Greens are a powerhouse of nutrients and offer numerous health benefits. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, B9 (folate), C, and K and minerals like iron and calcium. Greens also contain phytonutrients that have been linked to reducing the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Here are some of the top benefits of greens for health:
- Greens help to detoxify the body by cleansing the liver and kidneys.
- They boost the immune system and help fight off infection.
- Greens are anti-inflammatory and can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- Greens promote healthy skin and hair by providing essential nutrients like vitamins A, B9, C, and K.
- Eating greens regularly can help minimize the risk of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
What exactly are leafy greens?
Green leafy vegetables include kale, spinach, collards, and Swiss chard. These veggies are packed with nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K and folate and fiber. They’re also low in calories, making them a great addition to any weight loss or healthful eating plan. Including green leafy vegetables in your diet may help to improve overall health, protect against certain chronic diseases, and promote healthy digestion.
What are the best greens for a healthy diet?
When shopping for green leafy vegetables, always go with the darker greens. The depth of the color is a direct indicator of the quantity of antioxidants. Some of the best choices include:
- Bok choy
- Swiss chard
- Microgreens – including broccoli
- Collard greens
Top benefits of greens
The top benefits of greens include improved digestion, more nutrient absorption, and a boost in detoxification. Greens also help alkalize the body, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation. Additionally, they provide a host of vitamins and minerals essential for good health.
- Keep your heart healthy
Eating greens will boost your intake of anti-inflammatory compounds. They can help promote healthy blood pressure and nerve function. Vegetables are good for the cardiovascular system because they contain more fiber and vitamin K.
- Cancer-fighting compounds
Leafy greens are full of cancer-fighting compounds that protect healthy cells from being damaged. The USDA has stated that 2-3 servings of green leafy vegetables per week can help lower the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer. The cancer-fighting action occurs as the folate in dark leafy greens prevents cancer by facilitating cell division and repairing cells.
- Healthy eyes
Leafy greens contain the antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, which prevent damage to the eyes. These protect vision by reducing oxidative damage and other vision problems such as macular degeneration.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Greens are a low-calorie and high in nutrient food that helps with weight management. As they are a low glycemic index food, you can eat many without adding a large calorie intake to get full. Their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties also make them ideal for those susceptible to type 2 diabetes.
- Improve digestion
Greens can help detoxification and liver health by providing essential enzymes that instigate production. These vegetables are healthy because they provide B vitamins and folate which keep you energized. They are also able to reduce constipation when consumed with a high-fiber diet.
- Aid cognitive health
Studies have found that the consumption of green leafy vegetables can help reduce cognitive decline by lowering the risk for diseases – including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Adding greens to your diet
There are plenty of ways to add greens to your diet. As many green vegetables can be eaten both cooked and raw, this offers lots of options to include them in your diet. Here are a few ideas:
- Add a salad to your meal - try using mixed greens or spinach and arugula. Include some diced vegetables or fruit, and top with a light dressing.
- Make a green smoothie for breakfast or a snack - use spinach, kale, or both. Add some fruit and milk or yogurt for sweetness and creaminess.
- Sauté some greens as a side dish - kale, chard, and collard greens are great choices. Sauté with garlic and olive oil for extra flavor.
- Add green veggies to your favorite soup or chili recipe - spinach, broccoli, or kale all work well.
- Make a pesto sauce for pasta – use your favorite greens along with basil and other herbs. Microgreens make an excellent option for sauces.
Risks and side effects
While green vegetables are generally health-promoting, they can contain harmful bacteria if not stored properly. To reduce the risk of eating contaminated produce, rinse all fresh vegetables under running water and check if they need to be washed. Always store pre-cut and packaged greens and salads in the refrigerator to avoid bacteria growth.
Greens are an essential part of a healthy diet. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can improve your health in many ways. The best greens for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences but adding leafy greens to your diet is a great way to improve your overall health. Just be sure to watch out for the risks and side effects associated with eating greens, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions.