By Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD and Nicole Parmenter
Green leafy vegetables such as arugula, kale, romaine, spinach, collards, and Swiss chard, have so many health benefits it’s hard to keep count. What makes these greens so glorious?
Antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight cancer and age related diseases. Greens also have the amazing propensity to boost the immune system to fight off bacterial infections, colds and the flu.
Vitamins. Leafy greens are packed with vitamins and minerals. With an abundance of vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, greens are nature’s remedy to promote healthy vision, skin and mucous membranes. They also aid in blood clotting, collagen synthesis, the regulation of blood pressure and play a role in detoxifying your body.
Minerals. Green leafy vegetables are powerhouses that contain minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, calcium, folate and iron. The benefits from these minerals are endless: prevention of anemia, arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammation; promotion of heart and bone health; phytochemicals to prevent cancer growth; and, glucosinolates which contain anti-fungal and anti-carcinogenic properties. As you can see leafy greens are bursting with health promoting nutrients!
Kale is King!
If I’ve got your attention now, let me introduce you to my new friend! Kale is my favorite leafy green. Of all the leafy greens, kale packs the most punch nutritionally. It’s extremely rich in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. It is one of the top superfoods and is extremely versatile in recipes, a true luxury to any chef!
Kale pairs well with a broad range of foods from sausage to fruits. A 50g (about 2 cups packed) serving of raw kale provides roughly 26 calories, 0.9g fat, 2g fiber, 2.5g protein, 72mg calcium (more than an equivalent serving of milk), 236mg potassium, 58mg vitamin C, 338µg vitamin K and 4795 IU vitamin A. Kale is a king when it comes to nutrients!
5 Glorious Ways to Enjoy More Greens:
1. Add to smoothies.
2. Add to soups.
3. Try kale chips either homemade or store-brought.
4. Use full leaves as wraps; stuff with hummus, roasted turkey, cheese or veggies and roll up.
5. Tear or chiffonade (cut into thin strips) kale or spinach and toss in a salad, or fold in with romaine lettuce to make a Caesar salad.
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