How many times have you heard you must ‘eat your greens’… what does that even mean? All the Quality Street chocolates with green wrappers?
No! As delicious as that would be (right up until you make yourself sick), that’s not what healthy greens are all about.
It would seem that whilst many of us are eating plenty of veg in our diet, green vegetables are the most commonly missing food, so learning to incorporate dark leafy greens into the diet is essential to establishing a healthy body and immune system.
You may recall me talking in previous articles about our internal garden, our gut flora…. Well, greens that help build this as well as strengthening the blood and respiratory system. If you make the effort to nourish yourself with greens, you may naturally crowd out other foods that don’t serve your body as well.
Did you know that leafy green vegetables are also high alkaline foods? Alkaline minerals in our bodies neutralize acidic conditions caused by the environment. Green vegetables help to replenish our alkaline mineral stores and filter out pollutants.
Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are packed full of fibre, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. As always choosing organic is recommended for optimum nutrient intake, but don’t get hung up on that – eating non-organic greens is still preferable to not eating any at all.
BENEFITS OF EATING DARK LEAFY GREENS:
Strengthened immune system
Promotion of subtle, light and flexible energy
Improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function
Cleared congestion, especially in lungs, by reducing mucus
Promotion of healthy intestinal flora
Depending on where you shop you should be able to find a reasonable choice but it could also be the opportunity you need to grow something new in your vegetable garden.
Common options include bok choy, cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, and dandelion. Arugula, endive, chicory, lettuce, mesclun, and wild greens are generally eaten raw, but can be consumed in any creative way you enjoy. Spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens are best eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of the calcium in these foods. The key is variety. Rotate a variety of fresh greens into your diet to achieve the maximum benefits.
COOKING YOUR GREENS
Even if you’re familiar with greens you may benefit from different cooking methods. You can try steaming, boiling, sautéing in oil, water sautéing, waterless cooking, or lightly pickling (as in a pressed salad – you might want to Google that).
Boiling helps greens plump and relax. Boil for under a minute to avoid losing nutrients in the water. You can also drink the cooking water as a health-giving broth or tea if you’re using organic greens.
Steaming makes greens more fibrous and tight, which helps you feel fuller, longer. This is a great method to help curb your appetite for those trying to lose weight.
Raw salad is also a convenient preparation for greens. It’s refreshing, cooling, and supplies live enzymes.
Why not challenge yourself to trying one new leafy green next time you go shopping? Your body may just thank you for it! What are your favourite greens? Let me know in the comments below.