This Super-Common Mistake Can Make Your Smoothies Harmful To Your Health

Contributing Food Editor By Liz Moody
Contributing Food Editor
Liz Moody is a food editor, recipe developer and green smoothie enthusiast. She received her creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody is the author of two cookbooks: Healthier Together and Glow Pops and the host of the Healthier Together podcast.

Photo by Alie Lengyelova

I'm a firm believer that one of the easiest, most effective changes people can make to their health is swapping their morning breakfast for a green smoothie. They take less than five minutes to make, and before 10 a.m., you'll consume more vegetables than most people eat in a day. But there's one mistake I consistently see people making, and it's a big one.

You need to rotate your greens.

You shouldn't use the same greens in your smoothie every day. Basically, all plants contain small amounts of toxins to ensure their longevity—that way, when animals graze on them, they're encouraged to move onto a different pasture and type of green before one type goes extinct. These toxins aren't harmful in small amounts, but when you consume enough of them, they can cause problems. Most famously, this occurs with oxalates in spinach, which can cause kidney stones.

Typically, you wouldn't eat enough of any green to really run into a problem. But with green smoothies, you're packing a ton of greens into each serving since the blender massively compresses the vegetable. If you're consuming several cups of greens daily, you really want to rotate them to ensure you're achieving the maximum amount of health benefits—and the least amount of toxins.

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There are four types of green families.

Greens in each family are genetically quite similar to each other, so to get the best effect, rotate between families. The first type, Brassicaceae, includes kale, collards, arugula, bok choy, and mustard greens; the second, Amaranthaceae, includes spinach, chard, and beet; the third, Asteraceae, is comprised of dandelion, leaf lettuce, and romaine; and the fourth, Apiaceae, includes carrot tops and parsley.

How often do you need to rotate?

There's no need to be strict about it; once a week or so is fine. The goal is to avoid buying the same greens—say, spinach—for weeks, or even months, on end. As a bonus, using different greens forces you to be creative with flavors, resulting in more excitement for your palate. Arugula's spicy notes are played up with cayenne, cinnamon, and cacao for a Mexican hot chocolate smoothie, while parsley and lemon make for a super-fresh, spa vibe.

This is your foolproof guide to making a perfect green smoothie every single time. Plus, have you tried the smoothie supermodels are obsessed with?

And are you ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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