We hear it all the time: “Eat your greens.”
Green are associated with spring, the time of renewal, refreshment and vital energy. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity.
Green vegetables are the foods most commonly missing in modern diets. Learning to incorporate dark, leafy greens into the diet is essential to establishing a healthy body and immune system as well as to enhance the body’s natural detoxification capacity.
When you nourish yourself with greens, you are better able to naturally ‘crowd out’ the foods that make you sick and toxic. Although choosing organic is recommended, eating non-organic greens is still preferable to not eating any greens at all!
WHY SHOULD YOU GO GREEN?
- Greens are a rich source of chlorophyll, which acts as a detoxifier in the body. Chlorophyll also helps the blood to deliver oxygen to all the cells of the body as well as helping to neutralize free radicals that cause damage to cells and it is a natural deodorizer!
- Remember, the darker the greens, the higher the chlorophyll content, and to get the full benefit of the chlorophyll in greens, it’s best to eat them raw or very lightly cooked.
- Greens are alkalizing. The modern diet tends to lean more toward acid-forming foods like meat and carbohydrates, but in order to maintain health and balance, it’s important to keep your pH at a healthy level. Vegetables, particularly greens, help to do this. The alkaline minerals in your bodies are used to neutralizing acidic conditions caused by diet, lifestyle and environment. Green vegetables will help to replenish your alkaline mineral stores and continue to filter out pollutants. Your cells thrive in an alkaline environment.
- Greens are vitamin and mineral-rich and supply the body with calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins, including vitamins A, C, K, E and B as well ad loaded with fiber to keep you full and to help sweep out toxic material.
- Greens contain a variety of phytonutrients. These protect the body against free radical damage, stimulate detoxifying and digestive enzymes, support the immune system and provide antiviral and antibacterial protection.
- Dark, leafy greens contain essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for all body functions and protect against heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol.
- Greens are powerful antioxidants, which are known to protect the body from damage from free-radicals in the environment and the foods we eat. Antioxidants neutralize and clear them from the body.
Benefits of Dark Leafy Greens:
- Blood purifying
- Detoxification, especially for the liver
- Enhances Digestion and enzymatic action
- Low in calories, high in nutrition
- High water content, hydrating
- Neutralizes free-radicals
- Disease prevention
- Improved circulatory and respiratory systems
- Strengthened immune system
- Promotion of healthy intestinal flora
- Clears congestion, especially in lymphatics and lungs by reducing mucus
- Broccoli is truly a super food in terms of its nutritional power.
- Dandelion greens are an amazing source of iron, calcium, protein, fiber and vitamins A, B6, C, E and K. They are a bitter green and may be an acquired taste.
- Try Bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, arugula, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe and dandelions.
- Green cabbage is great cooked or raw, or can be eaten as sauerkraut.
- Spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens although packed with nutrients such as calcium, protein and vitamins A,B6,C,E, K and phytochemicals like beta-carotene, lutein, and folate are best eaten in moderation because they are high in *oxalic acid. Oxalic acid inhibits the absorption of the calcium these foods contain. However, rotating between a variety of green vegetables shouldn’t cause any nutritional consequences in regards to calcium.
*Oxalic acid-is a natural product found in spinach and some other plant foods. Concentrations of oxalic acid are pretty low in most plants and plant-based foods, but there’s enough in spinach, chard and beet greens to interfere with the absorption of the calcium these plants also contain. For example, although the calcium content of spinach is 115 mg per half cup cooked, because of the interference of oxalic acid, you would have to eat more than 16 cups of raw or more than eight cups of cooked spinach to get the amount of calcium available in one cup of yogurt.
- Immediately pick through your greens and rid the bunch of any bad leaves
- Keep your greens as dry as possible after rinsing
- You can wrap greens in a dry paper towel and keep them in a plastic bag or container in the fridge.
- You could also turn your bottom fridge drawers into a green basket by lining them with a clean kitchen towel
- To revive wilted greens try shocking them in ice cold water. A quick dip should perk them up
- Store your fruits and veggies separately as many fruits contain ethylene which causes fruits to ripen and greens to wilt
- Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble and are hence absorbed only in the presence of fat. So it’s really important when eating foods with these vitamins, that you pair it with olive or coconut oil, to enhance absorption.
- Try a variety of methods like steaming, boiling, lightly sautéing in oil. Boil for under a minute to retain all nutrients.
- Steaming greens makes them more fibrous which helps you feel fuller, longer.
- Raw salad are are detoxifying, alkalizing and contains a healthy dose of live enzymes.