Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables (also called Leafy Greens) are considered an essential part of a balanced diet. They are a rich source of nutrients, containing high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. They also contain vitamins A, B, C and K. Additionally, leafy greens are full of phytochemicals such as polyphenols, which have tremendous amounts of health benefits. Polyphenols have been well studied and are proven to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental decline. Green leafy vegetables have a low glycemic index, which is particularly helpful to persons with diabetes. Their low caloric value also makes them ideal for weight management.
TYPES OF LEAFY GREENS
There are many leafy greens available. Some common ones are listed below.
For more information about different types of leafy greens click on the links below.
BENEFITS OF LEAFY GREENS
1. Reduce Inflammation
Currently, our bodies are under constant attack because of unhealthy diets, alcohol consumption, pollution, smoking and stress. These constant external stressors can continuously trigger a low-level immune response referred to as chronic or systemic inflammation. When immune cells are summoned but have nowhere to go, they begin to attack the body's own tissues and organs, leading to chronic disease. All green leafy vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that may help reduce inflammation and promote health.
2. Fights cancer
The effect of (leafy greens) polyphenols on human cancer cells is usually protective; they induce a reduction of the number of tumors or their growth. Some research has found that the carotenoids in dark green leafy vegetables can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast, skin, lung and stomach cancer cells.
3. Build strong bones
Green leafy vegetables are a good source of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K, which promote bone health. They also contain nutrients like potassium, which help to reduce calcium loss in the urine. Therefore leafy greens can help to build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis and hip fractures, especially in the elderly.
4. Protect the brain
According to a study that was done by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, eating at least one serving of green leafy vegetables everyday can lead to slower cognitive decline (memory and thinking skills). One other study has also shown that a diet rich in leafy greens can contribute to brain health and may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Prevent Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease
Eating more green leafy vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Polyphenols may also improve insulin resistance by preventing glucose absorption in the gut or of its uptake by peripheral tissues.
A number of studies have demonstrated that consumption of polyphenols in leafy green vegetables can lower the chance of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks, heart failure, stroke and hypertension.
6. Anti-aging effects
Aging is the buildup process of damaging changes in the cells and tissues over time, which can result in an increased risk of disease and death. This damage is mostly likely caused by free radicals/oxidative stress. Studies have found that a diet rich in antioxidants and polyphenols found in leafy vegetables may reduce these harmful cellular effects and may have anti-aging results.
You should aim for at least 1 cup of green leafy vegetables per day; one cup or serving size of leafy greens is approximately 250mls or 80mg.
When shopping you should choose fresh greens that are crisp, rich in color, and not wilted. Avoid any bunch with slimy or yellowing or brown leaves, they may taste bitter when cooked and might
cause the whole bunch to spoil faster than normal.
Try to keep greens separate from household chemicals and raw meat as much as possible. Throw away greens that have come in contact with raw meat or have been sitting in the fridge for a long time.
Darker greens are more nutritious
Iceberg lettuce is one of the most common leafy green vegetables, however it provides a lower concentration of nutrients than other leafy vegetables. In general, darker greens provide more nutrients. Also, baby greens are usually more nutritious than mature ones.
Diversify your leafy greens
Different greens contain diverse amounts of certain unique phytonutrients. By eating only one or two types of leafy greens, you might not get any of these nutrients at all or may only get some in smaller amounts. By eating and rotating a variety of greens, you will get a more balanced amount of vitamins and minerals also. Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli are common greens, but you should also add in others such as Kale, pak choi, arugula, collard greens and others.
Leafy greens can be eaten at any time of the day; breakfast, lunch or dinner. For breakfast, they can be added to eggs to make omelets, they can be added to sandwiches and can even be added to “green” juices or smoothies.
Have them on their own
Salads are a simple way to incorporate several cups of leafy green vegetables. You can add other kinds of vegetables to your salads such as chopped nuts and fruit, with a little bit of dressing. However, greens are also good to eat alone as a delicious side dish, for example ‘callaloo’. They also
taste good when sautéed and used in a stir-fry.
Toss them in
Add leafy greens to soups; warm soup usually softens tough greens and makes them easy to chew. For persons who are picky eaters, soups are also a great way to hide some leafy greens’ bitter flavor. Greens are also good in rice and pasta; toss them into the cooking water close to the end of cooking (do not over cook).
I hope that these tips on GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES were helpful; Remember, Your Health is Invaluable.
By Dr. J. Lawarna Matthew
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
Visit the links above for more information
10/1/2021 04:50:24 am
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7/6/2022 11:49:16 am
Thanks for the tips and explaining what are the benefits of each leafy vegetables.
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Dr. J. Lawarna Matthew