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Green, leafy vegetables - what are they?

We hear a lot about ensuring we eat our green, leafy vegetables. What are they and why do we need them?

They are otherwise known as above ground, non-starchy vegetables and they are the best for providing us with a lot of the nutrients our bodies need, and importantly keeping our body in an alkaline state, which is important for our long term kidney health. The only part of our body that should be acidic is our stomach. The rest should be alkaline.

The nutrients provided for in our green, leafy vegetables are Vitamins A, C, K, B's (including our much needed folate), and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, as well as antioxidants, and dietary fibre.

Folate enters our biochemical pathways best in the fresh form and not as a supplement. The folate pathway then kicks off the methionine pathway, with the first handshake being a need for active Vitamin B12. After many biochemical pathway processes we ultimately end of with Glutathione (our body's most powerful antioxidant), and our neurotransmitters that keep our moods nice and balanced and happy, and ensuring we get enough melatonin for good sleep. That's a lot of responsibility for our leafy, green vegetables and hence why they should be included in the majority of our meals!

A variety of green, leafy vegetables is needed

Adding fresh herbs to your meals is a flavoursome way to add to your vegetable count each day and increase your vitamins and minerals to satisfy your body's needs. Examples include coriander, mint, curry leaves, parsley, dill, chives, basil, nettle etc.

Greens on the side of your plate can include examples like beet greens, collard greens, watercress, all different types of lettuce etc. We should try and incorporate 30 DIFFERENT types of vegetables in our diet each week. Do you? Including the herbs and the greens on the side can help ensure it's easier than we think.

Specific Green, leafy vegetables

Understanding a little more about individual green, leafy vegetables, we can highlight some specific examples:


One of the most nutrient dense providing our days requirements of Vitamins A, K, C in 1 cup. Contains antioxidants lutein, and beta-carotene.


Are immature leaves from the seeds of vegetables and herbs. Not just useful as a garnish, but full of Vitamins C, E, K and likely in higher concentrations than the mature plant.

Collard greens

Are loose leaf greens with thick leaves and a bitter taste. Great source of calcium, Vitamins A, C, K and Folate.


Great source of Vitamin K, A, Folate and Manganese


Belong to the Brassica family which is so helpful for liver detoxification and support. Others members include Kale, Broccoli, and Brussel Sprouts.

Beet Greens

Rich in potassium, calcium, Vitamins A, B2, and K along with antioxidants lutein and beta-carotene.

Romaine Lettuce

Great source of Vitamins A and K


Has a slightly peppery taste, and is full of folate and Vitamin K


Full of Vitamins A, K and Folate

Bok Choy

Has Selenium in it which is important helping us obtain Glutathione (our body's major antioxidant), and helpful for thyroid function, cognitive function and immunity.

Turnip greens

A member of the cruciferous vegetables that are important for reducing inflammation. Packed full of calcium, manganese, Vitamins A, C, K and Folate and many antioxidants.

Picture of 48 different green, leafy vegetables for adding to meals
It's easy to incorporate green, leafy vegetables in your diet

Important to Note on Cooking:

Green, leafy vegetables should NOT be cooked to ensure you obtain nutrients from them. Cooking destroys the vitamins and minerals.

Additional Note on Oxalates:

It's important not to overdo one particular source of green, leafy vegetable. Like all things in life, balance is key. Too much of any particular green, leafy vegetable can also pose health issues in some people, like oxalates that can cause intense, unexplained pain in the body. See my blog on Oxalates.

If you would like to understand more why an alkaline diet is important for your kidney health, and how to ensure you balance your diet to avoid issues for your own personal needs, please feel free to book an appointment.

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