I love the grocery store that is near the facility in San Jose where I teach Nia on Tuesdays. Right after Nia class I can easily stop by because it is literally on the way home. It seems so new because it is fresh and clean! They have a very large produce department. Today I purchased some dandelions greens. Yeah, I bought a weed. You might know that I have mentioned that different plants fall into different botanical families and how we might think of it as a vegetable but it is really a fruit according to the world of botany. I have shared how I cannot keep track of that. Well, I am going to have to start at least when it comes to greens. Apparently when you eat a lot of greens over an extended period of time you risk eat high level of toxin. It is important to rotate the family of greens.
The science behind it is that plants, what we call greens have a survival mechanism where they contain small levels of toxins. These toxins are contained in the plant in order to keep the entire crop from being depleted. The toxins build up in the body and cause reactions. So that keeps them from being eating in large quantities. The toxins are specific to a family of greens. Here are some families and the vegetables/greens that belong to them:
Plant Family: Brassicaceae/Cruciferae (cruciferous vegetables) – kale, collards, arugula, cabbage, bok choy, radish greens, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, turnip root greens, rutabaga, arugula, daikon
Plant Family: Amaranthaceae/ Chenopodiacea Family (beet family) – beet greens, beet root, spinach, chard, beets
Plant Family: Asteraceae – Romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, leaf lettuce, escarole
Plant Family: Apiaceae (carrot family) – carrots, parsley, cilantro, anise, celery, chervil, cumin, dill, fennel, parsnip,
Plant Family: Poaceae – wheatgrass
I’ve been mixing a bitter green, such as kale, with a mild green, such as baby bok choy or spinach. Now according to the families it’s ok to mix the kale with the baby bok choy, but if I want to rotate my greens by doing it between the different families then I shouldn’t mix kale and spinach. For me I think rotating between different families and keeping them separate will be easier than try to track two families then switch to another, but we will see. I love spinach and baby bok choy so I think it would be better for me to keep them separate so that I can have one or the other more often.
I have yet to try lettuce in a smoothie. As I mentioned, I just bought my dandelion greens and I have not used them because I have a large amount of spinach I want to try to make a dent in first. I did read they are bitter so, maybe this will be an opportunity for me to try lettuce in a smoothie. I feel that mixing a bitter green with a mild green cuts the bitter so that is what I have been doing. The information I have seen said that spinach is mild and that is what people start with so I was using that as my “mixer”. But now I will try to use something from the same family in order to keep with my plan of rotating between families.
I don’t know that I am really so concerned about these toxins building up to unsafe levels because I think I do a good job of switching, but this type of information gives me an extra push to really work to get the variety of greens in my smoothies. I mean aside from wanting to have more greens I do think of my smoothies as a way to get nutrients from greens that I would not normally eat. As an example, I eat spinach all the time so it is good to for me to “have” to branch out with some of these other greens. A good variety of fruits and vegetables is how we get the most nutrients out of our food.
Also, having this information is good because if you do start feeling ill/off you could look to this information to see if you are consuming too much of one thing and it may be the cause.
Do you rotate your greens? How do you do it?