Top 5 Leafy Greens

Green and leafy vegetables have a wide range of health benefits. They are a rich source of beta-carotene, iron, antioxidants, vitamins, chlorophyll, and dietary fiber.  Below are my favorite 5 that are a must to incorporate any and all diets!

The dark green color of these vegetables is due to their high levels of chlorophyll which is essential to photosynthesis in plants, helping them to absorb energy from light. Chlorophyll oxygenates and detoxifies the blood and is rich in amino acids and enzymes.

Leafy greens are so important to our diets and shouldn’t be missed or overlooked.

KALE is considered one of the most nutrient dense vegetables on the planet. It’s also one of the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Kale features antioxidants, lutein, carotenoids, and beta-carotene which all help prevent diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancers from oxidative stress. This leafy green is also high in alpha linolenic acid which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Cooking Kale can reduce its benefits, minerals, and vitamins. Try adding kale to a chickpea salad with a lemon juice based dressing!

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SWISS CHARD is rich in vitamin K, supports bone strength, and can help reduce type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. It also has anti-inflammatory and phytonutrient antioxidant properties as well as potassium which helps reduce blood pressure and stress on the cardiovascular system. Try adding swiss chard to soups or stir-fries!

SPINACH is known for its high iron content but it also contains vitamins and minerals like folate, vitamin K and A, and manganese. Folate is important for pregnant women and those planning on having a baby, as low folate levels are linked to neural tube defects in fetuses in early stages of pregnancy. Try Spinach raw or cooked from pastas to salads!

COLLARD GREENS are a type of cabbage but have a sweeter and fresher taste to the traditional cabbage. Collard greens have high levels of vitamin C and K, supports your immune system and bone health as well as being full of iron, potassium, and fiber. Try shredding collard greens and adding them to stir-fries!

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BEETROOT GREENS the leaves of beetroot have high levels of potassium, calcium, riboflavin, fiber, and vitamins A and K. The greens of beetroots also have high levels of magnesium, copper, and manganese which supports your whole body. The beta carotene and lutein are known to help prevent eye disorders. It’s also higher than spinach in iron. Try adding beetroot greens to salads or soups!

All leafy vegetables can be eaten in salads. The darker colored greens are more nutritious and have higher amounts of beta-carotene which could also make them taste stronger. Blanch the stronger tasting greens in broth and add to soups and stews.

Leafy greens have the added advantage of being excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber while being very low in calories, and reducing overall calorie consumption is one thing that has been clearly associated with a longer life span.

Balch CNC, Phyllis A.. Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal.

The Magnificent 12 Vegetables

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Eating more vegetables can dramatically reduce and prevent disease. The twelve vegetables, known as the cruciferous vegetables are particularly powerful protectors against cancer, heart disease and strokes.
Cruciferous plants have flowers with four petals that resemble the crucifix.
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The magnificent twelve cruciferous vegetables:
Broccoli– Broccoli is best known for its ability to prevent cancer by protecting cells from free-radical damage and carcinogens.

Kohlrabi– A cross between a turnip and a cabbage, kohlrabi reduces the incidence of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast, uterine, and endometrial cancers, and helps to reduce the carcinogenic effects of cigarette smoke. It is good for treating indigestion, jaundice, diabetes, the lymphatic system, and alcoholism. An excellent source of vitamin C, kohlrabi can help the body to ward off infection.

Kale – It is the richest of all leafy greens in carotenoids and contains an abundance of lutein, a phytochemical that scientists think may be more protective against cancer than beta-carotene.
Rutabaga – Rutabaga, a cross between a turnip and cabbage, is loaded with cancer-fighting compounds. Slightly more nutritious than its distant cousin, the common white turnip, rutabaga is a good source of complex carbohydrates that supply energy to the body.
Brussels Sprouts – Chlorophyll, dithiolthiones, carotenoids, indoles, and glucosinolates in Brussels sprouts that prevent cancer and tumors.
Radishes – Radishes stimulate the appetite; relieve respiratory infections; cleanse the gallbladder and liver; ease cold and flu symptoms; and are a natural diuretic. In Chinese medicine, radishes are used to promote digestion, break down mucus, soothe headaches, and heal laryngitis. Radishes contain salicylates, the same compounds used to make aspirin. Researchers believe these compounds may help to discourage the formation of unwanted blood clots.
Collards – Collards improve the function of the glands and the nervous, respiratory, skeletal, and urinary systems. They protect against estrogen-related cancers, retard tumor growth, and minimize the effects of cigarette smoke.
Turnips – Turnips balance the calcium in the body, reduce mucus, help ease asthma and bronchitis, and relieve sore throats. Turnip root helps protect against heart disease, cancer, and viral infection, and can be helpful in controlling blood cholesterol levels.
Cabbage – Cabbage stimulates the immune system, and kills bacteria and viruses.
Mustard Greens – Mustard greens help to inhibit tumor growth; protect against cancer and heart disease; and help strengthen the immune system. Their high iron and calcium content helps to prevent anemia and build strong bones and teeth.
Cauliflower – Cauliflower helps to protect against stomach, rectum, prostate, colon, and bladder cancer.
Radishes – Radishes stimulate the appetite; relieve respiratory infections; cleanse the gallbladder and liver; ease cold and flu symptoms; and are a natural diuretic.
Mustard Greens-Mustard greens help to inhibit tumor growth; protect against cancer and heart disease; and help strengthen the immune system. Their high iron and calcium content helps to prevent anemia and build strong bones and teeth. Mustard greens are superior to spinach. The calcium benefit is not lost because of the lower oxalic acid content. The part eaten is the leaves. Key nutrients in mustard greens include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), pantothenic acid, fiber, folate, and small amounts of lipids and amino acids. Phytochemicals include beta-carotene, indoles, lutein, zeaxanthin, glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, chlorophyll, tocopherols, and tocotrienols.

Watercress – A member of the mustard family, watercress is rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, potent antioxidants that help to fight cancer.
Consume three one-cup servings from this list each day. Eat one cup raw and two cups slightly steamed, except for horseradish. Add increasing amounts of these vegetables gradually so that your digestive system learns to tolerate them. Start by adding one-half cup twice a week and gradually increase from there.
Balch CNC, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness: Using Foods to Heal. Penguin Publishing Group.