Ask any nutritionist about the most important aspects of healthy eating and you’ll definitely hear dark green leafy vegetables mentioned. Kale, collard greens, turnip greens, Swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, cabbage and lettuce are all readily available at any supermarket, but what exactly makes these veggies so good for us? Here’s a look at why dark green leafy veggies should be mainstays of your family’s healthy lifestyle.
Great sources of nutrition
First and foremost, dark green leafy vegetables are full of all kinds of vitamins and nutrients. Salad greens, kale and spinach are chock-full of vitamins A, C, E and K, which have several functions:
- Vitamin A contributes to healthy bones, teeth, mucous membranes and skin, and it even helps promote good vision.
- Vitamin C aids in the formation of collagen, which helps maintain skin, teeth, gums, tendons and ligaments. It also helps wounds heal faster and strengthens the immune system.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells and tissues from dangerous free radicals.
- Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and strengthening bones.
Greens like kale even provide good sources of calcium and potassium, which are crucial for healthy bones and teeth as well as properly functioning organs.
Meanwhile, broccoli, bok choy and mustard greens also provide certain B-vitamins, like folate (B9) and riboflavin (B2). Folate aids in the production of red blood cells, DNA and proteins in the body, while riboflavin is vital for growth and helps us get energy from the food we eat.
Dark green leafy vegetables have a high amount of antioxidants, which makes them some of the best foods for preventing cancer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, studies have shown that eating two or three servings of dark green leafy vegetables each week can lower the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer. The same antioxidants have also been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease.
Low-carb, low-calorie, high-fiber
With low calorie and carbohydrate counts and a good amount of fiber, dark green leafy vegetables are a great way to maintain a healthy weight and regulate the digestive system. Fiber also contributes to healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Eat these leafy veggies raw in salads, or cook them as a great side dish or addition to any meal. Either way, you’ll get all of the nutritional benefits.