Mean Greens: Super Food For Everyone
Mom didn’t tell you to eat your greens for nothing. Though TV shows and cartoons love to mock them, there are few foods with more complete nutrition and disease-fighting power than greens. Maybe you already skip the soda. Maybe you already make sure you’re eating lots of fruit and veggies. Those are great, but maybe you want to look extra special for an event like prom-or are just interested in getting even more nutrition into your diet. Whatever the case, read on to learn how to get the glow the green way.
Just what are greens? If prom’s coming up, you should definitely be eating more of them, so it is good to know what they are. Basically, greens are any dark leafy veggie you spot in the supermarket. Some of the most common types to see in the grocery store are spinach, kale, collard and mustard greens, chard, and dandelion. Other green giants to look out for are broccoli, cauliflower, and bok choy.
Though low in calories, greens are one of the most nutritionally dense foods on earth. Just one cup of chopped kale has 206% of your daily requirements for vitamin A, 134% for vitamin C, and 684% for vitamin K. In addition, kale is a rich source of manganese and copper. All of these nutrients combine to give you good skin, strong nails, a thriving body, and a resilient immune system.
Yet greens have more benefits than most know.
Greens are a great source of fiber, which makes you feel full. Feeling a little slow in the bathroom? Eating more fiber can keep all systems flowing smoothly.
You might not think it, but greens are also a good source of protein and calcium. Yep, a vegetarian or vegan who eats his or her greens has no problem getting in daily calcium and protein requirements. In fact, some consider the calcium from greens superior to the calcium from dairy. Doctors Sami L. Bahna and Douglas C. Heiner, authors of Allergies to Milk, for example, point out dairy’s mucus-causing properties and links to respiratory problems and allergies.
Wonder how horses get so big and strong? They eat their greens. Raw spinach, for example, is 30% protein. You would have to eat a lot of greens to meet all of your daily requirements, because greens are so low calorie, but they can certainly offer a sizable portion. A vegan who eats plenty of greens, legumes, and certain grains such as quinoa will easily meet all dietary needs.
Greens are also a good source of iron, which is very important for women, especially at “that time of the month.” So next time you reach for the chocolate, do some pre-gaming with a sexy salad. It will lower your risk of cancer too, since greens are packed with antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin.
But as much as greens rock, some of them are an acquired taste. If you don’t like that taste of raw green veggies, there are a few ways to get around that.
Fruit smoothies, popular for breakfast or snacks, are also a great way to sneak some greens in. With all the fruit and other mix-ins, you won’t even notice a couple cups of spinach. While any fruit works, bananas and cucumbers are especially good at cutting out any potential bitterness.
For a more savory approach, lightly sauté greens in some onions and a healthy oil such as olive or coconut. The oil takes the bite out while the onions compliment the hearty flavor.
When eating raw greens, just use a healthy but flavorful dressing, such as a sesame oil vinaigrette with miso and a dash of soy sauce. And lastly, just give your taste buds time to adapt. If you are a cheese connoisseur and adore all things stilton and gouda, I bet you didn’t grow liking those. Like many foods, greens are an acquired taste, but a taste that is definitely good to have.
If you had a little too much indulgence over Summer Break, you might be looking at ways to be a little healthier. Along with having goals and regular exercise, a green boost is a definite way to get there.