We all know that we should be eating more leafy green vegetables. Yet for many of us, getting our daily dose of the green stuff remains a challenge. Here’s what helps me: understanding how the food I am eating benefits my body, beyond the pounds on the scale. I’m all for looking good on the outside, but I want my inside, and the cells of my body that I can’t see, to look just as stellar.
What’s so amazing about leafy greens?
Leafy green vegetables are essential to establishing a healthy body and immune system. They are high in many of the vitamins and minerals that are vital to optimal health but often lacking in our western diet. Nourishing greens are also loaded with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals, including disease fighting antioxidants.
Still need convincing? Here are 6 more reasons to go get your greens (and FYI, the darker the better):
- Your body benefits from the high alkalinity of leafy greens. Alkaline minerals in your body neutralize acidic conditions caused by chemicals and toxins in the environment, or by your food choices. Adding greens to your daily meals replenishes these mineral stores if they become depleted.
- High in magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc, they are also an excellent nondairy source of calcium. This is key for strong bones, healthy nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Note: spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens are high in oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of their calcium, so be sure to rotate your greens by eating a variety.
- Rich in vitamins A, C, and E, these greens pack an antioxidant punch. The more leafy greens you eat, the more antioxidant power you have at work in your body to protect your cells from damage, including from certain cancers.
- Vitamin C helps your body produce collagen, a building block of cartilage, which may lead to lower risk of arthritis. Collagen also aids in firmer, more elastic skin!
- Chlorophyll gives leafy greens their hue, but it is much more than just a pretty pigment. The chlorophyll in these green vegetables helps to oxygenate and detoxify the blood.
- Leafy greens hydrate your body with their high water content. (Over the holidays I talked about why it’s important to hydrate, hydrate hydrate!)
There are a wide variety of greens available year round, so be adventurous with your selections! Switch up your choices to avoid getting bored and to maximize the nutritional benefits.
Need ideas? Check out two of my recent recipes:
- Kale Avocado Salad – This has a festive twist that’s great for the holidays, but also all year long!
- Greens To the Rescue Smoothie – This is the perfect drink anytime you want to rejuvenate your body.