Go Green Foods
By: Pam Smith, RDN
As our outdoor world starts to turn that lovely shade of spring green - consider “going green,” not only as an environment saving commitment, but as a life saving action as well: add more green foods to your diet!
Green foods across the board “do a body good” in terms of their vitamin, mineral, water and antioxidant content; the benefits of incorporating more of them into your diet abound! In addition, fruits and vegetables offer great taste and powerful disease-fighting phytochemicals and fiber. The key is variety - the more varied and intense the colors, the higher and more varied your nutrient intake.
Here are Seven Tips for “Eating Green” for Health:
Green vegetables are loaded with Vitamin K - great for bone health. While vitamin K isn’t a substitute for a good source of calcium, eating green vegetables high in vitamin K is a help. In addition, Vitamin K has been shown to be good for healthy arteries - new research indicates that arterial calcification and resulting decreased arterial elasticity can be reversed by consuming high levels of vitamin K. Choose vegetables like asparagus, spinach, kale, turnip, collard and mustard greens, broccoli, cabbage, endive and Brussels sprouts.
More Broccoli, Please!
Broccoli provides many health benefits, including both soluble and insoluble fiber; vitamins A, C and E (important antioxidants for staving off cellular damage from free-radicals), vitamin K, and special antioxidants called sulforaphane and indoles, known for their powerful anticancer properties. Research shows the cancer-fighting abilities of sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli reduce the risk of cancer of the bowel, stomach, breast, lungs and kidneys.
Vary your Leafy Greens.
Dark leafy greens come in varying shades of green. The lighter the green (think iceberg lettuce), the less vitamins and minerals they contain. The darker the green (think romaine or spinach), the higher the concentration of vitamins and minerals they contain, such as A, C and folate, which is good for preventing birth defects. Spinach, a dark leafy green, contains lutein which is good for eye health. Collard greens also contain sulforaphane and beta carotene.
Choose Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
This rich green olive “fruit juice” is simply an elixir of health; known for its head-to-toe body protective properties. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, which works to lower your LDL cholesterol, while raising the good HDL cholesterol. It’s also high in essential fatty acids and Vitamin E. Avocados have similar beneficial nutritional qualities. Consider tossing dark leafy greens with olive oil, a touch of balsamic and avocado for a one-two-three punch of health!
Catch some Kiwifruit.
If you’re used to grabbing an orange to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin C, consider eating a kiwi instead. It contains even more vitamin C than oranges - and they’re a great source of dietary fiber.
Snack on Green Apples.
Green apples offer about the same benefits as red or yellow apples, and they are a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber, which aid in digestion and heart health. Combine a tart Granny Smith with a slice of lowfat cheese and you have a great power snack!
Try Green Tea.
If you drink tea, consider choosing green tea instead of black, oolong or other darker teas. Green tea - next to white tea - packs the biggest punch when it comes to antioxidants. It also contains flavonoids, a class of naturally occurring plant compounds that have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-cancer and immune-system regulating effects - and particularly heart and brain protective. If you drink more than one or two cups of coffee a day - consider replacing one of those cups with green tea.
The bottom line - you can’t get too much green in your diet - nor too many fruits and veggies!