Crammed with vital nutrients for every body, greens just might be the healthiest food our planet has to offer!
Popeye wasn't just a man with muscles. He was a man with brains, too. He knew the power of leafy greens could get him out of a jam in a flash. (Okay, he was just a cartoon character... but you get the idea!)
Going Green - A Whole New Meaning
Leafy green vegetables rule the roost in the vegetable kingdom. Nothing against rutabagas or cucumbers, but leafy greens have the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. 1 That's enough to make any vegetable feel superior!
The Power of Green
Just check in with a bowl of greens and you'll find they are brimming with vital nutrients that provide a variety of health, growth and fertility benefits.
Your Liver's Favorite Color is Green
Livers love greens because they're amazing detoxifiers. If you want to cleanse your liver, eat your greens!
A Lean, Mean, Green Machine
Just to give you an idea of how important they are to include in our diets at every meal, this is a sample of what you can expect with every bite of green goodness:
- Fiber - A leader in blood sugar regulation, blood cholesterol regulation and bowel function.
- Protein - Perfect for vegetarians! Who wouldn't rather have a side of escarole than a tofu cutlet?
- Calcium - That's right, leafy greens are an excellent source of calcium. Cows will rejoice everywhere!
- Vitamin A - Better to see you with, my dear. Vitamin A is essential for vision and bone growth.
- B Vitamins - Vital for human health and nourishes the nervous system.
- Vitamin C - Powerful antioxidants to supercharge the immune system. Great for strong muscles, bones and skin, too!
- Vitamin K - Just what you're looking for to help support the healing process. Leafy greens are your best source of vitamin K1 but vitamin K2 is synthesized in your gut by microflora. So eat greens and a probiotic diet together for both forms.
- Iron - Fit for a strongman, this mineral aids in immune function, cognitive development, temperature regulation, energy metabolism and work performance.
- Chlorophyll - Scan through your notes from your third grade science class and you'll be reminded that chlorophyll is what makes leaves green. Chlorophyll provides oxygen that's necessary for the healthy bacteria in your gut to grow and flourish. Go chlorophyll!
Experts Agree, Green is the Color for All Seasons!
Much research has been done on the benefits of greens. Take a look at what has been found when greens are put to the test:
- Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that individuals who eat leafy greens had a 23% reduction in coronary heart disease.2
- Scientists found that a diet rich in leafy green vegetables actually showed a significant reduction in the chance of developing colon cancer.3
- Research shows that folate, one of the impressive B Vitamins in greens, may protect against cognitive decline in older adults .4
- Studies found that caratenoids (powerful antioxidants) in green leafy vegetables can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, skin cancer cells, lung cancer and stomach cancer.5Doesn't it make you want to have a plateful of broccoli rabe right now?
- Another study showed that women who ate the most leafy greens had half the risk of ovarian cancer compared to those who ate the least.6 Half!! Pile them on!
The Greener the Leaf, the Greater the Good
The darker the green in edible plants, the more nutrients they hold. Choose those that are lusciously deep in color and mix them with a variety of shades, textures and tastes for the perfect balance of vitamins and minerals.
Go Ahead, Eat Them - Nature Will Make More
A steamy bowl of greens sautéed in coconut oil with a little garlic and Celtic sea salt is the perfect complement to a healthy lunch.
And if you're like most people, dinner isn't really dinner without a leafy green salad on your plate.
And now for what you've all been waiting for...
The Ten "Must-Have" Healthiest Greens for Every Nutritional Wardrobe
- Collards - These fan-like greens stand out as a nutritional superstar. Their vitamin K, A, C and magnesium levels are off the charts and their folate, calcium and dietary fiber content is nothing to sneeze at. 7
Dinosaurs must have been gnawing on collard greens because they date back all the way to prehistoric times. They're one of the oldest members of the cabbage family and a close cousin to the curly-headed relative, Kale. 8
Known as a time-honored tradition in southern kitchens, collards are held in high regard as the green of choice and are at their best between January and April!
- Kale - Flat or curly, this vegetable is considered to be one of the most highly nutritious vegetables, with super strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 9
Central and northern Europe as well as North America seem to be the breeding grounds for kale. On a quest for something bigger and better, kale is actually the result of man's artificial selection for enlargement of leaves in the wild mustard plant. 10
- Spinach - The incredible shrinking vegetable! If you've ever prepared spinach, you know that the volume is decreased by three quarters when cooked.
But that's OK, spinach is loaded with enough vitamin C and fiber to survive the loss and make it worth every bite! While spinach is a good source of calcium it also contains oxalic acid that reduces intake of dietary calcium.
Despite a popular misconception, spinach has only slightly more iron than most other vegetables.
The mega-iron myth first began in 1870 when Dr. E. von Wolf misplaced a decimal point in his publication which led to an iron content figure that was ten times too high. Although investigated in 1937 by the Germans, the rumor remained strong for decades (thanks to a pipe-smoking sailor man).
- Chard - Packed with nutrients, chard is one of the most powerful anti-cancer foods due to its combination of traditional nutrients; phytochemicals, chlorophyll, other plant pigments and soluble fiber. 11
Folks in the US love the veiny leaves for cooking while European chefs save the stalks and toss the leaves. Slightly bitter, the fresh young leaves can be steamed, sautéed or used raw in salads. (See note at end of article about the oxalic acid in chard.)
A visual knock-out in your grocer's produce section, chard is found in green forms as well as red-ribbed such as Ruby Chard, Rhubarb Chard and the always exquisite Rainbow Chard.
- Mustard - Also known as leaf mustard, Brassica Juncea and Indian mustard, mustard greens have a distinct horseradish-mustard flavor. In fact, the brown mustard we all grew up on is made from mustard greens.
Mustard greens are particularly beneficial for women going through menopause. They're a no-nonsense vegetable that can protect against cancer and heart disease and also support bone health.
A little on the pungent side, mustard greens are typically mixed with other milder greens and are a favorite in soul food, Chinese and Japanese cuisines.12
- Broccoli Raab - Oh, that broccoli raab is such a trickster. Despite its name, look and taste, broccoli raab has nothing to do with broccoli. It's really in the turnip family.
Loved by Italian and Chinese cooks, broccoli raab, also known as rapini, is a great source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium. 13
A little on the bitter side with a rich, nutty flavor, broccoli raab can be an acquired taste. But once it's acquired, watch out! It can be positively addictive.
- Dandelion Greens - Without a doubt, this leafy vegetable is one of the most nutritious foods you can pick.
Dandelions support digestion, reduce swelling and inflammation, and treat jaundice, edema, gout, eczema and acne.
A close cousin to the sunflower, dandelions can create the perfect spring tonic with their liver cleansing properties. Also known as a good laxative and diuretic, it's French name, pissenlit (wet the bed), tells all. 14
Find a field free of pesticides and forage away for a delicious salad or stir fry. A bit on the bitter side but tasty as can be with a little olive oil and lemon.
- Watercress - Yet another member of the cabbage family that's doing amazing things with its vitamins B6, C, magnesium and carotene.
Watercress is a fast-growing, aquatic or semi-aquatic perennial and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans. It has a significant amount of folic acid and acts as a great digestive aid.
With a perk-you-up peppery flavor, watercress is found on a lot of salad bars these days, but is best known for the cute little sandwiches served at ladies' teas.
- Bok Choy - Bok choy is also considered a cabbage, although you would never know it based on its long stalks and slender leaves.
High in vitamins A, C and calcium, bok choy is high in nutrients but low in calories.15 They make a beautiful presentation on any plate and are yummy in salads (but blanch and chill the bok choy first), stir-fries and soups. Bok Choy can be fermented like any other cabbage and is the main ingredient in Chinese Kim Chi.
Cultivated in China since ancient times, bok choy is a favorite for its light, sweet flavor and crisp texture. Young, baby bok choy lightly sautéed and seasoned with a few shakes of shoyu just might be the most delicious food known to man.
- Chicory - This crunchy salad green can be divided into five groups: radicchio, sugar loaf, large leaf, cutting leaf and Belgian endive. The curly types are the most cultivated and often seen in a salad bowl.
Rich in potassium, iron, beta carotene, vitamins A and B, chicory has more calcium than even kale and collards. This is the green for anyone who is looking for more calcium in their life.
First introduced to England, Germany, Holland and France in the 13 century, the French used it primarily for medicinal purposes to "comfort the weake and feeble stomack and to help gouty limbs and sore eyes".16
- Seaweed - What, did you think we were only covering leafy vegetables that grew on land?
Seaweed, or sea vegetables if you want them to sound more dignified, is incredibly nutritious and provides many minerals (most notably from iron), a good supply of protein and fiber as well as vitamins A, B6 and C.
Basically, sea vegetables are algae and are used in a number of processed foods as stabilizers and thickeners, not to mention a closet full of beauty products. 17
Because of the staggeringly strong nutritional value of sea veggies, Donna Gates, author of the Body Ecology Diet recommends eating them each and every day. There are a number of species, each with slightly different tastes and characteristics and are great additions to soups and salads, or sautéed with other vegetables.
Not everyone loves the taste or texture of sea vegetables, though, or has the time to create flavorful recipes. Our Body Ecology Ocean Plant Extract is a concentrated supplement that offers all of the valuable nutrients in sea vegetables without any preparation time needed.
- Cereal Grass - We really couldn't end this list without at least mentioning healthy grasses. Known as one of the healthiest foods on earth, healthy grass is supersonic fuel for your body.
To learn more about this miracle food, check out the Body Ecology article at http://bodyecology.com/articles/healthiest_grasses.php
Don't Go It Alone!
To get the most of out of your healthy greens, be sure to eat them with cultured foods such as raw cultured vegetables or young coconut kefir. Both pump the gut with friendly bacteria that is necessary for your body to get optimal performance out of B Vitamins and Vitamin K.
Pot Likker (or Liquor) is Quicker
A tradition all the way from Africa, pot likker is the juice from greens that have been cooked and saved at the bottom of the pot that is perfect to drink for a quick, super recharge. Don't throw those precious minerals away!
But VITALITY SuperGreen Has It ALL!
Body Ecology's VITALITY SuperGreen is a robust blend of mega-nutritious whole foods designed specifically to balance, heal and revitalize your body, with a special emphasis on nourishing your digestive tract.
Get all the vital nutrients of greens plus so much more with Vitality SuperGreen.
With all the benefits greens have to offer, Vitality SuperGreen is a smart and convenient way to include green goodness in your diet any time of day.
In addition to all of the vitamins and minerals found in leafy greens, Vitality SuperGreen is an outstanding source of complete, easily assimilated protein, enzymes, essential fatty acids, nucleic acids, and microflora, critical for a healthy inner ecosystem.
Our delicious formulation includes:
- Fermented Greens (kale, parsley and spinach)
- Fermented Algae
- Fermented Soy Lecithin
Clearing Up Some of the Confusion around Green Veggies and Oxalates
Some greens like parsley, spinach and chard contain a significant source of calcium and also have a high oxalate content. Because about 80% of kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate there is both concern and controversy over eating these greens.
Is their oxalate content too high for some people? And should they be cooked or not?
Repeated food chemistry studies have shown no statistically significant lowering of oxalate content when green leafy vegetables are blanched or boiled. However, some green foods like collards and kale are difficult to digest and cooking breaks down cell walls so we can absorb the nutrients.
It is interesting to note, however, that black tea thought to increase stone formation because of oxalates actually appears in more recent research to have a preventative effect. So sorry, but we probably haven't cleared the confusion at all since the science around this subject is still remains unclear.
(1) Arts & Leisure, http://weeklywire.com/ww/10_25_99/alibi_veggies.html
(4) Science Daily, "Green Leafy Vegetables May Help Keep Brains Sharp", http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050926082256.htm
(5) American Institute for Cancer Research, "Foods that Fight Cancer", http://www.aicr.org/site/pageserver?pagename=dc_foods_greens
(6) American Institute for Cancer Research, "Foods that Fight Cancer", http://www.aicr.org/site/pageserver?pagename=dc_foods_greens
(7) The World's Healthiest Foods, http://www.whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=138
(8) Collard Greens (mess o' greens) History and Recipe of Collard Greens, http://whatscookingamerica.net/Vegetables/CollardGreens.htm
(9) Dr D.G.Hessayon (2003) The Vegetable & Herb Expert, Expert Books, ISBN 0-903505-46-0
(12) Brassicajuncea, Wikipedida, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassica_juncea
(14) Rebecca Wood - The Kitchen Dakini, Healing with Food, http://www.rwood.com/Articles/Dandelion_Greens.htm
(17) National Geographic, The Green Guide, http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/97/seaweed