We know how important it is to eat our greens. After all, leafy greens are an excellent source of nutrition, offering vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to help us stay healthy. While salads are great, you can get your daily dose of healthy greens in many delicious ways. Here are some power packed greens and ideas for how to enjoy them.
Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is packed with vitamins and minerals. There are several types of kale ranging from curly or flat to purple or green. Kale is high in vitamins A, C, K, and B. It contains phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc. It also has lutein which gives kale it’s rich, deep color and has been linked to protecting our eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts.
Collards are kale’s smoother and more leathery cousin. Collards contain vitamins A, K, and C. They also contain a lot of antioxidants that are fantastic at fighting free-radicals that can cause inflammation and unhealthy aging in our bodies. Collards contain glutathione which consists of three key amino acids and have been shown to boost immune function, fight cancer, and help protect the body against environmental pollution and toxins.
Collard greens are also delicious braised…southern collards are a traditional way to make them, or they this recipe, coconut milk braised collard greens. And this is a nice, easy recipe, collard greens with rice.
Swiss chard is a part of the Amaranthaceae or goosefoot family as are beets and spinach. Chard is a fantastic source of vitamins A, K, and C. In fact, just one cup of swiss chard provides more than 300% of our daily vitamin K! It also is a great source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and fiber.
Foods in the Amaranthaceae family, like spinach, are known to help our central nervous system by reducing inflammation and delaying aging due to their high amounts of antioxidants. Spinach also contains carotenoid compounds that have been linked to decrease rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other neurodegenerative conditions. Spinach supplies good levels of vitamins A and C, manganese, zinc, and selenium. These vitamins have been linked to better immune systems and even eyesight!
Dandelion greens belong to the sunflower family. This family includes more than 20,000 species making it one of the largest plant families. Once again, this particular green contains a large amount of vitamins A and K which have been shown to help in brain, skin, and eye health. It also contains vitamins C and B6, riboflavin, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and magnesium! And, unlike some of our other greens listed here, dandelion greens are high in inulin and pectin, which are soluble fibers that may help your body feel full longer. If picking wild dandelion greens, be sure to find a clean environment to do so. Avoid areas that have been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, or any other synthetic chemical.
Dandelion greens are excellent eaten raw and tossed with a little lemon juice and olive oil. Add some dandelion greens to any kale recipe. Give dandelion greens a quick saute in some garlic-infused oil.
Parsley is in the Apiaceae family with other plants like dill, anise, cumin, carrots, and celery. Parsley contains a ton of vitamins A, C, and K like the other greens we’ve met, but a little-known fact of parsley is that it contains twice as much iron as spinach. Parsley can also be a fantastic digestive aid with its high fiber content and has been linked to boosting the immune system due to its range of antioxidants like luteolin, lycopene, beta-carotene, and more. According to studies, parsley benefits dental and skin health by fighting off infections and bacteria because of its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Lastly, parsley contains folate which has been linked to bettering heart health.
Parsley is featured in this pesto and this fresh sauce. Chop it and add it to every salad you make. Don’t forget to add it (at the end of cooking) to nearly every soup and stew you make. Use it to make gremolata, a nice zippy touch for meats and vegetables.