Shavonne Morrison, MS, RD, LD, breaks down the several types of leafy greens and their well being advantages. Plus: inventive methods so as to add extra darkish leafy greens to your food plan.

I’m positive you’ve heard that it’s essential to eat your greens—however what precisely are the advantages?

In this put up, we’ll check out these scrumptious diet powerhouses that may assist maintain you wholesome. Later, I’ll share inventive ideas so as to add extra leafy greens to your food plan, too.

First, What are leafy greens?

When you consider leafy greens, you may consider the essential basis you’d discover in a salad: suppose crisp iceberg lettuce, spinach, or maybe arugula. There are many several types of leafy greens, however they often confer with the harvested leaves of a plant.

Across all varieties, leafy greens present what some name “roughage,” which is one other means of claiming they add fiber to your food plan. They’re additionally wealthy in nutritional vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These vitamins are key to optimally perform your physique’s required day by day features, in addition to promote total long-term well being.

varieties of leafy greens

This isn’t an exhaustive record of leafy greens, however fairly a fast information that can assist you differentiate a number of varieties of greens from a diet standpoint.


  • mild or white in coloration
  • gentle in taste
  • excessive water content material
  • examples: romaine, cabbage, bok choy

Lettuces are typically much less nutrient-dense than their counterparts, however most individuals discover them extra palatable. They’re sometimes extra inexpensive as effectively, and nonetheless pack essential vitamins comparable to fiber and water.

Dark Leafy Greens

  • medium to darkish inexperienced in coloration
  • excessive nutrient content material
  • examples: kale, chard, collard greens, spinach

Dark leafy greens are richer in vitamins in comparison with lettuce. In explicit, chlorophyll provides them a deeper inexperienced coloration, as effectively.

Woman mixing a salad with lettuce and dark leafy greens

Health Benefits of Dark Leafy Greens

Now let’s get into the specifics. Below are a number of varieties of darkish leafy greens and the well being advantages they provide.


Now a basic, kale was as soon as used to embellish elaborate salad bars due to its sturdiness and vibrant inexperienced coloration. Many folks take pleasure in it uncooked, massaged, roasted, or in soups.

Like all greens, kale is a good supply of fiber. It’s additionally excessive in calcium and vitamin A. Calcium helps wholesome bones, whereas vitamin A is essential for eye and pores and skin well being.

Swiss Chard

Chard (aka Swiss chard) incorporates vitamin C, which helps immune well being. It additionally has iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. These vitamins are essential to take care of good power ranges all through the day, in addition to optimum muscle perform.

Tip: Since plant-based iron isn’t absorbed in addition to iron present in animal meals, pair it with high-vitamin C meals to extend absorption.


Peppery in taste, somewhat goes an extended in terms of this darkish leafy inexperienced (aka rocket).

A 2019 research states the phytochemicals present in arugula have demonstrated advantages for supporting coronary heart well being and sustaining longevity.


Spinach is without doubt one of the most generally recognized darkish leafy greens—and most of the people both like it or hate it. Either means, it’s gentle in taste, versatile, and sometimes simple to search out.

Spinach is an efficient supply of iron, magnesium, calcium, and folate. It additionally has some antioxidant results, which suggests it might play a job in supporting long-term well being.

Collard Greens

Collard greens are very talked-about within the southern area of the United States, the place they’re sometimes steamed or boiled with varied sorts of seasonings. They’re additionally nice to make use of as wraps or in chopped salads.

They comprise nutritional vitamins A, C, and B6. They’re additionally an important supply of fiber.

Packing a green smoothie with dark leafy greens and fruit

How to Get More Greens in Your Diet

The USDA recommends that adults purpose for at the very least two cups of leafy greens every day.

Here are a number of inventive methods so as to add extra greens to your food plan so you possibly can simply reap their advantages.

  • Add new greens to your smoothie. Instead of the standard spinach or kale, attempt including chard or bok choy as an alternative. (Depending on the flavour you’re going for, you may need to go away strongly flavored greens, like peppery arugula, out of your smoothie.)
  • Blend greens into pasta sauce. This tip is an efficient solution to “hide” darkish leafy greens for those who’re seeking to eat veggies in stealth mode. Otherwise, many individuals take pleasure in spinach sautéed and added into their pasta dishes as effectively. Note: It’s greatest to sauté the spinach first, discard the water that leaks out, and set it apart earlier than including it again in to make the ultimate product. This means, you gained’t water down your pasta sauce.
  • Use massive, flat leafy greens as wraps. This technique is a tasty, simple solution to get extra greens in your food plan. If you’re attempting to cut back your carb consumption, lettuce wraps stand in as an important alternative for tortillas.

Final Thoughts

Leafy greens are one of many many varieties of greens which can be essential to incorporate in your food plan. They’re distinctive in that they will add bulk to meals, serving to you are feeling full for longer. Plus, they provide a wide range of nutritional vitamins, minerals, and phytonutients that may assist keep good well being and promote longevity.

Luckily, there are various inventive methods to incorporate greens in your food plan. With so many choices to select from, there’s certain to be an choice that you just’ll love.

Lastly, for those who’ve tried a leafy inexperienced that you just don’t take pleasure in, attempt making ready it another way. You could be stunned to search out that completely different preparation strategies can positively alter the flavour.

However you incorporate these veggies into your food plan, be sure that to prioritize selection and benefit from the meals you’re consuming. Doing so will make consuming your greens that rather more pleasurable and sustainable in your way of life.