Why You Need a Variety of Greens in Your Life

Ordering and making your own salads can seem repetitive when what you really want is a bowl of pasta, or a pepperoni pizza. It's also totally understandable if you're bored of your regular romaine, your simple spinach, or your indistinguishable iceberg lettuce.  There's so much more out there in the world of greens in terms of nutrient content as well as flavor and texture profile.  The list of reasons why you need a variety of greens in your life does not consist solely of their health benefits.  Whether you're a salad person or not, there's still tons of different uses for greens.  You'd be surprised how much you and your tastebuds can benefit by adding a variety of greens, along with other colors, to your plate;  Healthy lifestyles include all the colors of the rainbow after all! 

Note: As you're reading, you may be interested in some of the words that are in bold font. They're recipes as well as links for more information; click on them to learn more!


Foodies, I present to you my personal favorite leaf.  Its unique peppery flavor, as well as its spinach-esque crispness, goes above and beyond for your tastebuds and your physical health.  Aside from flavor profile, what sets this green apart from others is its herbal essence; it acts similarly to parsley, in that it makes a lovely edible garnishing addition to numerous dishes from culture to culture.  I admit that I am biased to this green in particular, but allow me to back up my predisposing views with the facts.  With everything going on in the world right now, blood pressures are soaring;  Calcium and potassium are known to combat hypertension, and this little leaf contains both!  It also contains vitamin C, which assists with the absorption of iron found in plant-based foods (like spinach); tossing some arugula into your summery spinach salad will do wonders for your heart health.  One other thing worth mentioning is its vitamin k content: this vitamin helps with blood coagulation, which is important so you don't bleed out from a paper cut.

Some of the best ways to enjoy arugula include, but are by no means limited to: a cheesy pasta, this bougie pizza, a protein packed breakfast wrap, falafel stuffed pitas, this sweet and tangy quinoa bowl, or even this creative take on quesadillas.

Baby Kale

Like other kales, this contains a ridiculous load of nutrients.  In fact, it's known as one of the most nutrient dense foods out there.  With only 45 calories in two cups, you're going to need to take a double take when I tell you that these same two cups of baby kale also contain iron, calcium, potassium, protein, healthy carbs, sodium, fiber, over 200% of your RDA of vitamins A and C, and last but definitely not least, there is over 800% of your RDA of vitamin K in just two cups of baby kale (Wow, that was a mouthful).  Don't worry about overdosing on vitamin K, but if you're consuming kale and other vitamin K dense foods, I'd recommend skipping vitamin K supplements because your body can only absorb so much at one times before it begins to ignore it.  As for vitamins A and C, this is still a completely safe range to be in.  Now that I've sold you on baby kale, I need to provide you with some really great ways to eat it without feeling like a stegosaurus:

Great meal ideas include Spaghetti with baby kale, warm kale and caramelized mushroom salad, egg & cheese kale bake, and sautéed kale with eggs.  I also encourage you to check out Mary Curnutte's article, "7 Unexpected Ways to Eat Kale When You’re Sick of Salads" for more kale inspo.


This leafy green comes in many different varieties, all taking the general name of endive, which also is a member of the chicory family.  One cup of endive equates to about 8 calories, which supply an array of nourishing factors like carbs, fiber, folate, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. When consumed raw, their flavor is bitter with a crisp texture; making for an excellent addition to a well dressed salad.  Additionally, it's natural scoop shape makes for a perfect hors d'oeuvre;  Simply stuff it with feta crumbles, and top with balsamic glaze and dried blueberries.  When sautéed, this boat shaped veggie becomes tender as it also brings a whole new meaning to the adjective, crispy.  Toss with olive oil, pan fry it up, and drizzle with balsamic glaze for a lovely zing.  There are plenty of other recipes out there for you to try out; This is me encouraging you to test the waters with this boat shaped green.


Endive is basically the cousin of escarole, as they are both members of the chicory family.  The major difference between the two is that escarole's mild bitterness is only really present in the darker outer leaves, making it all-in-all the most mellow of the chicories.  When consumed raw, the brighter the escarole, the sweeter the taste.  As for nutritional values, escarole has a bit more to offer than your average head of lettuce.  While remaining low in calories, it still offers plenty of benefits to your overall health.  In two cups, you will find 15 calories, 3 grams of healthy carbs, 1 gram of protein,  3 grams of fiber, along with much more including iron, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, K, and C. 

Highlighting your entrées with escarole in things like lemon-roasted salmon, crispy chicken thighs, or this unexpected take on classic meatballs are adventurous ways to keep yourself interested in greens like this one.  Also try this butternut squash pasta or this ramen noodle bowl for a tasty way to get your carbs in.  You could also try the sweet or savory route on an escarole salad.  Other ways you might enjoy escarole are by having it sautéed, in soups, or braised.


Ah yes, yet another member of the chicory family.  If you're reading this, it's a sign that you need more chicory in your life.  Frisée is often confused for escarole, but here's how you can spot the difference: both have leaves that are shaggy and bushy, but those of frisée are smaller.  Additionally, its flavor is pretty much somewhere between endive and escarole as far as bitterness and sweetness goes, but its texture is almost the same as escarole.  This mediator of chicories also follows suit by containing a variety of vitamins and minerals while maintaining a low calorie content of 9 calories per cup. The notable amounts of the antioxidant vitamins A and C found in frisée are helpful to keep your immune system strong.   Additionally, vitamin A helps boost your vision health, and vitamin C assists with your absorption of iron- so having a side salad with a hearty meal would benefit you greatly!  Additionally, you'll get a good amount of folic acid from eating a serving size of this green; a form of vitamin B that is critical in the formation of DNA. 

Salads are a simple yet delicious way to incorporate this green into your life.  Try a traditional French salad recipe, or maybe take the tangy and sweet route.  If you're not feeling salads at the moment, try it in your burger for a French twist on an American classic, or this impressive main course of seared duck.


This unique green is native to Asia, and it comes in multiple varieties.  All the varieties have the same general health benefits as well as flavor profile.  Interestingly, this green is related to broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, and even cauliflower; so it only makes sense that Mizuna is absolutely packed with nutrients.  One cup will give you 3% of your daily value (DV) of iron, 6% of your DV of calcium, more than half your DV of vitamin K, 100% of your DV of vitamin A, 6% of your DV of vitamin C, and it'll only cost you 10 calories.  You already know how important each of these things are (if you've been paying attention), but it's also got some other important components: antioxidants!  Aside from vitamin A and C, this green contains more antioxidants like beta carotene, quercetin, and kaempferol

There are tons of ways to enjoy Mizuna, like in pasta, salad, in risotto, in stir-fry, sautéed, in soups, or even alongside quinoa.  You really can't go wrong as far as mizuna goes... And if its taste and nutritional content aren't incentive enough to try it, who wouldn't wanna try something with a cool name like mizuna


This trendy superfood is a member of the cruciferous family, like mizuna.  As a superfood, it is rightfully regarded as nutrient dense.  Just 50 grams, or one cup, will get you 11% of your RDA of calcium, 8% of your RDA of iron, 12% of your RDA of B vitamins, 52% of your RDA of vitamin C, 27% of your RDA of vitamin A, and more than 100% of your RDA of vitamin K.  As mentioned earlier, there really is no upper limit to how much vitamin K you can consume, so it has no known adverse effects (load up your entrées with watercress!).  Additionally, essential fatty acid alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA) is found in decent amounts.  This fatty acid is the most common form of Omega-3 in your diet, and it is important for your heart as well as mental functions (talk about brain food).

The best way to enjoy this elegant green is alongside a protein packed dish, or to highlight a carb-heavy entrée.  Some recipes that deserve attention include, orange pork, ginger chicken, super-grain soup, pesto pasta, or even this take on pizza.  Of course, you can always opt for a salad if you're feeling light: here's a crisp Japanese watercress salad recipe, or this citrusy salad, and finally, this salad is for the avocado lovers out there.

To Summarize

With the many factors that each of these greens bring to the table, you can see why you need a variety of greens in your life.  Green is more than good; it's essential.  Be sure to incorporate its seemingly endless numbers of varieties in your diet so that you can truly obtain all the benefits.  In addition to all the research evidence I've provided, there's tons of other reasons why these greens in particular will make you feel great.  I encourage you to try some of these recipes to get more color in your diet, or come up with your own if you're feeling creative.  If you try any of these greens and they aren't particularly your thing, that's ok!  There's other ways to  keep your plates colorful.