A Handful of Greens A Day Keeps the Doctor Away…

Why Adding More Greens to Your Daily Diet is Beneficial to Your Health

Cierra Martin, Bring It Food Hub

It has become a pretty common fact that eating more green leafy vegetables are better for your health, yet many people still struggle with adding greens to their dinner plate. So just how good are these little green things, and is it worth the struggle of forcing down more spinach each week?

According to recent research, leafy green vegetables are the most nutrient rich vegetable out there, calorie for calorie; meaning that for each calorie, these veggies contain more nutrients than any other.  In addition to being low calorie and still packed with nutrients, dark green vegetables have high amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals linked with disease prevention, longer life expectancy, weight-loss and improved heart, eye and bone health.

While keeping everything clean and working on the inside is very important, adding more greens to your diet has also been linked to outer beauty as well. Because of the high vitamin C content in the majority of these greens, consuming them can help your body make the collagen needed for beautiful, strong, glowing skin. I personally started juicing and blending about a year ago, making spinach and kale smoothies every morning, and noticed differences in my skin immediately. Every morning while my coffee brews, I grab a big handful of spinach, one banana, a scoop of peanut butter, ice and a splash of water and blend it up for a delicious breakfast shake!  Since I started this morning ritual, I’ve noticed fewer breakouts, have a better working digestive system and feel much more energized overall. Yay spinach!

But don’t jus take it from me! The the U.S Department of Agriculture recommends that people include 3 cups or more of dark, leafy vegetables each week, but with so many greens out there, it can be hard to know which are best and how the heck you can make them taste good. Don’t worry, it is possible. Check out our adapted list below  of our favorite greens, their star nutrient qualities, and the best ways to prepare them, and start eating more greens this Fall!

Kale

Nutrient Highlight: Vitamins A, C, K E and B 1,2,3 calcium, beta carotene, iron, magnesium and the carotenoid lutein. May help boost immune function, protect against cancer and helps rid your body of natural toxins.

In the Kitchen: Great for breakfast smoothies, omelets and stir fry!

Best Recipes 

Spinach

Nutrient Highlight: Fiber, vitamins A, E and K, folate, riboflavin, calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese. May help maintain healthy bones and eyes.

In the Kitchen: Use raw in salads, smoothies, soups, casseroles, pasta dishes and side dishes.

Best Recipes

Collard greens

Nutrient Highlight: high in fiber; vitamins A, C and K; folate;  calcium and manganese. May help protect against heart disease and cancer, maintain healthy bones and support digestive health.

In the Kitchen: Stream or sauté for a side dish or add to soups.

Best Recipes

Swiss Chard 

Nutrient Highlight:Vitamins A, C and K, iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese. May help with blood sugar regulation and support bone health.

In the Kitchen: Use raw in salads or boil, roast or sauté for a side dish.

Best Recipes

Bok Choy or Chinese Cabbage

Nutrient Highlight: Vitamins A, C, K and B-Complex vitamins, Calcium and dietary fiber.

In the Kitchen: Best in Stir fry’s, coleslaw or Asian themed salads.

Best Recipes

Mustard Greens

Nutrient Highlight: Vitamins A, C and K and folate. May help boost immune function and help protect against cancer and heart disease.

In the Kitchen: Steam or sauté as a side dish, add to soups, or use raw in salads.

Best Recipes 

Arugula 

Nutrient Highlight: Vitamins A, C and K, Folic acid, Iron and Copper.  As one of the best vegetable sources of Vitamin K, arugula provides a boost for bone and brain health. Like other leafy greens, arugula is also a hydrating food, helping keep your body hydrated in the heat of summer.

In the Kitchen: Great on pizzas and in salads and pastas.

Best Recipes