8 Leafy Greens to Get You Back on Track After the Holidays

8 Leafy Greens to Get You Back on Track After the Holidays

Author -  Good Health

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1. Broccoli

The name broccoli is derived from the Latin word, brachium, meaning branch, which reflects the tree like shape of broccoli. A member of the cruciferous family, broccoli is one of the most nutrient dense foods that we can be eating and research suggests it has a beneficial role in fighting breast cancer. Rich in vitamin C, K, A, folic acid and fibre, one cup of broccoli contains a similar amount of protein as a cup of rice, but with more nutrients and less calories. Broccoli is a rich source of lutein, which may help prevent age-related macular (eye) degeneration; and broccoli sprouts are becoming more and more popular, due to the anticancer phytochemical sulforaphane. Sulforaphane may also reduce helicobacter pylori infections, a bacteria which is largely responsible for the development of peptic ulcers and help in healthy detoxification within the body. 

2. Kale

Rich in vitamin B’s, vitamin C, A, K and E, fibre and minerals; kale is a nutrient dense vegetable that has increased in popularity recently for good reason. One cup of kale supplies the body with more than 70% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. It also contains three times as much calcium as phosphorous, which is the most beneficial ratio of the two minerals; as high phosphorous promotes calcium excretion and is linked to osteoporosis. This makes kale a great bone-protecting vegetable. Eat rubbed with olive oil, so that the body can absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, or roast leaves in oil and salt to make kale chips. Often thought of as one of the most potent green sources of antioxidants. 

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3. Silver beet

From the same plant family as beetroot, silver beet is made of a dense combination of nutrients and phytochemicals. It can help to lower blood pressure, improve brain heath, and is a rich source of fibre, helping food move through your digestive system easily. Silver beet is a great source of iron, vitamin C, E and K. One cup of cooked silver beet has almost 400% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 is essential for good bone health, as it activates the main non-collagen protein in the bone, anchoring calcium to the bone itself. Silver beet can also come in rainbow shades of colour, think rainbow chard, brilliant stems of red and yellow. Silver beet should also be consumed with some oil or fat, so that your body can fully absorb the vitamins. 

4. Rocket 

More nutrient dense than carrots, tomatoes and kumara, rocket leaves may be small, but they are full of nutrients and are paired with a pepper kick! The bitter nature of rocket makes it a wonderful digestive stimulant helping to assist stomach acid and its warming nature promotes digestive circulation. Rocket is part of the famed cruciferous family and is full of vitamin A and C and folic acid, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Like broccoli, Rocket also contains glycosylates, which work as antioxidants, and help to stimulate the natural detoxification process. 

5. Spinach

Regarded as the source of Popeye’s strength, spinach has historically been eaten to increase energy and vitality and improve the quality of the blood. This is because spinach has twice as much iron than other leafy greens. Low in sodium and high in potassium, spinach also helps to control blood pressure, and is a wonderful source of vitamin C, K, b2, folic acid magnesium and carotene. Spinach can be eaten raw, added into smoothies, soups, sauces or cooked with eggs, pasta or curries. One of the most versatile leafy greens we have, spinach should be consumed regularly. 

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6. Dandelion leaves

Many consider dandelion to be a weed, but it is valued by herbalists for its healing effect on the liver. A tonic to the body, dandelion leaves improve liver function, promote proper digestion, weight loss and improve blood sugar regulation. Dandelion leaves contain greater nutritional value than any other vegetables, and are high in digestive enzymes, calcium, iron, vitamin B5, and vitamin A. Dandelion is one of the few plants to fall asleep at night by closing its petals, then waking with the sunlight to start the new day. A natural sense of balance is part of dandelion’s nature.

7. Romaine lettuce 

The most nutrient dense lettuce there is, romaine should be your first choice when making a salad. Low in calories and high in nutrients, romaine lettuce contains vitamin A, C, B1, B2 and folic acid. It is also full of magnesium which can help relax the nervous system, and chromium which may help to reduce blood sugars. Because lettuces are often a natural source of silica, acting as diuretics and helping elimination via the kidneys and urine, it is no wonder that lettuce is historically the most popular diet food.

8. Brussel sprouts

Grown on a long stem in bunches of 20-40, Brussel sprouts were originally a crop from Brussels, Belgium. Similar nutritionally to broccoli, Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of nutrients, fibre, and phytochemicals. Brussel sprouts contain vitamin C, K and B vitamins, potassium and carotene; and like rocket are a great source of glycosylates. Research into Brussel sprouts suggests that the glycosylates protect the body against damage from disease. 

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There are so many leafy green vegetables, we should count ourselves lucky that we have so many to choose from! Packed full of nutrients, leafy greens are essential for health and wellbeing and with such a variety it is easy to incorporate them into your diet daily. When eating green vegetables, remember that some are highly sensitive to heat, light and oxygen. Unless you have a thyroid problem, where you should eat vegetables well-cooked, it’s best to eat vegetables as fresh as possible and consume a variety of raw and lightly steamed vegetables, so that you can be sure you are absorbing a variety of nutrients.

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