Getting started in the world of green smoothies? Or just looking for more ideas?
This spinach-kale green smoothie has helped me increase and maintain my daily intake of green vegetables packed with micronutrients and fiber.
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If you’re a beginner in the smoothie lifestyle, this spinach-kale smoothie recipe is a good way to start.
Here’s what I use:
- About a cup of frozen berries.
- About a cup of water – you may need to add more to prevent your blender blades from spinning in an air vacuum.
- About two cups of spinach.
- About two cups of kale.
- The juice of one lemon.
- A serving of berry-flavored greens or antioxidant powder.
You can adjust the amounts to your liking as these are suggested amounts.
I always eye-ball the quantities although I give preference to kale more than anything. I love kale and you’ll see why below.
I use a Vitamix blender. I think they’re awesome.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits you put inside every time you drink this spinach-kale smoothie.
Health Benefits of Kale
Kale is a green leafy vegetable and part of the cruciferous vegetables family.
Kale is normally called a super food as it is jam-packed with very important nutrients. Per cup, the following nutrients stand out:
|Vitamin A||10302 IU||206%|
|Vitamin C||80.4 mg||134%|
|Vitamin K||547 mcg||684%|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||121 mg||–|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||92.4 mg||–|
All of these nutrients have functions in your body that make you healthy.
The lack of any of these nutrients will cause processes in your body to break and cause symptoms.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of these nutrients.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin important for the optimal function of your immune system, vision, reproductive function, and cellular communication.
Vitamin A is a critical component for your vision as its raw material to make rhodopsin, a protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors and supports the structure of the eyes’ conjunctiva and cornea.
There are two sources of Vitamin A.
- Animal sources such as dairy, fish, and meat (liver!) provide preformed vitamin A.
- Vegetable sources provide provitamin A carotenoids that are then converted to vitamin A.
Both provitamin A and preformed vitamin A are metabolized and converted into actually active forms of vitamin A, which is what your body uses to support biological functions.
A deficiency of Vitamin A can cause night blindness, the inability to see in low light or darkness.
This deficiency could be cause to a low intake of foods rich in Vitamin A, like kale, or a problem with the digestion of fats due to gallbladder problems.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that humans can’t make internally, and therefore you have to ingested every day!
There are three very important roles of Vitamin C
- Vitamin C is necessary in the metabolism of protein, collagen for connective tissue, and certain neurotransmitters.
- Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that limits the damaging effects of free radicals in your body protecting you from the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other oxidative-stress related diseases.
- Vitamin C also improves the absorption of the form of iron present in plant-based foods.
A deficiency of Vitamin C causes scurvy, which presents symptoms of fatigue, generalized connective tissue weakness, and bleeding due to fragile capillaries.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in two forms: K1 and K2.
Vitamin K1 is most commonly found in green leafy vegetables whereas K2 is predominantly of bacterial origin and found in fear amounts in animal-based and fermented foods.
Most of the K2 is produced by your gut bacteria.
Some Vitamin K2 is produced in your body off of Vitamin K1 via a process that does not involve bacterial intervention.
Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and bone metabolism.
Lutein & Zeaxanthin
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two carotenoids (pigments) and antioxidants that are located in the eyes.
They’re found in green leafy vegetables and other animal sources such as eggs.
Lutein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light as well as help protect and maintain healthy cells in your eyes.
Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only these two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of your eye.
Calcium is most abundant mineral in your body.
Less than 1% of the calcium in your body is needed to support important metabolic function such as vascular contraction and dilation, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling, and hormonal secretion.
Blood levels of calcium are closely controlled and not affected by changes in dietary calcium.
In turn, your body takes calcium from your bones to maintain adequate concentrations of calcium your blood, muscle, and intracellular fluids.
The remaining 99% of calcium is stored in your bones and teeth.
The best form of calcium for your body comes from plant sources like kale.
In fact, cows don’t drink each others’ milk for calcium. They obtain their calcium from the pasture they eat.
Iron is an essential mineral located at the center of your hemoglobin molecules.
Iron is part of your blood’s structure and helps in the transport of oxygen through the bloodstream from your lungs to your tissues. This is how important iron is.`
Iron also supports muscle metabolism, healthy connective tissue, physical growth, neurological development, cellular functioning, and synthesis of some hormones.
Magnesium is an essential mineral and a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in your body
For instance, you should know that every single tumor suppressor enzyme in your body has magnesium as part of its molecular structure.
It would be a good idea to keep your level of magnesium high, don’t you think? I love Kale!
You can find magnesium not only in kale, but in green leafy vegetables in general since magnesium is part of the molecular structure of chlorophyll, the pigment that gives the green color to green vegetables.
The equivalent of iron in our blood is magnesium in plants chlorophyll.
Magnesium helps with the structure of bones and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and your body’s in-house antioxidant, glutathione.
Magnesium also contributes with the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.
If you take B vitamins, you should also take magnesium as they work together.
Phosphorus is an essential mineral present is every cell in your body.
Phosphorus makes up about 1% of your total body weight and is the second most abundant mineral in your body found in your bones and teeth.
Phosphorus is needed in your body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and body tissues.
As you can see, eating just protein is not enough. You also need phosphorus, among other nutrients, to use that protein.
Your body also uses phosphorus to make ATP, your body’s energy molecule.
Like magnesium, phosphorus also works with B vitamins.
Potassium is an essential mineral that’s present in all body tissues, and it’s the most abundant intracellular cation (positively charged ion).
Most of the potassium in your body resides inside the cell and its concentration is about 30 times higher (positive charge) than the concentration outside of the cell (negative charge).
Potassium works together with sodium to maintain this electro-chemical balance, which is required for proper nerve transmission, muscle contraction, and kidney function.
Sodium is an essential mineral that you body uses to control blood pressure and blood volume.
Your body also needs sodium for your muscles and nerves to work properly.
The best way to obtain sodium is through natural sources such as kale, beets, celery, sea/himalayan salt, and others. NOT table salt.
Natural sources provide not only sodium but other minerals as they work together.
This is why whole foods are important.
Too much sodium as in table salt can throw out of balance the potassium-sodium ratio. Imbalances cause health problems.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a type of essential fats for your body found in fish, nuts, flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables.
Omega-3 fats are very important for the human body because they are an integral part of cell membranes and assist in the function of cell receptors on those cell membranes.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also raw material for hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.
Likewise, omega-3 fats also bind to receptors in cells that regulate genetic function.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help prevent heart disease, strokes, control lupus, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and have protective effects against cancer and other conditions.
A very important benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is in heart health:
- Omega-3 fatty acids appear to help the heart beat at a steady clip and not veer into a dangerous or potentially fatal erratic rhythm that cause most of the 500,000-plus cardiac deaths every year in the United States.
- Omega-3 fats also lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve blood vessel function, and, when taken in high doses, lower triglycerides, and may ease inflammation, which plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 Fatty Acids are a type of fat essential for human health that needs to be ingested as the body cannot make them.
Omega-6 fatty acids play an important role in brain function and the body’s normal growth and development, stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system.
A healthy diet contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; however, the Standard American Diet (SAD) contains 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation whereas some omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation as in regional pain syndrome.
Not all omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation. For instance, linoleic acid (LA) is a type of omega-6 that is converted to gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) in the body.
GLA may reduce inflammation in your body.
When GLA is supplemented, it is converted to DGLA, which fights inflammation.
Converting GLA to DGLA requires other nutrients like magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, B3, and B6.
Remember that all nutrients work together and becoming deficient in any of them can cause health problems.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Spinach is a green leafy vegetable loaded with nutrients:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins such as thiamin (B1), folate (B9), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Minerals like manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, protein, phosphorus and copper.
Spinach helps keep cholesterol from oxidation by protecting your body from free radicals.
Spinach also maintains a healthy cardiovascular system, and due to its magnesium contribution, spinach helps lower high blood pressure.
Remember that green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach a rich in chlorophyll and magnesium is part of the molecular structure of chlorophyll.
Just as calcium helps contract muscles, magnesium helps relax muscles. They work together and both are essential.
Low magnesium levels could lead to muscle cramps, and the last place you want a cramp to occur is in your heart.
One last benefit, spinach helps maintains a healthy brain function, memory, and metal clarity.
Health Benefits of Berries
Fresh Berries are very high in antioxidants, which protect your cells and DNA from oxidative damage.
These high levels of antioxidants also help lower inflammatory markers.
Berries also improve blood sugar and insulin levels as well as increase your insulin sensitivity.
Berries provide you with other essential nutrients like vitamin C, K1, and folate (B9) as well as minerals like manganese and copper.
Oxidized cholesterol is not good. Berries have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and help protect it from oxidation.
Health Benefits of Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is loaded with Vitamin C, which is a strong antioxidant.
Kale and spinach are high in oxalates. Oxalates bind to calcium during digestion and leave the body in stool.
8 out 10 kidney stones are calcium oxalate stones.
Lemons can act as the antidote to the oxalates found in spinach and kale as lemons help prevent kidney stones.
The citric acid in lemon juice increases urine volume and pH, which in turn creates a less favorable environment for the formation of kidney stones.
Lemons also help in the absorption of the iron coming from spinach and kale.
Health Benefits of Super Greens Powders
Super Greens Powders are made by dehydrating the raw ingredients and then crushing them into powder form.
Green powders allow you to ingest a concentrated amount of vegetables, algae, mushrooms, fruits, sprouts, etc. in one serving without the fiber although some manufacturers add fiber.
Green powders give a more complete nutritional micronutrient profile to your green shake.
Here’s an example of the contents of It Works! Super Greens – Berry Flavor that I like to put in my berry-spinach-kale smoothie.
Other powders, not necessarily green, have an excellent nutritional load focused on antioxidants and will also enhance the nutritional value of your smoothie.
And here’s another example of the ingredients found on the other berry-flavored nutritional powder that I like, the It Works! Super Reds Jar.
Now, once you have all these ingredients together, a good blender will give you a nice smooth consistency to your drink.
What Blender Should You Use?
You can use any blender; however, my recommendation is Vitamix.
I use a Vitamix for my smoothies.
Green smoothies are packed with essential nutrients and fiber.
Essential nutrients are “essential” because your body needs them to be healthy but can’t make them itself.
Therefore, you need to ingest those essential nutrients every day!
Fiber helps your digestion and elimination to get waste out of your body promptly.
- When waste accumulates in your colon and it doesn’t come out, your body reabsorbs it.
- You want it out of your system ASAP.
Fiber also feeds your gut bacteria.
Different fibers from different plants feed different types of bacteria.
It is very important to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits to obtain fiber from different sources to feed different types of gut bacteria.
My spinach-kale smoothie provides fiber from:
- Black berries
You can add other fruits and vegetables of your preference. Nuts are good too. Be creative!
After I drink a smoothie, I usually eat a protein and fatty food like a grass-fed steak or a burger.
The combination of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and fat will keep you satiated for a while.
I hope you enjoyed this post!
What’s your favorite green smoothie?
What would you add or eliminate from this recipe?
Let me know in the comments below.