3 reasons to eat more greens

3 reasons to eat more greens

  • We are all entitled to take an active role in our health, and picking the foods we eat is part of this role
  • Dark leafy greens are chock-full of fiber
  • Dark leafy greens are not only full of vitamins and minerals, but also full of antioxidants

You’ve heard it time and time again; vegetables are the part of a healthy diet, eat the rainbow, eat your greens, etc. So most of us just pick up a salad and start chomping away, right? I don’t know about you, but I like to know why I need to eat more of a certain food, or less of a certain food. I love to learn how food interacts in my body and the specific benefits I will receive from eating more fruits and vegetables.

We are all entitled to take an active role in our health, and picking the foods we eat is part of this role!

Today, I want to focus on DARK, leafy green vegetables. Not iceberg lettuce, but the dark, green, beautiful lettuces that are deep in color and nutrients. These include spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, turnip greens, and mustard greens.

These vegetables are powerhouses when it comes to vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-cancer properties. When I counsel clients with their meal plans, we always focus on what we can add to our plates, and these foods are at the top of my list. Adding dark leafy greens into your daily meal routine will not only boost your plate in color, but will boost your health, prevent disease, and add to longevity. Here are my top 3 reasons why you should add more dark, leafy greens to your plate!

  1.       They boost bone health. Move over dairy! Dark leafy greens actually have more absorbable calcium than milk, cheese, and yogurts. The recommended intake for calcium is 1000 mg/day. One cup of cooked spinach has about 240 mg of calcium, and one cup of cooked collard greens has 358 mg of calcium.

One cup of milk averages about 300 mg of calcium, but also comes along with magnesium, which can work against calcium absorption in our bodies. Eating dark leafy greens is a better way of getting calcium in our bodies because we are getting calcium, along with vitamins A and C, folate, and iron all in one dense dose. So pile on these greens to increase your calcium intake without needing to turn to daily products!

  1.       Dark leafy greens are chock-full of fiber! Fiber helps us stay full and satisfied, but also helps our digestive tracts hum along. Our digestive tract is where the majority of our immune system lies, and the communication between our brain and our GI tract is largely to thank for our bodily functions.

Actually, the GI tract is considered our “second brain” because it dictates a lot of our bodily functions along with our brain. It is crucial to have a well-functioning GI tract, if not for your own digestive comfort, but for your overall hormonal, adrenal, and mood health. Yes, poor GI tract health can lead to mood swings, depression, hormonal imbalances, and an overall poor quality of life. So eat your fiber! Starting with dark leafy greens.

  1.       Antioxidants! Dark leafy greens are not only full of vitamins and minerals, but also full of antioxidants, which protect our bodies from forming free radicals, which can in turn lead to inflammation and cancer. These foods are also protective against other diseases such as macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease, and memory loss.

I hope you have already added these nutritional superheroes to your grocery list and are headed to the store right now! But you may be confused as to how to add them into your diet? Here are some of my favorite ways:

  • Spinach scrambles: just throw in handfuls of spinach to cook down before you scramble your eggs in them!
  • Smoothies: add spinach, kale, or Swiss chard into a green smoothie to get a dense dose of these superfoods
  • Salads: add kale and spinach to salads; alternate dressings and toppings so you don’t get bored
  • Sauteed vegetables: sauté some Swiss chard in coconut oil and garlic for a flavorful side to any meal

As you can see, adding dark leafy greens can be an easy tweak you can make in your diet, which would yield large returns in overall health and wellbeing. If you aren’t used to having these foods, simply start adding one new green a week into your routine, and progress from there. Eventually, you’ll start naturally adding in multiple servings per day, and enjoying their rich health benefits!

About the author

Tveen Verano [MPH, RD] is a registered dietitian nutritionist from Southern California. She is currently working as a renal dietitian and has a private practice as a registered dietitian and online wellness coach. Her passion for nutrition and real food drives her to keep up with current research and provide relevant and applicable information to the public to help stop the trend of obesity and provide vitality and health to everyone.