pinterest Save

eat your greens

Momma told you to eat your greens, and she was right! Dark leafy greens are among the LEAST consumed food in America today (in fact, if you look below, we aren't consuming anywhere near what we should be in general). However, they are amongst the HEALTHIEST foods to consume! Below is our veggie consumption from the USDA 2015 standards. Apparently we aren't listening to our mommas (or more likely, they've stopped telling us, since they don't eat them either?!) But why focus on greens in particular?

As Americans, we often think of nutrients in isolation-calcium, iron, Vitamins A, C, E, K, protein, etc. However, when eating whole foods, you are getting nutrients that interact and reinforce each other. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The dark green colors you see in veggies like broccoli, kale, bok choy, spinach, swiss chard, and others, contain protective nutrients that decrease inflammation in the body. Dark leafy greens are the best sources of calcium, better than dairy (oh yes, it's true!).

Greens are also protein powerhouses, and full of iron. However, underneath that green lies other colors you can't see. Leaves of maples, oaks, and ashes turn color as the temperatures drop. This is because the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down with the temperature change, exposing the caretenoids (orange pigments) and xanthopyhlls (yellow pigments) below. The same pigments exist in all dark leafy vegetables. These pigments contain vitamins A, C, and E and are powerful antioxidants for the body.

Dark leafy greens have been shown to help the endothelial lining of your blood vessels, cutting inflammation, and helping blood cells to glide through your arteries. One caveat-those on blood thinners do need to be careful. Dark leafy greens are high in Vitamin K. Vitamin K acts as a natural coagulant, and can work against blood thinning medications like Warfarin and Coumadin. You CAN still eat dark leafy greens, but you do have to let your doctor know you want to. By maintaining a steady intake, your medication can work effectively (hopefully, the more you eat plant-based foods, the less you'll need to take of that blood thinning medication).

What's MORE awesome about these veggies? They are some of the least expensive & easiest plants to grow! For the cost of $1.89, you can get a package of seeds that will last you 1-2 growing seasons. Greens like kale, collards, and swiss chard, are the more hardy greens, being able to grow from early spring all the way through the beginning of winter (and a row cover and you can virtually grow them year round-even in Buffalo, NY!). They grow well in containers and in the ground!

How much should you eat? As many servings a day as you can. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn from the Cleveland Clinic suggests 6 handfuls of cooked greens a day (that's because greens shrink when cooked). That's a lot! Add them into all of your recipes. If making soup, stir them in at the end. A salad, shred them up to change the texture, or massage them with some fresh citrus or balsamic vinegar. Saut? some up and top on a sweet potato.Some great recipes that use greens?

1) Kitchiri: Indian Stew

2) Kale Salad with fresh mangoes and peppers (image above)

3) Arugula Salad with Lentils, Beets, and Grapefruit4) Massaged Kale Salad5) Quinoa Kale Quiche

For tips on how to grow your own veggies, check out my gardening tips page! More how to videos coming this season!

Happy eating, and get your green on!

Jessica from www.gardenfreshfoodie.com

Related Blog Posts

your sugar detox guide

are you vitamin d deficient?

here’s what happens to your body on a juice cleanse

bad diets are responsible for more deaths than smoking

top 5 benefits of a detox diet to reset yourself

war on waste: are fresh veggies healthier than frozen?

got milk? the dairy industry’s mass deception

what happens to your body when you go vegan?

what difference can one person make by going vegan?

how easily can the pope go vegan?

supercharge your sex life

is it possible to prevent and reverse disease?

5 ways plants power us in 2019

detox your body

4 reasons plant-based eating helps with weight loss

eating your way through diabetes

eating healthy doesn’t have to be scary - 5 simple tips

breaking up with caffeine

the most unusual facts about berries

can you get enough protein from plants?

5 foods you should never eat

spotlight on: activated charcoal

5 superfoods for women's health

ancient remedies we use today

5 plant-based foods that help you lose weight

five magnesium-rich foods for stress relief

why detox?

10 ways to sneak in more veggies

high fiber foods you can snack on

myth vs fact: 5 things you didn't know about vitamin c

plant-based aphrodisiacs that work

5 heart-healthy foods

8 underrated veggies & why you should be eating them

probiotics - your best friend around the holidays

5 winter superfoods for more energy

5 easy ways to detox after overindulging

the key benefits of juicing

should you take supplements?

veggie anatomy 101: carrots

is plant-based good for kids?

are plant milks good for you?

good carbs vs. bad carbs

food facts: tomatoes

frozen vs. fresh: know your veggies

10 seasonal superfoods

5 summer foods to keep you hydrated

how much water should you really drink?

plant foods that boost your energy

men's health month: five plant-based benefits for men

5 protein-packed veggies

five concerns about plant-based calories

is soy good or bad for men?

sodium's effects on health and weight

5 winter squashes you need for better health right now

halloween inspired veggies to help you live longer

fat vs. sugar: the battle rages on

the soybean saga: myths and facts

5 reasons to fall in love with kale all over again

top reasons to have an apple a day

food facts: watermelon

plant based protein to keep you satisfied

rockin the rhubarb

iodine on a vegan diet

the truth behind antioxidants and food

eat your greens

do you get enough energy from your food?

healthy snacking tips for you & your kiddos

how to manage your allergies

is it a flower or a vegetable: discover the artichoke

foods that fool you

root down with your root veggies

6 foods that help reduce inflammation

cacao for your loved ones

cha-cha-chia

pulses-the superfood that always has bean

cooking without oil

it's all about the pomegranate

grains to protect your immune system this winter

movember, prostate cancer, and your diet

linking breast cancer and diet

pumpkin seeds and their health benefits

turmeric and it's powerful benefits

growing edamame & health benefits of soy

pumped for peppers!

what's sugar doing to us?

benefits of basil

plant-based nutrition and obesity in children

benefits of raw foods

check out cherries!

lower your cholesterol the easy way. eat more fiber.

red, white, & blue can be healthy for you!

nih guide: how to lower blood pressure with a dash eating plan

happy father's day - how's that prostate?

eat more dark chocolate and lower your blood pressure!

beans v. beef: an infographic

boost your healthy gut bacteria with plant-based foods

stop the madness! treat heart disease with a healthy diet -- not drugs!

cabbage-it's history, use, and nutritional benefit

a plant-based diet is key to controlling diabetes

want to lower your cholesterol? a pill is not a magic bullet!

are you at risk for heart disease?

can eating more veggies save your eyesight?

don't have breakfast without one of these three!