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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Greens: The Powerhouse of Nutrition

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Here are some of my favorite greens-I tend to add one or two different ones every week to add variety to my diet.  Try to buy organic whenever possible!!  

Power Greens: Spinach, Kale, Chard, Carrots

a) Spinach: Spinach is a dark leafy green vegetable and one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet! Because it’s high in fiber and very low in calories, spinach can help you manage type 2 diabetes and is a terrific addition to any weight loss plan. It's also packed with nutrients — it's a good source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. Spinach contains very high amounts of potassium and vitamin K, two nutrients that may help preserve bone health. The iron and B vitamins in spinach help maintain strong, healthy hair and a healthy circulatory system.

b) Kale: Kale is a cruciferous and leafy green vegetable from the cabbage family, similar to collard greens. Because it’s a high-quality carb and very low in calories, kale can help you manage type 2 diabetes and is a terrific addition to any weight-loss plan. It's also packed with nutrients: It's a good source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. The calcium and potassium in kale help keep your bones and teeth strong and may prevent PMS symptoms. Kale is also high in the anti-inflammatory antioxidant quercetin, which protects against arthritis and memory loss, as well as riboflavin, a B vitamin that may protect against migraines. In addition, it is a very good source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.

c) Chard: Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that tastes somewhat similar to spinach and can be prepared the same way. It is a good source of antioxidants, including vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help prevent arthritis and maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. Swiss chard also contains magnesium and potassium, minerals involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. In addition, magnesium is also helpful for individuals who experience migraines or PMS. Vitamin K in Swiss chard may prevent bone fractures.

d) Carrots (ok, not a green, but it's in my mix, so I'll share their benefits too) Carrot is one of the most healing foods that provides the finest and highest quality in nutrients, especially from its juice. It is an excellent source of pro-vitamin A, vitamins C, D, E, K, B1 and B6.  It is rich with biotin, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, organic sodium and some trace minerals. Carrot greens/tops CAN be eaten. It is very rich with potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K and protein. Potassium is a key mineral in our body, thus high consumption of it keeps all the organs in our body in tip-top condition. The known phytonutrients in carrots are lutein, lycopene, anti-oxidants alpha, beta and gamma carotenes, zeaxanthin and xanthophyll. You don’t need to remember these fancy names, but just remember that phytonutrients are nature’s marvelous provision for healing of various diseases.

Watercress:

Watercress is a leafy green vegetable with a peppery flavor and is often added to salads or used on top of sandwiches. It is a good source of beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that may prevent and manage arthritis, cataracts, and macular degeneration, as well as maintain healthy hair and skin. Watercress is also a good source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.

Dandalion: Folk medicine claims the dandelion plant is a powerful healer, used to purify the blood, settle digestion and prevent piles and gall stones, among other maladies. The fact is the greens of the humble dandelion provide 535 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which may be the most important source of any other plant-based food to strengthen bones, but may also play a role in fighting Alzheimer's disease by limiting neuron damage in the brain. Dandelion greens also give the body 112 percent of the daily minimum requirement of vitamin A as an antioxidant carotenoid, which is particularly good for the skin, mucus membranes and vision. A flavonoid called zeaxanthin protects the retina from UV rays, while others, primarily carotene, lutein, and cryptoxanthin, protect the body from lung and mouth cancers.  Dandelion greens are high in fiber, which helps your body shed waste. These greens also contain vitamins C and B6, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron (crucial for generating red blood cells), potassium (to help regulate heart rate and blood pressure), and manganese. Other nutrients present in dandelion greens include folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.

Other Favorites:

  • Arugula: Arugula (also known as rucola and rocket) is a cruciferous and leafy green vegetable with a peppery taste and is often used in salads. It is a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. Arugula may help boost memory due to phytochemicals — antioxidants found in all cruciferous vegetables. Like other salad greens, arugula is very low in calories, which makes it a great addition to any weight-loss plan.

  • Collard Greens: Collard greens are a cruciferous and leafy green vegetable from the cabbage family, similar to kale. They are a good source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant precursor to vitamin A that can help prevent and manage arthritis, cataracts, and macular degeneration, as well as maintain healthy hair and skin. Collard greens are also a very good source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures. In addition, collard greens contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that may prevent macular degeneration.

  • Endive: Endive is a bitter leafy vegetable that is often used in salads or eaten as a side dish. There are multiple varieties of endive, including Belgian endive, escarole, and curly endive (frisée). Like other greens, endive is very low in calories, which makes it a great addition to any weight-loss plan. Endive is a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. It is also a potent source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.
  • Escarole: Escarole is a leafy green vegetable that can be used in salads or eaten as a side dish. Like other salad greens, escarole is very low in calories, which makes it a great addition to any weight-loss plan. Escarole is a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. It is also a very good source of vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures. 

  • Lettuce: There are various types of lettuce, but all of them are leafy green vegetables and are low in calories, making them a terrific addition to any weight-loss plan. Some types of lettuce, such as romaine, green leaf, red leaf, bibb, and butterhead, are good sources of antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and quercetin, which help prevent arthritis, cataracts, and macular degeneration, as well as maintain healthy hair and skin. Lettuce is also a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. In addition, all lettuce varieties contain vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.

  • Mustard Greens: Mustard Greens are a leafy green vegetable that come from the mustard plant and have a pungent, peppery flavor. They are a good source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help prevent arthritis and maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. Mustard greens also contain folate, a B vitamin that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, enhance memory, and improve mood, as well as vitamin K, which may prevent bone fractures.

  • Radicchio: Radicchio is a leafy vegetable with a bitter taste. It is often added to salads or braised like cabbage for a side dish. It is a good source of potassium, a mineral involved in managing blood pressure and preventing osteoporosis. Radicchio also contains vitamin E and lutein, antioxidants that help maintain healthy eyes and skin.


  • Turnip Greens: Turnip greens are a leafy green vegetable that come from the tops of turnip bulbs and can be added to salads or sautéed and served as a side dish. They are a good source of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help prevent arthritis and maintain healthy eyes, hair, and skin. Turnip greens also contain folate, a B vitamin that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, enhance memory, and improve mood.



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