Leafy Greens Are Essential To Your Health
Only 25% of the people we talk to about food eat three or more servings of vegetables a day!
If you are in the majority who is not eating enough veggies, you are missing out big time on major benefits, as consuming fresh vegetables is one of the key cornerstones to optimal health.
Just doing more workouts is a waste of time if you are not getting your nutrition right.
Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else.
Plant chemicals called phytochemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA.
Studies have repeatedly shown that people with higher vegetable intake have:
Lower risks of stroke & type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease
Lower risks of certain types of cancer, eye diseases and digestive problems
Reduced risk of kidney stones and bone loss
Higher scores on cognitive tests
Higher antioxidant levels
Lower biomarkers for oxidative stress
Green vegetables are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease since they are high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. One study showed that an increment of one daily serving of green leafy vegetables, lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11 percent.
Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also valuable for persons with type 2 diabetes.
An increase of 1 serving/day of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of diabetes. The high level of vitamin K in greens makes them important for the production of osteocalcin, a protein essential for bone health.
The risk of hip fracture in middle-aged women was decreased 45% for one or more servings/day of green, leafy vegetables compared to fewer servings.
Green vegetables are also a major source of iron and calcium for any diet. Green leafy vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, which can also be converted into vitamin A, and also improve immune function. Millions of children around the world have an increased risk of blindness, and other illnesses because of inadequate dietary vitamin A from green leafy vegetables.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids found in dark-green leafy vegetables, are concentrated in the eye lens and macular region of the retina, and play a protective role in the eye. They protect against both cataract and age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of blindness in the elderly. Some studies suggest that lutein and zeaxanthin may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast and lung cancer, and may contribute to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.
Green veggies contain a variety of carotenoids, flavonoids and other powerful antioxidants that have cancer-protective properties.
In a Swedish study, it was reported that eating 3 or more servings a week of green leafy vegetables significantly reduced the risk of stomach cancer, the fourth most frequent cancer in the world.
Cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli are rich in indoles and isothiocyanates, which protect us against colon and other cancers.
Broccoli sprouts have been reported to contain 10 or more times as much sulforaphane, a cancer-protective substance, than does mature broccoli.
A higher consumption of green leafy vegetables has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer and skin cancer.
Can’t I just get these vitamins from supplements or multi vitamin tablets?
No! It does not work that way as much as it sounds so much easier just to swallow a tablet and still eat crap processed foods.
We must move beyond viewing each vitamin in isolation. Because we do not eat food that way, meaning we do not digest and use vitamins and minerals that way either!
The fat-soluble vitamins not only synergize with each other, but cooperate with many other nutrients and metabolic factors such as magnesium, zinc, fat, carbohydrate, carbon dioxide and thyroid hormone.
At the level of scientific research, a study about one vitamin can easily come to false conclusions unless it takes into account its interactions with all the others. We should recognize the complexity of these interactions, realizing how little we know and recognizing that we are always learning. So with regards to our personal health, these interactions emphasize the need to consume a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet. Supplementation with an individual vitamin runs the risk of throwing it out of balance with its synergistic partners. The fat-soluble vitamins work most safely and effectively when we obtain them from natural foods by eating a diet rich in quality and variety.
What About Weight Loss?
Nearly everyone would love to lose a few kilos and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that eating more vegetables can help significantly with this goal. Green vegetables compared to processed foods is no comparison in how much energy or calories between the two. Not that weight loss is about calorie counting. My point here is that can load up your body with a stack of vitamins and minerals without leaving your body with excess energy to be converted into fat. Your body will recognize these foods as essential and put them to good use. Processed foods however have little use and will predominately be stored as FAT! If you want to get in top shape eating a good variety of greens will get you off to a flying start!
Green, leafy vegetables provide a great variety of colors from the bluish-green of kale to the bright kelly green of spinach. Leafy greens run the whole gamut of flavors, from sweet to bitter, from peppery to earthy. Young plants generally have small, tender leaves and a mild flavor. Many mature plants have tougher leaves and stronger flavors. Collards, Swiss chard, bok choy, and spinach provide a mild flavor while arugula, mizuna and mustard greens provide a peppery flavor. Bok choy is best known for use in stir-fries, since it remains crisp, even when cooked to a tender stage.
Always choose crisp leaves with a fresh vibrant green color. Yellowing is a sign of age and indicates that the greens may have an off flavor. Salad greens provide a whole range of important nutrients and phytochemicals to keep us healthy.
What If You Don’t Like The Taste?
Well there is many ways to get around this one. For starters you could try juicing. Vegetable juicing is one of the fastest ways to get a lot more of the key vegetables straight into your system. Just make sure you don’t juice too many fruits.
Another way to get more into your diet is by eating more stir frys or finding ways to mix it into meals that are normally lacking these ingredients. For example you could add some spinach or broccoli to your mushroom risotto or even a pasta dish. Don’t forget to use spices to flavour it up even more. And if you are still struggling go to Wild Oak and do some of Ben’s cooking classes and he will show you a thousand ways to use plants in your meals.
Well I hope this article sheds some light as to the amazing benefits of eating your greens. As I said at the beginning only 1 in every 4 people we meet eats enough of these amazing foods. Without them you are setting yourself up for failure with your health and fitness goals and potentially a chronic disease! So please start getting more on your plate more often today!