Leafy greens are among the most nutritious vegetables available to us throughout the year. They’re extremely versatile (eat them raw, sauté them, boil them, bake them, etc.) and are easy to add to your daily diet.
Leafy greens are packed with fibre, vitamins A, C, E and K, and B vitamins. Plus, dark leafy greens are packed with antioxidants and iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and carotenoids.
There's no doubt that leafy greens such as kale, spinach, arugula, and chard are superstars of nutrition. Leafy greens are low in calories, high in fibre, vitamins, and phytonutrients, and have a lot of health benefits. But did you know they can also help support preventative measures against disease? Here are just a few of the many health benefits gained when including leafy greens in your mealtime prep!
Supports optimal brain function
Reduces belly bloat
Helps with skin health
Supports bone health
Improves inflammatory response
Helps regulate blood glucose levels
Supports Gut Health
According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, "important research has found how your gut bacteria, a.k.a. microbiota, love to feed on a unique sugar molecule [don’t panic ‘sugar’ is just another word for carbohydrate] found specifically in leafy green vegetables." Leafy greens feed your microbiota in a different way than dietary fibre and prebiotic fibre, according to the study. Your intestinal residents reproduce when they have access to their favourite food! You'll have fewer less desirable bacteria in your gut as the number of good bacteria increases. This discovery may help to explain how certain good bacteria protect your gut and promote health.
Here are our Top 5 Leafy Greens!
We have often heard how important eating our vegetables are to our health and well-being, but we don't always know which ones are best for us or how to cook them!
Now, you can't go wrong adding any type of vegetable to your diet, but we gathered a list of nutrient-rich leafy greens that you can start to add to your meals today!
#5 Collard Greens
These healthy little green leaves are rich in nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K and rich in calcium and folate. Collard greens provide nearly twice the amount of calcium as spinach and are high in potassium and magnesium, too. They are great for a salad or to have as a side with most mealtime dishes. Collards are best when steamed and cooked to unlock their nutritional value and aid digestion.
For those of us that remember Popeye, spinach is his favourite green and there are reasons for that! This dark green is high in vitamins A and C as well as folate. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 180-gram serving of boiled spinach provides 6.43 milligrams of iron or approximately one-third of your recommended daily intake. Spinach is best consumed in omelets, soups and other cooked dishes because it’s high in oxalates, but with its subtle taste, it can easily be added to your favourite fruit smoothie or protein shake!
Kale has developed a reputation for being one of the most healthy plant foods available and is often ranked #1 among its leafy peers. With a high level of nutrients in its leaves, Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, and contains ample calcium, folate and potassium. Kale can be a bit difficult to chew when raw, so try rubbing the leaves in olive oil, or lightly steaming them with olive oil and garlic before eating them. Kale chips also make a nutritious and tasty snack!
Some call this nutrient-packed green the "multivitamin of plants!" and for good reason. Cabbage is rich in antioxidants, high in fibre, and Vitamin C. This leafy green can also help reduce inflammation, aid digestion, and keep your heart healthy. Cabbage can be eaten raw in slaws, salads or fermented to make sauerkraut. It can even be boiled and cooked with meat in many cabbage roll recipes.
#1 Dandelion Greens
To some, this determined little weed that appears in our garden is seen as a nuisance, but to many around the world, its medicinal properties outweigh any sacrifice made to your lawn. Dandelions have been used to help purify the blood, boost the digestive process, improve elimination, support liver and kidney function, and much more! They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. They also contain vitamins E and folate, and are rich in antioxidants. Due to their bitter taste, they are best consumed cooked or paired with sweet fruit/dressings if used raw in a salad. You may also look for dried dandelion tea!
Whatever your choice, adding a variety of leafy greens will keep you healthy and strong as you age.
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