As you may have noticed, I share a lot about adding dark leafy greens to your diet, and for good reason. Green leafy vegetables are very nutrient dense and incredibly healthy for us. They are a vital source of antioxidants, and if you are wanting to lose some weight they can help in that effort, too.
There is a challenge though. Most of us don’t know where to start or how to prepare them besides in salads (which is a great start). Having one cup of dark lettuce or mixed greens accounts for one vegetable serving. If you add a ½ cup of one or two more vegetables on that salad, now you have two or three servings. This is especially easy in the summer months when salad greens can be purchased fresh locally.
So what to do besides having salads? I am going to share a little bit about five dark leafy green vegetables and a recipe for each one. I know when I am shopping for something, I know it is helpful to see what it looks like, so I have included an image of each for your shopping ease. I hope this will encourage you to try some of these recipes and add more leafy greens to your diet. Your body will thank you for it!
Lettuce – Red, Green, and Romaine are great for salads. The darker the lettuce, the more nutrients it will have. Red will be slightly healthier than green because it is darker. All lettuces are a good source of chlorophyll and vitamin C. Romaine is a good source of vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamins B1 and B2. It is also an excellent source of manganese.
I use all three of these of these lettuces in our salads topped with cucumber and/or shredded carrots. It is quick and easy.
Recipe for Cranberry Almond Lettuce Salad
Kale is known as one of the healthiest vegetables. It is an excellent source of carotene, vitamin C and B6, and manganese. It is a very good source of dietary fiber and the minerals copper and calcium.
Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration of antioxidants and Sulfur-containing phytonutrients. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific type of antioxidants found in kale that are associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale can help lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. This is especially true when kale is cooked instead of eaten raw.
Why do we want to cook kale? Raw kale is high in oxalic acid, which binds with minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the body causing them to crystallize. These crystals can damage tissue, cause inflammation in the body, and kidney stones. It can also inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland which challenging for those with thyroid issues.
I will chop kale into small pieces, saute, and then add to rice and stir-fried dishes.
Recipe for Healthy Kale Eggs Breakfast Cups
Collard Greens and kale are very similar; kale has leaves with curly edges and is less tolerant to heat.
Collard greens leaves are a good source of fiber. Eating them regularly builds up resistance power in the body to control the onset of colon cancer, acute bowel disorder problems, and hemorrhoid disorder. Their antioxidants work to purify the body. Eating collard greens also has the capacity to lower blood cholesterol levels. It is very important not to overcook collard greens; they will begin to emit the unpleasant sulfur smell associated with overcooking cruciferous vegetables.
Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin D and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Swiss Chard is an excellent source of carotenes, vitamin C, E, and K, dietary fiber, and chlorophyll. It is also an excellent source of the minerals magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese. It is one of the most powerful anti-cancer foods, particularly against digestive tract cancer. Swiss Chard provides 388 percent of the daily value of vitamin K in just one cup of cooked greens. Vitamin K is important for maintaining bone health. Its other benefits include preventing and treating coronary artery disease, prevents inflammation, helps with hypertension, and is good for skin health.
Don’t toss those colorful stems as they are edible also. Check out this link for ideas.
Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, carotene, vitamin C, and folic acid. It is a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B2. Spinach is one of the most alkaline-producing foods, making it useful in helping to regulate body pH. Spinach contains more than a dozen individual flavonoid compounds, which work together as cancer-fighting antioxidants. It contains a carotenoid that makes prostate cancer cells destroy themselves, and has an antioxidant that prevents the formation of cancer cells. It also protects your brain function from premature aging and slows old age related effect on your mental capabilities.
I add spinach leaves to our salads and will saute chopped leaves to cook with eggs for breakfast.
Recipe Spinach Ball Appetizers
I have highlighted just five of the dark leafy greens that could be added to your diet. There are many more that you can venture out and try. Share in the comments any recipes or tips you may have for dark leafy greens. As I shared in a previous post about inflammation, they can be very beneficial to combating inflammation. I hope you will try at least one of these recipes and let me know how you like them.
Murray, M. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. Atria Books. New York, NY
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