by Susan Smith Jones, PhD

Susan Smith Jones suggests to start on the inside—the inside of your body. She says that when you’re “green” inside, you’re clean inside. Thirteen specific green foods can have a powerful effect on longevity and vitality, suggests Jones, and she shows you how to attack aging—with your fork.

Want to live a long, vibrant life and up your odds of avoiding chronic disease? Green and leafy vegetables should become an essential part of your daily diet. They provide a treasure trove of vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy immune system. They also help ward off disease such as cancer. Leafy greens are excellent for the gallbladder, spleen, heart and blood, and are a good brain food and natural laxative. Most greens can be cooked or eaten raw in salads or fresh juices.

To clean them, soak in a sink of cold water and the juice of one lemon for a few minutes and swirl around, then drain the water. Pat or spin dry. Tear the leaves into small pieces, trim the ends of the stems and chop when necessary. All leafy greens contain chlorophyll, iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A and a bonus of the essential fatty acids, with no cholesterol. The vegetables with the darkest, most intense colors tend to contain the highest levels of nutrients. All lettuce is said to calm the nerves. Here is a brief listing of some of my favorite leafy greens:

1. Beet greens – Best used in juices, they are very high in nutrients, especially potassium, iron and calcium. These greens also can be used in cooking. They are known for their benefit in blood disorders, liver function and the flow of bile.

2. Chicory – This is a bitter green with curly leaves; the young leaves are best in salads. It’s high in vitamins A and C, calcium and iron and aids in liver function and blood disorders. Try radicchio, often called red-leaf chicory, which is great in salads and adds a stunning, beautiful color.

3. Collards – This brilliant green vegetable is a member of the cabbage family. Use only the leaves. They tend to be tough so you may want to steam them for a few minutes. Collards can be used in salads as a substitute for cabbage and are also great for juicing. Because of its high nutrient content, no leafy green is more valuable in the body for disorders of the colon, respiratory system, lymphatic system and skeletal system.

4. Dandelion – The young leaves have a tangy taste. They are good for gallbladder disorders, rheumatism, gout, and eczema and skin disorders. Dandelion is also an excellent liver rejuvenator. They cook the same as any leafy green. They are rich in calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C. These are also excellent to add to juices.

5. Escarole and Endive – From the chicory family, the leaves are very dark green with a slightly bitter taste. These make a good salad (with a citrus-flavored dressing) and also can be steamed. Both are rich in vitamin A, B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium and iron. They’re good for most infections, liver function and internal cleansing.

6. Kale – This is the king of calcium. Use only the leaves of this plant unless juicing. It tastes like cabbage. I often add the juice of kale to carrot and other fresh vegetable juices. It’s very high in usable calcium and is excellent for prevention and care of osteoporosis. FYI: a cup of kale surpasses the calcium content found in a glass of milk and, because it contains an unusually high ratio of calcium to phosphorus, the calcium in kale is absorbed far more successfully.

7. Mustard and Turnip – These greens have a zippy taste with flavors varying from mild to hot. They are good sautéed with a little garlic or steamed, and also can be used in juices. They are high in calcium and vitamin C and are good for infections, colon disorders, colds, flu and elimination of kidney stones due to excess uric acid.

8. Parsley – All types of this green herb are rich in vitamins A, B-complex and C, and minerals such as potassium and manganese. Parsley also contains mucilage, starch and volatile oil. It is very crisp and tangy. This green has an “odor-eating” quality that helps restore fresh breath after a meal with such foods as garlic and onion. Add curly or flat-leaf parsley to fresh juice or chop and add to salads. It’s good for digestive disorders and also an excellent diuretic.

9. RocketAlso known as arugula, and from the mustard family, this is one of my favorite lettuce greens. It has a peppery and tart taste and mixes well with other greens. It adds pizzazz to any raw salad or sandwich, is high in vitamins A and C, niacin, iron and phosphorus, and is good for normalizing body acid with its high alkalinity.

10. Romaine – It’s a wonderful, crunchy green that is highest in nutrients of all types of lettuce, rich in vitamins C and K. Not recommended for cooking.

11. Sorrel – This green has a pleasantly sour, slightly lemon flavor. It’s easily perishable and best bought fresh or grown in your garden. Try sorrel in salads or as a seasoning in soups and casseroles. Sorrel is a powerful antioxidant with the same healing properties as kale.

12. Spinach – Its tender, bright green leaves are most beneficial when eaten raw. Because of the oxalic acid content, some of the calcium becomes unavailable to the body. Spinach contains many valuable nutrients and is high in chlorophyll, potassium and iron.

13. Swiss Chard – From the beet family, this green has a mild taste and is good with walnuts or pine nuts added to a salad. It has the highest sodium content of all greens. Chlorophyll- and calcium-rich, Swiss chard is a natural cleanser and helps strengthen bones. Look for Swiss chard in red, green and rainbow colors.

5 Good Reasons to Eat Green

The more greens you eat, the better. Studies prove that people eating diets high in fruits and vegetables will always have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes plus better memory and eyesight—five excellent reasons to get the five to nine servings that you need daily.

Susan Smith Jones, PhD is one of the world’s most recognizable names and faces in the fields of nutrition, anti-aging, human potential and healthy, balanced living. For 30 years, she taught students, staff and faculty at UCLA how to be healthy and fit. She travels internationally as a frequent radio and TV talk show guest and motivational speaker and is the author of over 30 books, including her latest six, Choose to Thrive; Body Temple Vitality; The Curative Kitchen & Lifestyle; Be the Change; Invest in Yourself with Exercise; and Kitchen Gardening. To get personally autographed copies of her books, sign-up for her free monthly Healthy Living newsletters, or for more information on her work, visit and/or