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Health Benefits of Dark Leafy Greens.
When we think of nature, the color that comes to our mind is “Green.” Green is the color most associated with health and good aspects of life. But, most of us are reluctant to add green food groups to our diet.
Most of the young generation is under the influence of artificial flavors and junk food that surely satisfy their taste buds. However, consuming dark leafy greens is one of the best things we can do for our health.
What’s So Great about Dark Leafy Greens?
Rich in all kinds of vitamins minerals, high in fiber, and low in calories, these leafy greens are one of the superfoods that support four out of five forces:
How Different Leafy Vegs Help You?
Some of the healthiest and most tasty dark leafy greens are as follows:
- Kale- is considered one of the densest in nutrients because it contains calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, K, B6, and C. you can mix it with something sweet like a diced apple or dry fruits to balance its bitter taste.
- Arugula or Rocket Leaves- Pungent wispy leaves, also called rocket leaves, are nutrient-dense and include pro-vitamin A, carotenoids, and vitamin B9 & K. Rich in naturally occurring nitrates that convert into nitric oxide in the body.
- Spinach- This Powerpack leafy green is quite popular as it is rich in folate, vitamin A and C. We all have seen how Popeye, a famous cartoon character, eats spinach every time to fight the enemies.
- Romaine Lettuce-Darker romaine lettuce leaves are denser in nutrients than the lighter ones and contain folate and vitamin A & K. it has a crunchy texture and is 17 times richer in vitamin A than plain iceberg. Always wash leaves before eating to avoid germs.
- Cabbage- A cluster of thick green leaves and a rich source of vitamin C. It can be fermented and turned into sauerkraut for additional health benefits.
- Collard Greens- are considered a member of cabbage and kale due to similar texture. It has thick leaves that are a little bitter but are a good source of vitamin A, K, C, and B9.
- Turnip Greens- Found at the tops of turnip rich in A, C, K, and Calcium. These ones are quite spicy and intense in flavor, and they are fueled with different antioxidants.
- Iceberg Lettuce- This crunchy leafy green lettuce is often added to our burgers and salads. Despite being considered low in nutrients, it provides a sufficient amount of vitamin A and K, calcium, and potassium. Having high water content makes it an ideal choice for summers.
- Bok Choy- Also known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy has thick dark leaves and is a good source of selenium important for proper thyroid gland functionality.
- Beet Greens- Beets have been popular for ages, but most of the time, their leaves are ignored and wasted. However, they are edible and rich in potassium, fiber, calcium, riboflavin, and vitamins A and K. They are full of nutrients and contain antioxidants.
- Mustard Greens- these leafy greens are similar to turnip and collard greens. They are rich, dark, and have a strong flavor of mustard. Mix them with creamy sauces, sausages, and other cheesy dishes to lessen their pungent flavor.
Health Benefits of Dark Leafy Greens
Now, as we have mentioned, the best sources of leafy greens. To know more about the amazing benefits of eating dark leafy greens, continue to read.
1) Add Folate to Your Body
As mentioned above, most leafy greens are rich in folates like spinach, collards, and romaine lettuce. Most people are folate deficient, which can lead to several health issues. Leafy greens contain folate that is important for DNA and RNA synthesis and cell divisions, so you need to add leafy greens to your diet.
2) Helps to Maintain Your Heart Health
Dark leafy greens contain the hormone erythropoietin, which plays a key role in decreasing blood viscosity resulting in reduced blood clots and hence lowering the risk of a heart attack. They have natural nitrate that is converted into nitric oxide. It regulates blood pressure and helps to maintain good heart health.
3)Low in Calories
Another benefit of leafy greens is they are low in calories and dense in nutrients. This makes them a good option for those struggling to reduce weight healthily. Eating these leaf greens raw is very healthy. The nitrates in them help in converting fat-storing white cells into fat-burning brown cells.
4) Rich in Antioxidants
One of the best reasons to make leafy greens a part of your diet is their antioxidant properties. Most of the leafy greens, especially turnip greens, have several antioxidants like gluconasturtiin beta-carotene, quercetin, and glucotropaeolin. These antioxidants are known to reduce stress and lower the risk of inflammation.
5) Prevent Diabetes From Developing
We all know that glucose imbalance leads to diabetes and is quite common. Leafy greens are the natural remedy to prevent type-2 diabetes. Magnesium, ALA, polyphenols found in dark leafy greens play a vital role in managing glycemic load, enhancing insulin secretion, and providing insulin functions. In this way, these greens contribute to preventing diabetes from developing.
6) Good for Bone Health
Studies have shown that leafy greens have high levels of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K., All of these are responsible for making osteocalcin which is the bone builder. Hence for healthy bones, add these dark leafy greens to your diet.
7) Protect Against Certain Types of Cancer
To my surprise, these simple-looking leaves are miraculous and are dense in nutrients the human body needs for proper functioning. Most of these greens contain carotenoids, antioxidants, and flavonoids that neutralize the effect of cancer-causing toxins.
8) Makes Your Skin Glow
Beta-carotene is not only found in vegetables and fruits but also in leafy greens. This component is responsible for many health benefits of leafy greens as well as giving a youthful glow to your skin. Among all, kale is the top source of beta-carotene.
9) Support Gut Health
If you are struggling through leaky gut and food sensitivities, adding dark leafy greens to your diet is a huge relief! The high fiber content in leafy greens provides substrates for gut microbes that help indigestion. This natural fiber also enhances by-products that leave an impact on gut metabolic functionalities like PH balance, immune balance, and bowel movements.
10) Slow Down Age-Related Cognitive Decline
We now know their role in cancer protection, preventing diabetes, and controlling blood pressure. Not only these but nature has blessed us with these leafy greens that help slow down the cognitive decline, mainly decline in mental abilities. Studies have shown that adding one serving of leafy greens rich in folate, nitrate, and magnesium can slow the cognitive decline with age.
11) Build Enzymes
Enzymes are vital for the human body that help in the digestion of food and extract all the energy from it. Research has shown that raw food contains most of the active enzymes. When you make leafy greens a part of your diet in the form of salads or any other way, you are boosting your enzymes easily.
12)Provide Sun Protection
Most of the leafy greens have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to carotenoids in them. These carotenoids provide UV protection at a cellular level. So all those who love to sit in the sun can save themselves from UV rays by eating dark leafy greens.
What is More Beneficial Raw or Cooked?
Most of the time, we get confused about how to make these nutrient-dense greens part of our diet. What is more beneficial and healthy raw or cooked? And the answer is simple! All leafy greens are superfoods cooked or raw.
However, our body breaks the nutrients and absorbs the energy from cooked and raw leaves in a different way. Many research study has shown that minerals and vitamins like calcium, iron, and beta carotene found in most of the greens are absorbed in a better and easier way when consumed in cooked form.
Cooking leafy greens that contain vitamin B & C and antioxidants is not a good option. We suggest you change your mind; it’s better to eat them raw. These water-soluble nutrients can degrade with heat.
You can easily consume them by:
- Making salad
- Stir Fry
- Adding in soups
- In omelet
Take Away Tip
If you wish to live a healthy life with a low risk of heart diseases and cognitive decline, you must take these dark leafy greens seriously. All the dietitians recommend increasing food intake rich in minerals, fiber, and vitamins. Low carbohydrates, calories, and glycemic index are the most appealing benefits of dark leafy greens.
You can easily grow them in your garden and consume them in different ways. An easy and perfect way to have them is to make smoothies. Having said that, adding nuts to the smoothie will make it a nutrient-rich drink to start your day. Just make sure the leaves are crispy and green in color. The yellow and brown color shows they are losing flavor and freshness.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease and may not necessarily reflect opinion of this site.