Adopting a green mentality will raise your level of nutrition during March’s National Nutrition Month.
We’re talking leafy greens here – the stuff your mom always told you that you needed to eat more of.
“Greens are nutritional powerhouses,” says South Florida-based, board-certified health and nutrition coach Alina Zhukovskaya. “They are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K. They also have loads of fiber, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc.”
In other words, they’re superfoods. (But one note of caution: If you’re on any blood-thinning medication, be sure to consult with your physician first because consumption of greens may affect your reaction to that medication.) Recently, the CDC “rated” leafy greens based on the nutritional punches they pack. Here are some of the agency’s top picks:
1. Watercress Forget those anti-aging skin regimens – consuming copious amounts of watercress will do the trick. Gram for gram, there’s more beta carotene in watercress than there is in an apple, as well as nearly three times your recommended daily amount of vitamin K. Watercress also contains a substance called “phenylethyl isothiocyanate” that recent studies suggest could help prevent cancer.
2. Chinese cabbage Also known as celery cabbage, these crunchy greens are chock-full of calcium and iron. But perhaps their greatest health benefit is that they’re known to limit inflammation – which is the first step in preventing any and all age-related diseases (or “inflammaging,” as it’s been coined by anti-aging physician Dr. Brett Osborn).
3. Chard Full of numerous antioxidants that help combat type 2 diabetes, cooked chard is not only delicious, but studies show that those who eat it regularly tend to have optimal glucose regulation. However, Zhukovskaya sounds one note of caution with chard: “It contains oxalic acid. This particular acid can deplete calcium from bones and teeth, which may lead to osteoporosis.” Thus, she recommends always cooking it, because “this will help balance the effect of the oxalic acid.”
4. Spinach Sure, we all know about Popeye’s fondness for the stuff – but there was good reason he was such a fan: Namely, spinach is about the most iron-dense food around. A single boiled serving (about 200 grams) will provide more iron than you’ll get in a 6-ounce hamburger. And, according to EatThis.com, the thylakoids contained in spinach may have appetite-suppressing properties.
5. Parsley These little green sprigs have the potential to be so much more than mere garnishes (and ones you often ignored at that!). Not only does a tiny amount provide you with most of your daily recommended vitamin K, but, as Zhukovskaya explains, “Parsley supports your kidneys and their ability to help you detoxify from heavy metals, like those found in animal protein and tuna.”