-balance and satisfying green smoothie experience!
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