Green Leafy Vegetables | Go Green with These Superfoods

Learn How and Why Superfoods are Nutritional Powerhouses

green leafy vegetables
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Dark leafy green vegetables are all the rage in our new health-conscious society, but knowledge isn't always power as few of us meet the minimum USDA recommendations of 3 cups of dark green vegetables per week. And yet, these veggies deliver a bonanza of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Do you meet or exceed the recommendations?

A nutrition professor once told me that it was common for our ancient ancestors to eat up to six pounds of green leafy vegetables per day in the form of leaves.

He imagined them walking along from one place to another, just picking and eating leaves as they went. Can you imagine eating a grocery bag full of greens each and every day? Being on a low carb diet may be motivation. With the bulk of green leafy vegetables decreasing appetite and the lack of sugar, green leafy vegetables are a good foundation for people on a low carb diet. When using them, be sure that you create variety around having them. Think about these three ways to add leafy greens to your diet:

  • Smoothies: Add Frozen Green Leafy Veggies like Kale, Spinach or Beet Greens
  • Sandwiches or wraps: Given your low carb diet, using green leafy vegetables in the place of bread in sandwiches or wraps is the way to go low on carbs.
  • Egg Scrambles: Add your favorite leafy green vegetables to omelets or egg scrambles. The egg could use the texture and the taste won't be sacrificed too much given the strong protein taste from the egg.

    Other Differences Between our Diets and Those of our Ancient Ancestors

    Health Benefits

    Dark green leafy vegetables are calorie for calorie, probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food group. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins.

    They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.

    Vitamin K

    Perhaps the star of these nutrients is Vitamin K. A cup of most cooked greens provides at least nine times the minimum recommended intake of Vitamin K a day. That's right, just one cup. Even a couple of cups of raw dark salad greens provides the minimum all on their own. Recent research has provided evidence that this vitamin may be even more important than we once thought (the current minimum may not be optimal), and many people do not get enough of it.

    • Regulates blood clotting
    • Helps protect bones from osteoporosis
    • May help prevent and possibly even reduce atherosclerosis by reducing calcium in arterial plaques
    • May be a key regulator of inflammation, and may help protect us from inflammatory diseases including arthritis. 
    • May help prevent diabetes

      Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so make sure to put dressing on your salad, or cook your greens with oil.

      Almost Carb-Free

      Greens have very little carbohydrate in them, and the carbs that are there are packed in layers of fiber, which make them very slow to digest. That is why, in general, greens have very little impact on blood glucose. In some systems, greens are even treated as a "freebie" carb-wise (meaning the carbohydrate doesn't have to be counted at all).

      Page 2: Types of Greens, How to Cook Greens, Recipes

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