While eating from the rainbow of colors of whole foods is absolutely great guidance, there is one particular color that should be in everyone’s daily diet. That color is green. We don’t necessarily mean green peppers or green apples, We mean leafy green vegetables.
We all know that leafy greens are a powerhouse in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein and phyto-nutrients. But read on to learn other important reasons to keep those greens in your fridge and in your meals.
The leafy greens that we are talking about are collards, kale, dandelion, Swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, arugula, watercress, cabbage, red and green leaf Romaine, and of course the bitter greens like mustard and turnip greens.
- Oranges may be the first thing your reach for when you have a cold due to their vitamin C content. But gram for gram, Kale actually has more vitamin C.
- Swiss Chard gets its name because of extensive cultivation in Switzerland. The botanist who discovered and then named it was from Switzerland.
- Just half a cup of raw Spinach counts as 1 of the servings of vegetables you should eat a day. No wonder Popeye was so strong!
- Don’t let Bok Choy’s celery-like appearance fool you, it’s actually a member of the cabbage family.
- Arugula is also known as salad rocket and garden rocket, because of its rocket-fast growth speed.
- Collard Greens are superstars when it comes to lowering cholesterol. In fact, the cholesterol-lowering ability of collard greens may be the greatest of all commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables. Beating out kale, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
- Watercress has more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals, its health giving properties have been known since ancient times. It is believed that around 400 BC Hippocrates, the father of medicine, located his first hospital beside a stream so that he could grow an abundance of watercress to help treat his patients.
- Another ancient green is Cabbage, which dates back to the 1600’s. It is believed that drinking juiced cabbage assists in curing stomach and intestinal ulcers.
- Beet Greens have also been cultivated since prehistoric times. In fact, early Romans only ate the beet tops and left the beet roots for medicinal purposes.
- The nutrients in Dandelion Greens may help reduce the risk of cancer, multiple sclerosis, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and stroke.
Remember, the darker the green, the more densely packed with nutrients it is. And of course, never include iceberg lettuce.
The primary vitamins in leafy greens are C, K, A, E and folate.
Some of the Benefits of Vitamin K are:
- Vitamin K is known to help calcium be properly assimilated which may reduce or even prevent the risk of atherosclerosis by cutting down the calcium in artery plaques
- Prevents the onset of osteoporosis
- Helps reduce inflammation in inflammatory diseases such as arthritis
- Capable of preventing diabetes
- Promotes proper blood clotting
The minerals include iron, magnesium, and potassium. Potassium can help reduce blood pressure and is also needed to help build strong bones.
Phytonutrients are natural chemicals in foods that aren’t necessary for bodily function but act as a preventive step in decreasing cancer risk and increasing overall health.
Several noteworthy phytonutrients in leafy greens include lutein, zeaxthanin and beta-carotene.
Fiber is an important carbohydrate and isn’t even considered one in most diets. Collards and spinach have 5 to 7 grams of fiber per cup.
Leafy greens have so many benefits:
- They lower your risk of diabetes by regulating your blood sugar levels
- They reduce your risk of heart disease
- They reduce your risk of obesity
- They reduce your risk of cancer
- They have been shown to improve acne
- They have been shown to improve arthritis
Studies have shown that eating at least two servings of dark leafy greens a week keeps the brain young and slows mental decline. And this is by a whopping 40 percent compared to those who ate little or no leafy greens!
One serving of leafy greens is about a cup which has 20-25 calories.
What are ways to include more leafy greens in your diet?
Besides the typical green smoothie, we have added them to our stir fries, soups, salads, most cooked dishes, and of course vegetable juices.
Let us know the ways you add these mighty greens to your daily diet.