A colorful plate is nutritionally superior. Natural foods of all different colors provide numerous protective factors in terms of maintaining health and preventing illness. See our informative overview article on phytonutrients for more details.
Greens have long been known for their great health benefits. With super foods like kale and spinach in the green category, there are tons of nutritional properties that make green foods a must have part of a healthy, balanced diet. Greens are abundant, easy to find and add to meals, yet surprisingly under-consumed. Take a look at why these foods are some of the most impactful for the health of your body.
Greens Give Us A Lot
The fact the greens pack a huge nutritional punch is no secret. Full of phytonutrients, these foods provide some amazing health benefits. Overall, greens are known for their ability to reduce inflammation, prevent cancer, promote brain, heart, and vascular health, as well as support the function of the liver and health of the skin. They also aid the body’s ability to regulate hormones.
Some dominant phytonutrients help to account for the nutritional punch in green foods. Glucosinolates are a class of phytonutrients most commonly known for their evidence in cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and kale have a sulfur scent because of the glucosinolates that are present in them. This odor is part of the reason these vegetables have such a strong ability to aid the liver in ridding the body of toxins. Further, when these veggies are chopped or chewed, they break down into isothiocyanates that modulate the way that the body metabolizes estrogen. As such, eating cruciferous veggies is known to reduce the risk of developing hormone-related cancers like uterine or breast cancers. It’s important to note that cruciferous vegetables are most nutritional when eaten raw or gently steamed.
Plant sterols, also known as phytosterols help to prevent the body’s absorption of cholesterol. They are known to help reduce LDL-cholesterol as well as support the immune system. There are several green veggies that are known for their phytosterol content, including but not limited to avocado and lettuces.
Catechins represent a bitter compound that is most commonly found in green tea. Studies have indicated that this compound may have a great indication of the reduction of breast cancer risk.
Phytonutrients aside, greens hold a host of other nutritional benefits. They are high in fiber that supports a healthy digestive tract as well as contain vitamins like potassium and Vitamin K. They support the health of some of the most vital organ systems; the heart and vascular system as well as the liver and digestive tract.
Plenty to Choose From
Green foods have ample options for even the most selective palate. For green fruits; granny smith apples, limes, avocados, pears, and olives are most observed. Yes, olives and avocados are technically considered to be fruits and each superfoods in their own right.
Green veggies to consider include: bamboo sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, bean sprouts, bok choy, broccolini, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, celery, cucumber, green beans, green peppers, kale, spinach, green peas, beet greens, collards, snow peas, zucchini, and okra. Green tea and olive oil are also considered as part of this group
How You Can Get Your Greens
Because greens are so prevalent, there are tons of ways to incorporate more of them into your diet. Avocados are one of the most healthful greens, and quite possibly one of the tastiest due to healthy fat content. They’re also extremely versatile. They can be chopped and added to a salad, mashed and eaten atop tacos, or sliced and eaten with a sandwich.
Foods like bok choy, broccoli, and broccolini are great additions to stir fry or eat gently steamed. They go great alongside brown rice and lean meat.
Instead of morning coffee, exchange out for a cup of green tea. Green tea can be found both caffeinated and caffeine free. It’s a great source of nutrition and may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer!
Spinach is another very versatile green. It’s mild enough that it doesn’t overpower most dishes. It can be added to omelets, pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches and more. Add it to your favorite meal for an additional nutritional punch!
Sometimes Brussel sprouts get a bad rap but they can also be a wonderful addition to meals. Grilled and drizzled with olive oil or roasted, they can be delicious and nutritious.
Always try to have greens readily available to snack on. Cucumbers, green peppers, and celery are easy to find, chop, and have ready to go in the fridge. Choosing these for snacks is a much better alternative to something fat laden and processed.
Greens are one of the most prevalent and most healthful foods to be found. Promoting heart, vascular and brain health, reducing cancer risk, and supporting the function of the liver and other body systems makes these foods a must have color on your plate!