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  • Writer's pictureKim Smolders

Greens. Nutrient Powerhouses.

There is a reason why all health gurus are telling you to load up on your greens - because they are nutritional superstars that are vital for your health!

Leafy green vegetables are brimming with fibre, essential vitamins, and minerals. Consuming large portions every day can help protect you from many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and can also help you live longer.

Your body will feel healthy, strong and satisfied since it is getting the key nutrients from these foods that each cell needs to function properly.

The benefits of leafy greens.

Leafy greens are packed with health benefits. They allow you to live longer, help regulate blood sugar which helps to manage type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular health, strengthen your bones and improve your immune function. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the phytonutrients, polyphenols and carotenoids have also been shown to protect against cancer.

  • Vitamin A helps with good vision and healthy immune function. Leafy greens are a good source of pro-vitamin A carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene which your body can use to make vitamin A.

  • Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant, supporting your white blood cells and protecting your body from free radicals. It is required for the growth and repair of tissues throughout your body, including bones and teeth. Vitamin C can help your body absorb iron from plant-based sources so be sure to squeeze some lemon on your broccoli, spinach and salad!

  • Vitamin K plays an important role in healthy blood clotting, like when we have a cut or bruise. There is also increasing evidence that vitamin K improves bone health and reduces the risk of bone fractures.

  • Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is essential for brain health, helping in the production of dopamine and serotonin. It also reduces inflammation and is important in DNA synthesis and the building or repairing of tissues. It is key in the early stages of pregnancy, so definitely eat your greens when you are expecting!

  • Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It is less well known that leafy greens contain high amounts of this essential nutrient, particularly kale, rocket and bok choy.

  • Magnesium is essential for hundreds of different processes in your body. It allows for proper functioning of nerve and brain cells, promotes synaptic transmission, allows for energy production, bone development, mineral balance, muscle contraction and protein and DNA synthesis.

  • Potassium is an electrolyte that helps cells remain in homeostasis, keeping fluids balanced in your blood and tissues. Potassium also helps nerve impulses and controls blood pressure.

  • Fibre is essential in keeping your digestive system healthy and keep your bowel movements regular. The good microbes in our gut love fibre, keeping our gut, and thus the rest of our body, healthy. Eating a diet high in fibre has been shown to reduce your risk of a range of health conditions including diverticular disease, heart disease, diabetes and bowel cancer. It als has a high satiety factor, making you feel full and helping you maintain a healthy weight.

Which greens are best?

It is crucial that you eat a variety of greens and vegetables a day, both cooked and raw, as each will give you different benefit. Aim for between 6 and 10 cups of greens a day, you really can't overeat on them. In fact, the more the better! They are naturally low in calories and have a high satiety factor which allows you to maintain a healthy weight quite easily.

  • Kale. This power green has been the favourite superfood for a while now. It contains nearly all of the goodness that is available. Kale is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, folate, potassium, and fiber. It protects the heart and can prevent or slow down cancer.

  • Spinach. Spinach is my second favourite super green. I add it to everything - stir fries, chicken broth, smoothies, salads ... It contains folate, vitamins A and C.

  • Broccoli. Rich in vitamins C and A, potassium, folate, fiber, protein, and iron, this green is another powerhouse. It also contains cancer-fighting sulforaphane.

  • Collard Greens. They are extremely nutrient-rich, contributing ample amounts of vitamins A, K, B6 and C, calcium, iron, and magnesium. They lower cancer risk and improve heart and bone health. The choline in collards can improve your mood, memory and sleep.

  • Swiss Chard. These vegetables have a beet-like taste and a soft texture. They contain a healthy amount of vitamins A and C.

  • Green leaf, red leaf, and Romaine lettuce. Mixed salads are a great way to fill up on greens. They are full of vitamin A and folate. Note that darker leaves are more nutritious than lighter varieties.

  • Turnip greens. The tops of turnips are low in calories, and are loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, and calcium

  • Cabbage. Cabbage is often forgotten when thinking of greens, but it is bursting with nutrients, especially vitamin C, manganese and cancer-fighting compounds. great in soups and dishes in the winter, and in fresh salads in the summer. Fermented cabbage, aka sauerkraut, is also essential probiotic for your gut.

  • Small leafy herbs. Herbs do not only add colour and flavour to a dish - they also boost your nutrient intake. Herbs like cilantro, parsley, mint, spearmint, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and fenugreek should be staples in your kitchen as these greens are potent in nutrients similar to the large leafy greens.


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