Spring is here and it is time to eat your leafy greens! Chock full of vitamins and minerals, leafy greens are a fantastic addition to a healthy diet. Leafy greens are full of fibre, carotenoids, and act as antioxidants in the body. Dark leafy greens contain great amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, and are rich in essential minerals.
While you can buy leafy greens year-round in most stores, spring is the time that they are the sweetest and most tender. Always wash your greens to remove sand and dirt and they can be stored in the crisper for two-four days. Let’s look at several tasty leafy greens, how nutritious they are, and some examples of how to use these powerhouses of nutrition.
Arugula is high in antioxidants and glucosinolates, which may help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Arugula has high levels of chlorophyll which can help fight free radicals with their antioxidant properties. As with most leafy greens, arugula is high in vitamin K which can help with bone health. Use in salads dressed lightly with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
While most of us cut the green tops of beetroots and toss them in the compost pile, beet greens or beetroot leaves are full of vitamins A and K which is good for your eyes and bones. High in iron, beet greens are beneficial to the blood system, and they have significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other trace minerals. Beet greens can have a strong flavor, so it is best to eat them when they are young. Add the very young tender greens to salads, or sauteed with sweet white onions for a side dish.
A staple in the Deep South of the United States, collard greens are a hardy leafy green. They are full of fiber, vitamins, A, C, and K, as well as manganese, calcium and other trace minerals. Hailing from the cruciferous line of vegetables, collard greens are rich in antioxidants that can help to combat the damage done by free radicals.
Due to the presence of glucosinolates present in collard greens, eating this vegetable may help to lower your risk of cancer by supporting the body’s immune system. Because these leafy greens are thick, they are best suited to braising and sauteing. Cut out the middle rib of the leaf, chop, and blanche in hot water for about 30 seconds. Then saute in olive oil with minced garlic and onion. Toss with a bit of lemon juice and the collard greens make a wonderful side dish. If you would like a more traditional Southern style recipe, add bacon to the mix. Although sometimes difficult to find in Australia, they are easily grown here.
Who hasn’t heard of this powerhouse superfood? Kale has been put on a pedestal of superfoods, and for good reasons. Kale is high in fibre, which is good for digestion, high in iron which enriches the blood, vitamin K which is excellent for bone health, vitamin A which is good for the eyes. Kale is also full of antioxidants. In addition, you can find vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium in kale. Use the tender young leaves in salads, add to sautés with garlic and shallots, or use in your daily juices.
All lettuces contain vitamins A, K, C, and E along with calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. However, not all lettuces are created equal, so look for varieties that have dark, fibrous leaves, such as romaine, red and green leaf, bibb, and butter lettuce. All of these greens are wonderful in salads tossed with a light dressing.
Microgreens are so darned healthy! Because they are the tiny little sprouts of the leafy greens and other cruciferous plants, such as broccoli and cabbage, they pack a wallop of nutrients. They grow quickly, can be cultivated in about 7-10 days, and can be added to salads, eaten on avocado toast, or by the handful.
One of the staples in every crisper should be spinach which can easily be consumed on a daily basis. It is very flavorful, can be eaten a variety of ways, and is full of vitamin A, B6, C, and K. Potassium, zinc, manganese, iron and calcium all are found in this delicious dark leafy green. Good for eyesight, the nervous system, the blood system, and filled with free radical fighting antioxidants, spinach is truly a gem of a nutrient-dense vegetable. Eat raw in salads, scramble with eggs, or steam and serve as a side dish with lemon zest.
Swiss chard, or Silverbeet, is beautiful with its rainbow of colors, super tasty, easy to prepare, and another nutrient powerhouse that is easily grown in a backyard and is available year round. This nutrient-dense leafy green is filled with antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamins A, K, and C and is rich with potassium, magnesium, calcium, and cooper as well as other trace elements. The tender young leaves are delicious in salads and can be added to frittatas, stir-fry’s, steamed as a side dish, and juiced with ginger, carrots, and apples.
When you just don’t have time to cook and eat all of those amazing leafy greens, Isagenix has a perfect solution so that you can still get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals that leafy greens provide for you. IsaGreens is chock full of over 30 vegetables, herbs, and botanicals that are designed to compliment your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. The IsaGreen blend is designed to fight free radicals, boost immune health, aid in cleansing, and is tasty, and convenient to use.
As you can see, leafy greens are wonderful and should be eaten daily. Be creative with using them, and consider growing your own microgreens, and having a leafy green garden!