Greens are universally panned as being a healthy and beneficial food group. They include collard greens, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, and more. While everyone agrees that they are healthy, not many people add it to their diet. Let alone eats it on the daily. So why should eat greens every day, and how to do it if you are not a fan of greens.
What are Dark Leafy Greens?
Many people would know what greens were if they were served them, but may not known them by name. For instance, there is a difference between Kale, Spinach, and Mustard Greens when it comes to flavor, texture, and nutrient absorption.
For a short list of greens, there are:
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Collard Greens
- Bok Choy
And many, many more varieties to choose from. They are full of numerous vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Calcium, Vitamin A, Iron, and even a small amount of protein. Each green is going to vary in what nutrients it has more or less of, but this is the general idea.
Eating Greens Everyday and Cancer
Leafy greens are rich in nutrients and other compounds that may be beneficial in reducing cancer risks. However, the evidence around whether intake of greens helps with most cancers have yet to be proven. Studies have been done around prostate, colorectal, and breast cancer, only showing a weak connection at best between increased consumption of greens and cancer risks.
There are some exceptions to this. The Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study have both shown that women who have eaten 5 or more servings of greens and other cruciferous vegetables a day have a lower risk of developing lung cancer.
There is evidence though that consuming leafy greens can slow the growth of cancer, and can even help you when fighting it. Granted, this is by no means an alternative to chemotherapy, but it can be beneficial during treatment.
Eating Greens Everyday and Diabetes/Heart Disease
Greens contain a lot of fiber in them, and are even low in sugar. They can help people to lose weight and maintain their weight loss in the long run. These characteristics make eating greens a great option for people who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. Now while it may not help reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes by itself, it can help you to regulate blood glucose and treat your symptoms.
There is a very significant relation between consuming leafy greens and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. This information comes from a meta-analysis published in 2016 in the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease. This study has concluded that their data “indicates a significant 15.8% reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease.”
Now there may be a variable of factors that may account for this. This includes a reduced consumption of saturated fats as a result of consuming more vegetables, and the increased consumption of fiber. So consuming a diet rich in greens can provide a ton of vitamins and minerals, while also potentially removing unhealthy foods from your diet.
There are even studies that claim that consuming more produce in general can help your mental health as well. One study showing that a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, can reduce the risk and symptoms of depression. It is unsure whether it has to do with the greens themselves, or simply consuming more nutrients and antioxidants, but it gives you reason to consuming them more often.
Eating Greens Everyday and Calcium
When it comes to consuming your greens, you are going to have to be care if you are eating them as a source of plant-based calcium. This is because some greens are high in oxalates, which prevents the absorption of calcium.
So if you want to use greens as a main source of calcium, you might want to limit yourself to greens that are low in oxalates. These include Collard Greens, Turnip Greens, and Mustard Greens.
Spinach has the most oxalates of all the others combined, and as a result the amount of calcium absorbed is quite low. The best way to increase the absorption of calcium is to make sure that you are getting in enough vitamin D, and do so with a daily supplement.
Eating Greens Everyday – How?
Ok, I get it. The last thing that you may want to do throughout your day is shovel a cup or two of greens into your mouth each day. It does not sound practical, nor does it sound delicious. So what can you do to consume a fair amount of these, without feeling that you are forcing yourself to eat them? And if we, as adults can’t find a way to increase our intake of greens, how can we set an example for our children?
Well, the good thing about greens, is that most of them do not have much of a flavor. So they are very easy to cook into other foods without changing the texture or the taste of it all that much. One of our favorite savory dishes, especially at the holidays, is our Sweet Potato and Kale Gratin. It is sweet and salty, as the sweet potato balances the saltiness of the parmesan cheese and garlicky kale. And it’s super easy to throw together on a weeknight.
What about kale chips? These are easy to make and provide a lot of nutrients, while also taking the place of otherwise unhealthy and fatty potato chips.
The most popular way to incorperate greens into a diet is through the use of a green smoothie. This is where you make a smoothie with a lot of greens, but you also add bananas and berries, as well as other fruit to counter the taste of the greens. This way, you are getting the benefits of the vegetables, while also tasting just the fruit. One of our most popular recipes is the classic Berry Green Smoothie – a favorite with adults and children alike. One of our apps, Simply Smoothies, offers an entire Green Smoothie pack for less than $1. Download this app, purchase the Green Smoothie pack and you will have a full menu of over 20 Green Smoothies for your daily needs.
Greens are vital to add to just about any diet. They are full of nutrients and antioxidants, and helps to continue eating a healthy diet long term. It may reduce heart disease and certain cancers as well, so is there really a reason to exclude them?