9 of the Healthiest Leafy Greens List Plus 6 Unusual Ways to Eat Them
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April is what we call a transition month where the list of leafy greens is in full swing at the beginning of the month and quickly heads out towards the end when the big summer crops come in.
If you are used to eating seasonally here in Texas, you know the “seasons” are pretty long and it can be a little overwhelming towards the end…
How you can possibly eat any more leafy greens?
You can use this leafy greens list as a reminder of how good they are for you or if you’re new to eating leafy greens…you can find out how to incorporate more into your diet.
We’ve been growing this leafy greens list for quite a few years now and just love their taste and health benefits!
How Many Servings of Leafy Greens Do I Need a Day?
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a well-known whole food plant-based cardiologist, suggests 6 servings a day (3). This really is only about 3 cups so not too terribly bad.
I am a big believer in eating seasonally which means that I only eat greens when they’re available on the farm. In Texas, they grow in the cooler months of late fall, winter, and early spring. In northern regions, you may find them growing only in the summer and not in the winter. I may get more benefits from them during the latter part of the year rather than throughout the year, but that’s when my body needs those benefits the most. (You can read more about this here.)
Can You Eat Too Many Leafy Greens?
Too much of anything is too much, even if it’s a good thing.
You can overdo it on the vegetable sides but we’re talking it would have to be the ONLY thing you eat ALL THE TIME.
Let’s be honest…this is probably something people are not doing. In fact, the bigger concern is that we’re not getting enough leafy greens in our diet! So bumping it up a notch is not going to hurt you.
Should leafy greens be eaten raw or cooked?
Your diet should consist of a little of both. Most vegetables are best when raw but certain chemicals are activated when cooked that can help with inflammation, cancer-fighting, or nutrient absorption.
With the leafy greens list below, they can all be eaten raw or cooked. Try them both ways and see what your preference is.
The List of the Leafy Greens (that we grow) in Order of Healthiest:
Healthline.com actually claims that spinach is the healthiest vegetable in the world (1)! One cup offers more than half your daily requirement of Vitamin A, all your daily Vitamin K needs, 2 antioxidants that decrease inflammation and protect against cancer, decrease blood pressure and artery stiffening, and so much more (2).
I would say it’s pretty easy to get 1 cup of spinach a day. Smoothies are an excellent way to increase this volume.
2. Bok Choy
Bok Choy is loaded with iron, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, zinc, and Vitamin K, which all attribute to bone health (10). Though it can be eaten raw, bok choy is best cooked and is a great leafy green to use in all your Asian dishes.
3. Broccoli Leaves
Another very highly rated vegetable, broccoli leaves provide all of your daily requirements of Vitamin C and is an excellent source of fiber, beta carotene, calcium, iron, and the list goes on (5). Check out this vegan recipe I made using broccoli greens. It was delicious!
This vegetable is also ranking close to spinach with one cup having all your daily requirements of Vitamin A, K, and C. It’s also a good source of copper which your body uses to make energy, maintains the nervous system, and activates genes (6).
5. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a beautiful leafy green that sometimes stumps people on what to do with it. I wrote a whole article about the basics of Swiss chard. You can check it out here and get a few recipes to go along with it.
Collard greens are one of the best sources of calcium out there (7). I love when people ask how we get calcium if we don’t drink cow’s milk…look at all these veggies that have your daily recommended value!
7. Mustard Greens
Crimson Tide is our variety of choice for mustard greens. It is a fan favorite amongst our customers and especially with one of our partner restaurants, Blue Corn Harvest. This is a unique green in that it’s actually purple. Purple vegetables provide anthocyanins which help with brain health, fight inflammation, and heart disease (8).
Romaine doesn’t get much attention as a powerhouse food. We really only ever see it chopped up, missing half of its leaves, as caesar salads in restaurants. It is actually quite a large head of lettuce and provides a lot more than just the hearts that we see in salads. Romaine is high in magnesium and betacarotene. Betacarotene converts Vitamin A in the body to a more usable form (9).
9. Salad Mix
We LOVE our salad mix. It’s a mix of red and green butter leaves, red and green romaine, and speckled lettuce. This mix provides all sorts of different nutrients due to the fact that it’s a mix! We use it often in replace of any type of lettuce like if we’re going to eat a bean burger or a taco, we throw this on instead of your so-called “lettuce.”
Vegetables That You Would Never Think Their Leaves Are Edible
You can add these guys to your list as bonus leafy greens. It’s amazing to see this all on the table when they’re in season because the WHOLE thing is edible! There should be no wasting of these vegetables!
- Green Bean (4)
6 Ways to Eat Leafy Greens When You Just Can’t Eat One More Salad
Sometimes our tried and true recipes work the best for us! But other times, especially eating seasonally, they can get a little boring. Try these unusual ways of eating your leafy greens to change it up a bit.
Use romaine in this Southwestern Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl
Eat Salad as a pizza
Instead of pizza sauce, use your favorite salad dressing. I love this caesar salad dressing to make a caesar type pizza. It’s very hearty and easy to spread as a sauce. You can also just make your own favorite pizza and add the salad mix to it.
Make a classic hummus dip and then blend any of the greens in.
Make a homemade greens powder for an extra nutrient boost. You can add this to anything you’re making from smoothies to sauces to salads. Have your greens year-round with this greens powder.
Ferment your leafy greens.
You can ferment any vegetable. I especially love fermented foods during the summer. The Texas summer heat can be brutal and the fermented veggies are nice and refreshing. Plus, you get all the benefits of the greens during the summer when they’re not available.
Add your greens to mashed potatoes:
This Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes recipe is amazingly easy to make. If you don’t have kale, you can substitute collards, swiss chard, bok choy, pretty much any other green.
It can be hard this time of year to keep eating the leafy greens. Trying these new ways of eating can help you keep up your stamina. Remember, when eating seasonally, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. The seasons will change soon enough and you’ll be into the bigger summer vegetables until you get too much of those and are ready for the leafy greens again!
I would love to hear what other interesting ways you’ve found to eat leafy greens. Comment below and let me know!