Leafy green vegetables are loaded with phytonutrients, protein, vitamins, antioxidants and are an wonderful addition to your daily diet. Yet it is worth noting that all raw leafy greens carry a small amount of toxins, known as alkaloids, that protect plants from being entirely consumed by other animals and wiping out the plant species. As humans, if we consume these toxins for long periods of time, they can build up and create health issues. Some symptoms of alkaloid buildup are nausea, tingling in fingertips and fatigue. The goitrogens in kale and other brassicas has been shown to interfere with thyroid hormone function in susceptible individuals. While the oxalic acid in spinach can be problematic for people who are prone specifically to oxalate kidney stone formation.
Consuming a couple handfuls of spinach or kale every day is perfectly safe for most healthy people who do not have a pre-existing health condition that could be aggravated by these foods. It is HIGHLY unlikely that you will experience any sort of toxicity from eating larger-than-average portions of leafy greens as part of a healthy, whole foods diet.
The easiest way to ensure your green intake is abundant and healthy is to simply rotate your greens. Throughout the week, use a variety of leafy greens in your diet to ensure that your body is not relying only one source of greens and that you are taking advantage of the nutrients available in the various varieties of greens available throughout the year.
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.
You can choose from various greens including:
• Collard greens
• Bok choy
• Beet greens
• Dandelion greens
• Romaine lettuce
• Iceberg lettuce
• Baby spinach
• Tat soi
Shopping at Farmers markets is a great way to try fresh leafy greens each week that are different and seasonal! With the abundance of greens now available try mixing things up a little now that the season of summer and salads is upon us! This recipe is a great place to start:
Leafy Greens with avocado, basil and pinenuts
• 1 handful of kale, stems removed
• 1 handful of baby spinach
• 1 handful of rocket
• 1 large ripe avocado chopped into cubes
• 2 stalks of celery finely sliced
• ½ a pink grapefruit chopped
• 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice
• ½ a teaspoon of salt
• 2 tablespoons of fresh raw pinenuts
• 2 tablespoons of finely chopped basil
Chop the kale well and massage with olive oil, salt and lemon to soften and wilt slightly. Mix the massaged kale with all the remaining ingredients. Pile high in serving bowls and serve with a wedge of fresh lemon.
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