Your Guide to Leafy Greens

This handy guide to leafy greens will help you up your daily intake. And no, you won’t have to commit.


Top 10 Leafy Greens

Make sure you’re getting at least a few servings of each, weekly. The more, the better!

1. Kale

This nutrition powerhouse is everything you want in a leafy green. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and bone-boosting K, folate, and potassium. Plus, a normal serving of kale packs more calcium than a glass of milk.

2. Collards

Collards are similar in nutrition to kale, but they have a heartier and chewier texture and a stronger cabbage-like taste. And recent research shows this staple of Southern cuisine may be even better at lowering cholesterol than broccoli and spinach. I love using collard leaves to make wraps. The wide leaves are a perfect swap for tortillas.

Your Guide to Leafy Greens

3. Turnip Greens

More tender than other greens, turnip greens are sharp-flavored and loaded with vitamins A, C, and K and calcium. Just one cup of turnip greens provides 20% of your daily requirement for vitamin B6.

4. Swiss Chard

Look out for eye-popping red, yellow, orange, or white stalks — a sure sign of freshness. Swiss chard has a beet-like taste and soft texture, and since it weighs in at only 15 calories per ½ cup, eat up! It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and C and delivers more than 20% of your daily requirements for iron.

5. Spinach

Popeye was onto something… Weighing in at only 20 calories per serving, spinach is packed with vitamins A and C and folate. Spinach is also rich in iron, which helps transport blood around the body to keep muscles working efficiently. As with Swiss chard, mild heat (keep it below 104 degrees) reduces spinach’s oxalate content, allowing its calcium to be more easily absorbed and used by the body. In fact, just the mild heat generated from juicing and blending these greens into juices and smoothies are great options if you need to boost your calcium intake or if you are prone to kidney stones. Remember that cooking above 104 degrees destroys valuable enzymes and much of the food’s nutrient profile.

6. Mustard Greens

Mustard greens have a similar nutrition profile to turnip greens and collards. They have a peppery taste, but their spiciness can be toned down by adding an acid, like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.

Your Guide to Leafy Greens

7. Bok Choy

Also known as Chinese cabbage or pak choi, bok choy is a mild, slightly sweet cousin of cabbage that is a super source of calcium because it’s low in oxalate — that compound we talked about with Swiss chard and spinach that can block absorption of the mineral. Bok Choy also has 25 kinds of cancer-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols.

8. Watercress

With its variety of uses and subtle peppery flavor, watercress packs a healthy punch of vision-protecting carotenoids and compounds that may inhibit the growth of breast cancer tumors. It is also a major source of Vitamins A, C, and K, B-complex vitamins, manganese, and calcium.

9. Arugula

A powerful aphrodisiac in Ancient Rome, arugula will definitely add some zest to your salads, pizzas, and pasta dishes. Arugula is loaded with detoxifying enzymes and is high in fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese — all of which are vital for your body, from brain and liver functioning to skin health.

10. Escarole

A variety of endive, escarole boasts a crisp texture and robust flavor. Its inner leaves are sweet, while the outer, mature leaves deliver quite a kick to the taste buds. At just 8 calories per uncooked cup, this nutrition superstar supplies fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, B-complex vitamins (which help boost your metabolism), manganese (which regulates blood sugar, metabolizes carbohydrates, and absorbs calcium), helps with vision, and is even being shown to inhibit the growth of certain cancerous cells.

Next up… how to store your leafies to get maximum longevity and benefit:

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Avatar of Marina Gafanovich

Dr Marina Gafanovich attended one of the most prominent medical schools around the world, Sackler School of Medicine. She went on to practice as a Primary Care Physician and is now the founder and primary consultant at RejuveNYC, the renowned New York City skin rejuvenation centre.

Reader Discussion: 58 Comments

  1. Avatar of Natasha Barnes

    Spinach! Popeye the sailor man is my hero when I was a kid. But never liked the green stuff back then, Now all grown up i can say it tastes good and healthy too. that cartoon really knows its greens.

  2. Avatar of MICHELLE

    KALE!!! It’s the best tasting superfood green leafy I have ever tasted… and of course, the magical spinach that no matter how much you put on a dish will magically disappear!

    • Avatar of Robin Collins

      Robin Collins

      popeye really know what the good stuff is right? spinach that delicious leaf with so many nutrients. i just need the forearms to grow now please hahaha

  3. Avatar of KZ Evans

    KZ Evans

    great guide, been eating most of the listed greens just cause I don’t eat most vine veggies. kale and spinach are my faves right now. really great with my post workout meal.

  4. Avatar of Emma Clark

    Thank you so much for sharing information about leafy greens. Leafy greens have so many benefits for our health. Keep sharing what you know.

  5. Avatar of Tiffany Watts

    Good read, nice article on the benefits of the healthy greens. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Avatar of Lena Dzeko

    Lena Dzeko

    Thanks for the post. I grow most of the above, but have never tried eating the turnip greens. Will try them as they are already growing in my garden. My sister is a big fan (we live together). She always goes on about how good they are, but for no reason at all I’ve been very prejudging about it. I know, I must try it!!

  7. Avatar of Jae Medina

    Jae Medina

    Good article. Thanks for sharing. Simply love all of these. Dr Marina Gafanovich did a great job laying out the infographic, clean and easy to read. Keeping this one handy. I can honestly say that I’ve learnt a lot from this. Thank you again!

  8. Avatar of Sonja Fallow

    Sonja Fallow

    Very informative. Thank you. Love, love turnip greens and grow them every year, as well as a wide variety of heritage romaines. I’ve been lazy with the others, so will have to try a few new recipes when I get to the farmers’ market again.

  9. Avatar of Christina Norelli

    Christina Norelli

    Love them all. We are growing collard greens and kale in our garden this summer. We have also been harvesting dandelion greens which are supposed to be packed with nutrients. As my Daughter remarked some years ago, “Let’s throw out the beets and eat the leaves.” 🙂

  10. Avatar of Elin Hanks

    Elin Hanks

    I see a lot of posts like this on other sites but without references to the scientific literature that supports these claims, it is pretty much worthless. Seeing this is from a doctor, I’ve found all the information here very comforting. Thank you.

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