”Virginia, what do you know about the benefits of leafy greens? This week's article discusses the benefits of dark leafy greens and offers suggestions on how to incorporate more of them into your diet.
Reading time: 3 Minutes
- Which nutrients are present in dark leafy greens
- How to prevent disease by supplementing your diet with these greens
- Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are rich in folate, lutein, and nitrate.
- Dark leafy greens have more nutrients compared to lighter green vegetables, such as lettuce.
- It can be easy to incorporate dark vegetables by putting a handful of spinach on your handburger or cooking them in a dish you already enjoy.
It probably isn’t news that eating a diet rich in leafy green vegetables is good for you, but do you know why? Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are incredibly nutrient dense as compared to lighter leaves like iceberg lettuce or cabbage. These dark green vegetables are a relatively inexpensive way to incorporate a rich vitamin complex into your diet without drastically changing your eating habits.
Leafy greens are rich in folate, lutein, and nitrate. Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, is found in most foods that are part of a healthy diet. It is responsible for cell production and the methylation of DNA. Folate is naturally occurring in most foods, but people that are at most risk for folate deficiencies are those with chronic anemia or alcohol dependence. These risk factors should warrant supplementation to assist in the production of healthy blood cells. Lutein is a carotenoid that is found in high concentrations among leafy green vegetables. It is incredibly useful for protection against macular degeneration in your eyes and can significantly reduce your risk of age-related vision loss. Nitrate is a salt that is found in high concentrations among leafy green vegetables. Previous studies have shown that high concentrations of nitrate have adverse health effects; However, dietary nitrate is actually metabolized by bacteria in our mouths to produce nitrites that help in reducing blood pressure.
“Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are incredibly nutrient dense as compared to lighter leaves like iceberg lettuce or cabbage.”
The ideal daily diet would be entirely composed of lean proteins and dark vegetables, but realistically you can make small changes to your current diet that will still give you some drastic health benefits. One way to incorporate dark leafy greens into your meals is to cook them into something that you already enjoy, even if it isn’t the healthiest food option out there. Spinach is one of the best tasting leafy greens, so this can be a great introduction of nutrients into an otherwise unhealthy meal. For example, you can top your hamburger with a handful of spinach instead of iceberg lettuce and still dress it up with your normal condiments. Small steps like this may eventually lead you to trying a black bean patty instead to take your well being to the next level. Having eggs in the morning? Stir up some spinach with garlic and you have yourself a doubly nutritious breakfast. If you get creative, it is possible to incorporate leafy greens into almost any meal you have during the day.
MWi would like to thank the following sources for this article:
Alam, M. (2017). Eat your vegetables: Nutrients in leafy greens may help prevent dementia. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/eat- vegetables-nutrients-leafy-greens-prevent-dementia/story?id=51904727
Brkić, D., Bošnir, J., Bevardi, M., Bošković, A. G., Miloš, S., Lasić, D., … Trstenjak, N. U. (2017). NITRATE IN LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES AND ESTIMATED INTAKE. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines, 14(3), 31–41. http://doi.org/10.21010/ajtcam.v14i3.4
(2010). Folic Acid. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/monograph/folic-acid.html
(2013). NIH study provides clarity on supplements for protection against blinding eye disease. US National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Retrieved from https://nei.nih.gov/news/pressreleases/ 050513