As summer winds down and the seasons shift, you may be feeling a sense of change in yourself, too. September is a great time to start some new healthy habits, or recommit to a healthy lifestyle that may have taken a bit of a vacation over the summer! One of the best healthy habits you can incorporate into your daily life is to eat leafy greens. It’s hard not to notice how mainstream “green drinks” are at your local health food store, and healthy boutique restaurants and juice bars are popping up all over the country! Today it’s easier than ever to eat, drink and slurp your greens! Eat them raw, steamed or sautéed; mix them into a pureed soup; or drink them in a variety of smoothies and juices. We all know greens are good for us, but do you know why?
Eat Your Greens!
Did you grow up hearing your Mom or Dad telling you to eat your vegetables? If you have kids, is this one of the important pieces of advice you try pass down from generation to generation? It should be! And yet, according to the CDC, 90% of Americans don’t eat enough vegetables to reap the ongoing health benefits. Here are just a few reasons to Go Green:
- Greens are powerful immune boosters packed with a unique blend of vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy, including calcium (that’s right, greens have calcium!), magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc; and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
- Greens are a great source of natural fiber to help you stay “regular” and feel full longer, which helps control hunger and reduces cravings!
- Leafy greens are high-alkaline foods, which help fight free radicals (which can contribute to aging and disease). And because greens are also a natural source of folic acid, chlorophyll and other micronutrients, they help strengthen the blood and respiratory systems.
- Greens can lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
- Greens promote a healthy gut by increasing healthy intestinal flora (the good bacteria!)
- Also, according to traditional Chinese medicine, green nutrients are related to liver health, emotional stability and creativity. How many foods can say that?!?
And if you think greens means a boring head of iceberg lettuce, think again! The best greens are the dark, leafy kind, and here are just a few of my favorites. Serve them raw as a side or main salad; steam or stir-fry – greens are truly versatile.
Leafy Green Favorites:
- Kale (massage and tear the leaves for more tender salad servings)
- Collard greens
- Spinach (baby spinach is super tender!)
- Bok Choy
A few of the more unusual greens that can take your salad to a whole new level are:
- Mustard greens