How To Get More Greens Into Your Daily Routine

The Importance of Eating Your Greens

greensWhen you think about a healthy power food, think green leafy vegetables.  Green foods are packed with nutrients and should be an essential part of your diet. They are one of the most robust and filling choices you can make for a healthy diet.

Green vegetables have a multitude of antioxidants, vitamins (such as vitamins A, C, and K and folate) and minerals (such as iron calcium, potassium and magnesium). They are also an excellent source of fiber. Some of their disease-fighting compounds are difficult to get anywhere else in the same concentrations. These disease-fighting compounds, called phytochemicals (lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene), reduce inflammation and carcinogens, regulate the rate of cell reproduction, clear away deteriorated cells and preserves DNA. The power of green can revitalize one’s health as green foods help with glucose levels. They are packed with fiber and water; they help to regulate your blood sugar levels throughout the day.

People that consume more significant quantities of green leafy vegetables show a lower incidence of  stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, eye diseases, digestive problems, lower biomarkers for oxidative stress, reduced risk of kidney stones and bone loss, higher antioxidant levels and higher scores on cognitive tests.

When people think about green leafy vegetables, many people think about Romaine or Iceberg lettuce. However, when you wander through a farmers market, you will find a myriad of other greens that come in a  variety of flavours and textures. Greens are not just for salads they can be added to smoothies, soups, sauces, sandwiches, wraps, dips, casseroles, stir fry amongst other tasty dishes.

What Are Some Examples of Greens and How Do They Taste?

Arugula has a black pepper flavor with a hint of nuts or mustard taste and is abundant in vitamins A, C, and calcium. Arugula is delicious raw in salads, sandwiches, or wraps and can also be used in cooking such as on pizza or added to stir fry, soups, and pasta sauces.

Broccoli has soft, fluffy florets and crunchy, hard stalks, it tastes like cabbage which can have a bitterness to it because of a compound called allylglucosinolate . It is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and fiber. Broccoli is eaten raw, steamed, sautéed, or added to a casserole or soup or stir fry.

Collard Greens have a mild but bitter taste and are rich in vitamins A, C and K, folate, fiber, and calcium. They have a  thick, chewy texture which means they may require a longer cooking time. The best way to prepare them is to boil them briefly and then add to a soup or stir-fry. You can also eat collard greens as a side dish.

Dandelion Greens have an earthy, nutty and pleasantly bitter flavor and they are rich in vitamin A and calcium. They are best when steamed or eaten raw in salad.

Kale has a slightly bitter, cabbage flavor and is rich in vitamins A, C and K. Kale is tasty when added to soups, stir-fries, smoothies and sauces. Due to their more firm, fibrous texture many people “massage” them before consuming or add the dressing several hours before serving to soften the leaves.

Mustard Greens have a distinct peppery taste with a slight spicy accent and are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, and calcium. They are delicious when eaten raw in salads, added to dips or in stir fry, made into delicious spicy sides and soups.

Romaine Lettuce is a nutrient-rich lettuce with a sweet, mild flavor and a soft, tender texture. Romaine is high in vitamins A, C, and K, and folate. It’s best when eaten raw in salads, sandwiches or wraps.

Spinach has an insoluble form of oxalic acid, which forms crystals that stick onto your teeth as you chew on it. These crystals give that gritty, tannic feeling in your mouth and also give what some people characterize as a bitter taste to spinach. and is rich in vitamins A and K, folate, and iron. Spinach tastes great eaten raw in salads, steamed, or sautéed. Try adding spinach to an omelet.

Swiss Chard tastes very similar to spinach. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, and iron. It’s best stir-fried, added to sauces, or eaten raw in salads.

I Know They Are Good For Me But I Just Can’t Eat Them

Sometimes try as we might … We just can’t manage to eat a food to which we have a mental aversion. Due to their bitter undertones, many people don’t enjoy many of the different types of greens. There are many ways to get around this particular distaste!

Blanching helps to leach out some of the bitterness and works best with hardier greens. Having a strong contrasting flavour will temper the bitterness and help balance the dish out. Acids, like vinegar and citrus juice, help to brighten up bitter greens and provide a light contrasting flavour. Mellow the bitter flavour with a sprinkle of salt on endive or radicchio, or include anchovies or cured meat (like bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto) along with mustard, beet, or collard greens. Braising will cut the bitterness, and will also soften the otherwise tough leaves.

More Time Efficient Ways to Get Your Greens?

One easy way to add more greens into your diet is to just toss them into a blender with the rest of your smoothie ingredients, blend and you have a nutritious meal on the go! You may want to remove some of the stems on the tougher greens. You can even swap in rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or any non-dairy alternative in each of these easy smoothies recipes to make them vegan.

Fresh pre-made green juices are made with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that have been extracted most commonly by cold pressing. Juicing has become a convenient way to consume the healthy components of greens in large quantities very quickly.

Green Supplement Powders

Both greens supplements or green juices can play a beneficial role in your dietary intake of green vegetables and fruits. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2008, 5:20doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-20) suggests that greens supplements can be an efficient way to tip the urinary pH in your body to an optimal alkaline balance.

Greens supplements are the powdered fruits, vegetables, and herbs that have been either freeze- or light-dried. The light drying process seems to be preferable to freeze-drying (if you have the choice), as the freezing process can diminish the content of vitamins like pantothenic acid and folic acid. Green powders are mostly calorie-free or very low-calorie. Plus, their ease of use and portability make them a good option for people who travel a lot and have trouble getting in many servings of fruits and vegetables when on the road. While they are a significant way to boost your greens, don’t expect either to make or break your weight-loss or wellness efforts.

You certainly don’t need a greens supplement, especially if you’re consistently getting at least five servings of whole veggies and fruits per day. But if you’re having a little trouble following your new habit, especially if you’re traveling or finding fresh stuff hard to get, a good greens supplement can help fill in the gaps.

Whole Food is Still the Best

Whole foods are complete with all their rich natural endowment of nutrients. They have not been highly processed nor do they contain synthetic, artificial or irradiated ingredients. Wherever possible stick with the whole green leafy vegetables and keep the supplements for days that you are not able to get all of your fruits and vegetables in your meal!

Learn More About Nutrition

The Principles of Sports Nutrition (PSN) will teach 110 fundamental sports nutrition principles essential to achieving and maintaining optimum health, performance and longevity. This 24- hour online Sports Nutrition Course is  ideal for all individuals with an interest in anti-aging, dietary analysis, health and fitness management.

References:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/08/eating-sprouts.aspx

https://youngwomenshealth.org/2012/12/10/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/

https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-5-20

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/ie-greens-supps-results

Sports Nutrition Program

This Sports Nutrition Course, (Principles of Sports Nutrition PSN) will teach 110 fundamental sports nutrition principles essential to achieving and maintaining optimum health, performance and longevity.

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