- 1 History
- 2 Nutritional benefits of leafy greens
- 3 Anti-oxidant properties and minerals
- 4 Low glycemic load of leafy greens
- 5 Vitamin K and leafy greens
- 6 List of leaf vegetables
There is evidence that humans have consumed leafy greens for a long time, even in the prehistoric times. When the first Africans arrived in North America in the early 1600. Over the years, cooked greens developed into a traditional African American food which later became essential in Southern regional diets and are now enjoyed nationwide.
Nutritional benefits of leafy greens
Dark green leafy vegetables also known as salad greens such as kale and spinach are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K. Some of the other green vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy and mustard are also rich in many of the B-vitamins.
Anti-oxidant properties and minerals
The leafy greens and green vegetables also are rich sources of carotenoids-antioxidants that protect cells and play roles preventing cancer development with their anti-oxidant properties. They also contain high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium.
Low glycemic load of leafy greens
Leafy reens have very little carbohydrates, and are considered keto friendly. Most leafy greens are low calorie and low carbohydrate with low glycemic index. These features make them an ideal food to facilitate achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Adding more green vegetables to a balanced diet increases the intake of dietary fiber which, in turn, regulates the digestive system and aids in bowel health and weight management. These properties are particularly advantageous for those with type-2 diabetes.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends increasing average intakes of fruits and vegetables, particularly those that provide more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Dark leafy greens fulfill this need. Many varieties of greens are available in the American markets-the most popular are collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, spinach and kale.
The dark greens supply a significant amount of folate, a B vitamin that promotes heart health and helps prevent certain birth defects. Folate is also necessary for DNA duplication and repair which protects against the development of cancer. Several large studies have shown that high intakes of folate may lower the risk of colon polyps by 30 to 40 percent compared to low intakes of this vitamin. Other research suggests that diets low in folate may increase the risk of cancers of the breast, cervix and lung.
Vitamin K and leafy greens
The vitamin K contents of dark green leafy vegetables provide a number of health benefits including: protecting bones from osteoporosis and helping to prevent against inflammatory diseases.
Eating dark green leafy vegetables is vital to a healthy, balanced diet. There are many ways to enjoy a meal with leafy greens:
Make a salad: Keep salads interesting by varying their colors, textures and varieties. Perk them up with small tender leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, spinach and arugula mixed with different kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots.
Wrap it up: Make a wrap with tuna, chicken or turkey and add romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, and other veggies for some extra flavor.
Add to soup: Add greens with larger, tougher leaves such as collard greens, kale or mustard greens into your favorite soup.
Stir-fry: Add chopped spinach, bok choy or broccoli to chicken or tofu stir-fried with olive or canola oil with some garlic, onion or ginger.
Steamed: Steaming collard greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach until they are slightly soft.
In an omelet: Add steamed broccoli and/or spinach to an egg-white omelet for a vitamin and iron rich meal.
List of leaf vegetables
Here is a list of leafy greens in an alphabetic order.