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Do you regularly eat dark, leafy greens? For many, this food isn’t often included in their diet, apart from an occasional salad. But by adding more leafy greens, you can boost your nutrient levels and that can help your body heal and thrive.
There are plenty of different types of leafy green vegetables to try. So try several until you find the ones that you like best. There are also plenty of different ways to eat them, so find what works best for you!
Some of the top leafy greens:
- Collard greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
- Bok choy
- Beet greens
- Mustard greens
- Broccoli rabe
Leafy greens nutrition
Greens are rich in nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, zinc, folate, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. They also contain plenty of fiber and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives green vegetables their color.
By itself, chlorophyll has some amazing health-boosting properties! It can help control body odor, encourages detoxification of the body, fights cravings, helps fight candida, and is a powerful antioxidant. Pretty impressive, right?
But there’s a whole lot more to leafy greens than just chlorophyll, and that means more benefits for your health as well!
The benefits of leafy greens
They are heart healthy
Leafy greens are rich in B vitamin folate. Folate has been shown to reduce levels of the amino acid homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine levels have been connected with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. A reduction of homocysteine may reduce heart disease and stroke risk when greens are consumed regularly.
Helps the brain stay healthy
A study published in Neurology in January of 2018 found that people who ate 1/2 cup cooked greens or 1 cup raw daily experienced a slower decline in cognitive function. A separate review in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014 found that those who consumed a Mediterranean diet, which includes a lot of leafy greens had a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
Helps reduce depression
A recent study showed that low folate levels were linked to an increase in depression. Leafy greens are rich in folate, and consuming them may help to boost levels, reducing the symptoms of depression.
May help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes
A 2010 study showed that consuming more leafy green vegetables may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study showed that eating one and a half extra servings of greens daily reduced the risk by 14%.
Inflammation is at the root of many chronic illnesses. When inflammation is present, it is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself by fighting something that it has perceived as being harmful. In the short term, this natural healing process is natural and healthy. But problems start when inflammation becomes chronic. Heart disease, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and asthma are only a few of the serious illnesses that have been linked to chronic inflammation in the body. Dark leafy greens are rich in vitamin A, D, E, K, and alpha-linolenic acid, which have all been shown to help reduce inflammation levels.
Getting plenty of fiber in your diet is a great way to boost digestive health! Of course, leafy greens are rich in fiber with can help you to stay regular. Dark leafy greens are also a great source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are food for good gut bacteria, so eating greens regularly can help you to rebuild your gut microbiome by keeping the good gut bacteria healthy and happy.
Different ways to eat leafy greens
Of course, you can always eat leafy greens raw in smoothies and salads. The best greens to eat raw are kale, spinach, romaine, swiss chard, arugula, cabbage, dandelion, cabbage, and microgreens. One of my personal favorite ways to eat them is in salads with other health-promoting ingredients. If you tolerate raw well, then eat away!
Here are a couple of my favorite leafy green salad recipes!
Spinach salad with blueberries and blue cheese
These days, with so many dealing with digestive issues, not everyone digests raw greens well. For some, eating raw greens leaves them bloated and gassy. For those with sensitive tummies, cooking your greens may be a better option. Leafy greens such as kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens, collard greens, and turnip greens all work well cooked. And there are many different ways you can cook these greens! Although many will turn up their noses as cooked greens, when cooked and seasoned the right way they should be flavorful and delicious! Eating healthy never has to mean eating bad-tasting food!
As a side dish
Use them as a side dish. Simply saute them over medium heat in a little bit of olive or avocado oil. Lightly salt them and add additional seasonings of your choice. Easy peasy!
This is one of my favorite ways to use cooked greens. Just add them to your favorite soup or stew recipe. So easy to do and it adds some great nutrients and fiber to your meal too.
Here is my favorite leafy green soup recipe!
Slow cooker sausage white bean and spinach soup
Leafy greens in other dishes
Of course, you can also include leafy greens in other recipes as well. They work well sauteed and added to omelets, stuffed in chicken, in casseroles. The sky really is the limit when it comes to ways you could add cooked greens to your diet!
Here are a couple of other ways I’ve used cooked greens.
Spinach and feta stuffed chicken
Instant Pot vegetable frittata
Adding dark leafy greens to your diet can help give your body vital nutrients that it needs to restore and maintain health.