Whether you throw them in a tossed salad, put them in a green smoothie, or eat them as a side dish, leafy green vegetables have many important health benefits.
Greens contain vitamin K, which helps clot blood, protect from heart disease, promote kidney calcification, boost bone health, and prevent arterial plaque build-up. One cup of greens will give you your daily requirement of vitamin K, with kale, dandelion greens, and Swiss chard being the best sources.
Greens help lower cholesterol, especially kale and mustard greens. When bile acids bind with the fiber of these types of greens, it exits the body, instead of going into the bloodstream, where it can raise cholesterol.
Swiss chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and kale support healthy vision as they contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which helps filter out high energy light that can damage the eyes.
Escarole lettuce gives you vitamin B that helps convert carbohydrates into glucose to be used as fuel to make energy for the body.
The bitter taste of many types of greens means they are high in calcium, which is good for your bones. For example, a 1/2 cup of dandelion greens contains 78 milligrams of calcium. Mustard greens and kale may help prevent colon cancer, the more you eat them, the lower your risk for colon cancer.
Add a drizzle of olive oil to your greens and enjoy an extra boost of heart health goodness.
There are many different types of greens to choose from. Kale is a powerhouse of nutrition that has everything you need in a green, including lots of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K as well as calcium, potassium, and folate. And it’s great for juicing.
Collard and mustard greens are often used in Southern cooking, and have only 25 calories in a half-cup serving. Turnip greens are the tops of turnips and are just as good as the vegetable itself, they are tender and require little cooking time to be flavorful.
Swiss chard with its red stalks is a great green to sauté, has only 15 calories per serving, and can bind to calcium so it doesn’t cause kidney stones, and it’s ALSO great for juicing.
Spinach is also a great juicing vegetable; it has only 20 calories per half cup serving and plenty of vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate. It reduces its oxalate content on heating so it is actually better for you slightly cooked than raw.
Broccoli is another excellent green that has only 25 calories per serving and is high in vitamin A and vitamin C. One of nature’s best plant foods, it’s great in stir-fries, salads, as a raw snack, in soups, over pasta, in casseroles and in juices!
Romaine lettuce comes in red or green leaf varieties and is great for salads, sandwiches and even juicing or smoothies. Nutritionally, it is high in vitamin A as well as folate. One cup is only about 10 calories.
Cabbage contains a great deal of vitamin C and other cancer-fighting agents. It comes in green and red varieties, and can be cooked, stir-fried, eaten raw in salads, or juiced. A ½ cup has only 15 calories.
Eat your greens and enjoy the health benefits. Eat well and take care!