Everyone talks about the benefits of going green these days. It’s often considered our social responsibility to do our part in whatever capacity we can: after all, a healthier planet is what “going green” is all about, isn’t it? Maybe so, but for just a moment I’d like you to shift gears and consider a completely different “Green Initiative”. One that will create a much healthier environment for someone you should care very much about – yourself.
If the green movement is cutting edge stuff these days, then my Mom was one of the original hipsters. Way cool and way ahead of her time, she was preaching the importance of green, leafy vegetables long before Al Gore invented the internet. Looking back at those long family dinners, it seems uncanny to me now how much of a visionary my Mom really was. Who would have thought that 30 years later, going green would be so cool?
Going green with your diet may not be as sexy as saving the planet, but c’mon… you can’t save the planet unless you can first save yourself. Green leafy vegetables contain antioxidants, reduce your risk for diabetes, can help prevent cancer, improve digestion, and strengthen your immune system. Each serving of these nutrient-dense superfoods contain loads of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fiber too.
The good green news doesn’t stop there, either! These vegetables are also an excellent food source for low-glycemic carbohydrates. These types of carbs are slow burning and are a more efficient form of energy. This means greater sustained energy levels, mental clarity and less fat. Multiple studies have shown that foods made of low-glycemic carbs are less likely to be shuttled through the bloodstream towards fat cells; which accounts for its diabetic benefits, too.
If your daily diet has been lacking in these jolly green giants, now’s the time to reconsider and get serious with your own green initiative. Listed below are my top 10 green leafy vegetables, packed with everything you need to stay healthy. Phytosterols, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber… it’s all here to help you detoxify, reduce the risk for cancer and diabetes, lose weight and more.
Big, leafy and yummy, this vegetable is packed with nutrients. If you are detoxifying and want to remain gluten free, use collard greens as a roll-up instead of a pita or tortilla.
Make romaine lettuce your substitute for iceberg, which holds virtually no nutritional value. Not only does romaine taste better, but it’s loaded with vitamin A.
Don’t care for turnip greens? Well, consider this… that slightly bitter taste you’re complaining about is due to this veggie’s super-high calcium content. In fact, ounce for ounce, turnip greens outrank almost every other green vegetable in the group. Find a good recipe and add this to your list of must-have foods.
Popeye’s not the only one that loves his spinach. Nutritionists will tell you that this leafy vegetable is loaded with iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate. It’s easy to incorporate into a wide variety of recipes and salads too, firmly entrenching Popeye’s secret muscle food as #4 on our list.
Tried and true, everybody knows that broccoli is loaded with fiber and nutrients. Cooked or crunchy, this food is a winner and should probably be ranked higher than #5. Did I mention the fiber?
Beets and Turnips:
I know these are not really green and leafy, but beets and turnips had to receive an honorable mention for their detoxification benefits. Rich in potassium, calcium, vitamins A and C… these are extremely nutrient-dense foods.
Lonely and often forgotten, watercress is packed with carotenoids, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E. Honestly, if it were more readily available, it would be at #1.
Nutritious and with a little extra zip to their taste, mustard greens are an excellent addition to any meal. Try the younger sprouts as a way to spice up your next salad.
Cabbage is great in coleslaw; just go light on the sugar and mayo. Cooked in soups, cabbage is often used to help control weight and to remove toxins.