Benefits of Eating Dark Leafy Greens
If you ask my kids they will tell you many things, but one thing I have always said since they were young has been:
“Eat your greens; they keep you healthy!”
Your body needs vegetables, and more importantly, your body needs those dark leafy greens to function optimally.
But what exactly do we need them for?
Let us have a peek into its potential constituents and their mighty benefits to “make and keep” your body full of health.
Benefits of Leafy Greens
For many of us, we know what we should do, but that doesn’t always mean we do it. Knowledge is power and when we can better understand the why beyond the request can we then make a better decision. Greens play a critical role in our body’s functions, if your body is not functioning optionally or even just OK, it may be time for a green tune-up.
Fight off the Oxidative Stress
Antioxidants are currently most abundant among their fellows and are so in trend. Their propensity to fight the harmful free-radicals in our bodies is formidable. They fight the oxidative stress that we encounter in our daily lives through our dietary habits, anxiety, and environmental influence, fights aging by preventing the cellular damage and improves the cell revamp or renewal process.
Dark leafy greens have an abundance of antioxidants (even more than in blueberries), called Flavonoids resting in their Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll also can normalize the production of R.B.C.s, absorb the toxins (e.g., foul breath or body odor), and even fight the carcinogens.
Takes Care of Your Gut Health
Dark leafy greens are rich in probiotics which are close friends to our gut flora. The microhabitat, which aids in digestion in our gut feeds on these probiotics. As 90 % of our diseases arise from poor digestion, they help in an overall improvement of health and boost our immune system by potential assimilation of vitamins, minerals, and other necessary nutrients. Get your greens in and improve your gut health with one of my favorite power green smoothie recipes.
Boost Immune System
Dark leafy greens like Spinach and Kale are rich sources of folate, iron, calcium, fiber, Vitamin C, and K. The study has shown their vital role in boosting immunity by creating chemical symbols to stimulate the growth of I.E.L. Cells that regulate our Humoral immunity.
Now some may argue that eating spinach isn’t good for you due to the oxalate found in these greens, my friend and colleague Karen Urbanek HHP argue the opposite: Don’t fear these greens, instead, you can reduce your oxalate levels by cooking and even boiling your veggies! This can reduce anywhere from 30 to 90% of the oxalate content.
Karen also says: “You can also take calcium citrate and magnesium citrate with every meal. Use bitters prior to eating or take B6 to stimulate digestive and enzyme production. If you feel Oxalates have been a major factor, consider getting an Organic Acids test done and read by a professional.” And if you think you are sensitive to oxalate there are dozens of other foods this can be found in, don’t blame spinach, it might be time for a gut overhaul.
Improve vision and Brain Function
Dark leafy greens are full of Phytonutrients like Carotenoids, Restravesol, Curcumin, etc. these phytonutrients have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which are beneficial for our vision and brain health. Phytonutrients are critical for the body because they enhance immunity, and during a time like COVID-19, we need all the help we can get to build immunity naturally. And part of that is ensuring you are getting the necessary nutrition you need from quality foods.
Dark leafy greens like Cilantro, Parsley, and coriander leaves are potent detoxifiers. They help the liver get rid of the toxins and prevent numerous diseases, while parsley is powerful enough to eliminate toxic metals from the bloodstream. May seem a bit odd, but try putting these herbs in your water. Don’t like the taste? Then add a little fresh squeezed lemon, or berries to your water for a refreshing drink. And remember fresh is best, dried herbs like the listed when dried have less nutritional value. But for those that travel, something is always better than nothing.
Dark leafy greens are abundant in the essential nutrients for your body. Many of them contain Beta-carotene, Vitamin C, K, B, lutein, and a small amount of Omega-3 fats. They are rich in minerals like:
Calcium – keeps your bones and teeth strong and healthy coordination of muscles and nerves.
Iron – Erythropoiesis (Red Blood Cell Production)
Potassium – Regulates fluid retention in the body and manages muscle contractions.
Copper – helps in the production of Collagen and absorbs Iron.
Magnesium – Aids the vital function of the body. Critical for muscle function.
Dark leafy greens are low in carbohydrates and rich in fiber. Fiber keeps your tummy full and limits unnecessary snacking, helping you manage and even lose your weight.
Health- Infusing Dark Leafy Greens
- Greens: Primary Functions
- Cabbage: Combats Anemia and Heart diseases
- Kale: Healthy vision and retinal function and aids blood clotting
- Mustard Greens: Prevents Arthritis and lowers LDL Cholesterol
- Spinach: Regulates Heart Rate and Blood Pressure, Combats free radicals
- Turnip Greens: Enhances collagen synthesis and Boosts Immune system
Many of us wonder as to how many greens we should eat.
Recommended Intake of Dark Leafy Greens
Nutrition experts recommend eating ½ a cup of Dark leafy greens daily. At the same time, USDA recommends eating 3 cups of dark leafy greens per week. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with dark leafy greens. And as my friend Karen Urbanek says: “You can’t get fat by eating vegetables”. So eat up. Experiment, try them in salads, saute, as a bed for lean protein, and you can even throw them into smoothies.
It may take time, you may need to steer your taste buds towards natural foods and re-learn to like them if all you have been eating is processed foods. And when in doubt, eat them because you know they are good for you. Your gut is your first brain, so feed it wisely.
Looking for more ways to improve your eating on the road?
Check out Mother Trucker Yoga’s blog all about on the go breakfast!