I love green smoothies and they wouldn’t truly be green without dark leafy greens. Boasting numerous health benefits, vitamins, minerals, and weight-loss properties, dark, leafy greens are among the healthiest foods you can eat. In fact, if you eat them regularly, you will improve your overall health and have less chance of developing certain diseases. Health-infusing greens include kale, turnip greens, collards, spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, certain types of lettuce, and cabbage.
In addition to eating a balanced diet, you should strive to consume dark, leafy greens whenever possible to enjoy the following benefits:
- Weight Management – High in fiber, low in carbohydrates, leafy greens are among the most filling foods you can eat. Due to their high fiber content, greens digest slowly, causing you to feel fuller longer. Bottom line: Eating more greens will cause you to eat smaller amounts of other types of foods, which will help you lose weight or maintain your current weight.
- Cuts Health Risks – Leafy greens lower the risk of some diseases including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and cancer. Since they are rich in calcium, leafy greens are also credited with reducing the occurrence of osteoporosis. There is evidence that skin problems might also benefit from dark, leafy green consumption as greens are full of water and antioxidants.
- Health Benefits – Eating leafy greens also poses many health benefits. Health benefits include blood clotting regulation, reducing calcium in arterial plaques, reduce inflammation, and improved memory and eye sight. The fiber content in leafy greens also keeps the colon healthy and in proper working order.
- Nutrition – Greens are rich in the vitamins and minerals your body needs to remain healthy. For example, many leafy greens contain beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Greens also contain folate, vitamin C, calcium, fiber, vitamin K, B vitamins, lutein, and small amounts of Omega-3 fats depending on the green.
- Natural Antioxidant – Antioxidants help fight aging by preventing cell damage and improving cell renewal processes. All of this helps the body repair itself, renew itself, and grow older more gracefully. Antioxidants and vitamin C also help improve the appearance of the skin and ward off signs of aging such as sun spots, wrinkles, and sallow complexion.
So, how many greens should you eat? While the USDA recommends eating at least 3 cups of dark, leafy greens per week, this represents the minimum amount of greens you should be eating. Most nutrition experts recommend eating ½-cup of green leafy vegetables daily.
Since leafy greens are low-calorie and chock full of nutrition, you should strive to include them into your diet daily (green smoothies are a great way to do this). To cut the monotony, try to eat a variety of greens. You will be surprised by how often you can work leafy greens into your meal planning while maintaining a varied diet.