When it comes to healthy living, it’s all about the green stuff. No, we’re not talking about dollar bills! We’re talking about dark, leafy greens.
There’s overwhelming evidence that the more green you get in your diet, the lower your chances of developing conditions like heart disease and Alzheimer’s. On top of that, green veggies are a fantastic way to burn fat and keep your skin radiant.
Let’s go over just a few of the most substantial benefits you’ll experience once you start eating green veggies every day. In this post, we’ll also share pro tips on how to sneak a little green into your daily routine.
The Glorious Benefits Of Eating Leafy Greens
Here are some fantastic benefits of eating your greens (like Mom told you!).
Benefit #1 – Enjoy A Long-Term Memory Boost
Forget about spending hours playing those brain-training apps. If you add one serving of leafy green veggies to your day, then you’re bound to experience a memory boost.
A recent study out of Rush University tracked the diet and cognitive health of about 950 senior citizens in Chicago. Over roughly five years, researchers screened study participants for mental issues and asked what they ate on a typical day.
Amazingly, there was a strong correlation between how many greens a person ate and their risk of memory problems. People who ate just one serving of green veggies per day versus those who ate none had a substantially slower rate of cognitive impairment.
Benefit #2 – Naturally Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is one of the most common chronic conditions in the USA. In fact, the CDC now estimates that about 108 million Americans have some degree of hypertension. Thankfully, it appears dark green veggies could help millions of patients keep their blood pressure levels in check.
Scientists at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently published a long-term study analyzing the correlation between diet and hypertension. Researchers tracked the health of over 28,000 middle-aged females for a little over 12 years. According to the data, women who ate more dark green veggies had a lower incidence of blood pressure issues.
It’s important to note, however, that leafy green veggies are only a part of managing high blood pressure. Indeed, professors involved in the above study found an even higher correlation between fruit intake and lower blood pressure.
• Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
• Add a mindfulness meditation session into your daily routine.
• Get at least seven hours of sleep per night.
• Quit harmful habits like smoking and drinking.
• Take a warm bath or visit a sauna a few times per week.
Benefit #3 – Show Your Teeth Some Serious Love
One of the annoying things about eating leafy green veggies is they can often get stuck in your teeth. Well, look at the bright side: at least these foods will keep your pearly whites free from cavities!
Interestingly, all leafy green veggies have incredibly high levels of bioavailable calcium. So, if you’re lactose intolerant, you could get all the calcium your bones and teeth need from a daily helping of greens.
In addition to calcium, leafy green veggies often contain high traces of folic acid (aka vitamin B9). Many studies suggest people who eat more folic acid have a lower risk of gum bleeding and gingivitis.
Benefit #4 – Detox Your Liver With Dandelion
There’s great hope in the scientific community that green veggies could combat one of the world’s leading liver diseases: fatty liver. Recent rodent studies out of Sweden show that leafy greens contain high traces of nitrate. According to the latest research, the body can use this substance to reduce liver inflammation.
Although trials are ongoing, dark green veggies could likely play a big role in the future treatment and prevention of fatty liver disease. In particular, dandelion appears to have the highest potential to protect patients from liver disease. This green has a ton of beneficial polysaccharides that assist liver detoxification.
Since this green is somewhat bitter, most people don’t enjoy eating it raw. If you find dandelion’s taste a bit too abrasive, consider sautéing them or drinking them in an herbal tea.
If you just can’t stand this green’s taste but still want to enjoy its benefits, you could always look into dietary supplements. Just be sure to let your doctor know beforehand. Sometimes herbal pills could counteract prescription medications, so it’s best to get a physician’s approval.
Benefit #5 – See Clearly With Lutein & Zeaxanthin
When we think of healthy foods for the eyes, we usually think of carrots. Although this orange root veggie is pretty sweet, it just can’t compete with leafy green veggies.
The reason green veggies are so beneficial for eye health has to do with compounds called lutein and zeaxanthin. Research has shown both of these chemicals play a critical role in reducing the pressure in the eyes, which could decrease the risk of conditions like age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
Although lutein and zeaxanthin are present in a few other foods, they are nowhere near as concentrated as in leafy green veggies. No doubt: a bowl of greens every day will undoubtedly keep the ophthalmologist away!
Benefit #6 – Promote Gut Health With Prebiotic Powerhouses
One of the most significant medical discoveries in recent years is the “gut-brain axis.” Although it may seem strange, there seems to be a direct connection between our digestive and our cognitive health.
To be more specific, the types of bacteria that thrive in our gut play a significant role in our overall well-being. You’ve probably already heard about the many benefits of “probiotics,” which refers to the healthy bacteria in your gut that help to regulate digestive well-being.
Although leafy green vegetables don’t contain probiotics, they are considered one of nature’s most outstanding “prebiotics.” In other words, the fiber in these veggies acts as “food” for the healthy bacteria in your gut. Interesting research also suggests dark green veggies have an enzyme that helps increase probiotic populations.
Fast Facts On The World’s Greatest Green Veggies
Now that you know why green veggies are so good for you, it’s time to take a peek at some of the best foods in your grocery store. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the world’s top green vegetables.
A staple side in the South, collards have one of the highest concentrations of vitamin K for any vegetable. Just one cup of this powerhouse food packs well over 1,000 percent of your daily recommended dose of vitamin K. Interestingly. Recent research suggests collards have their highest nutrient count when they are steamed.
When it comes to green veggies, kale is king. Why is this green so popular nowadays? Well, in addition to its delightfully bitter taste, this veggie has loads of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This leafy green also has the highest concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin (perfect for eye health). Plus, vegetarians love cooking recipes with this green because it has exceptionally high traces of protein.
3. Mustard Greens
Originating in India, mustard greens have one of the most unique flavor profiles of all the veggies on our list. Unlike the bitter, earthy taste of other greens, mustards have a rather spicy taste that almost resembles horseradish. Traditionally used in Indian and Chinese cuisine, mustards have many of the benefits of other green plants but are better suited for people who like hot dishes.
While we’re on the subject of spicy green veggies, we should take a few moments to mention arugula. Sometimes known as “rocket,” arugula is a delicate leafy green that has a unique taste reminiscent of black pepper. Like many of the other veggies on this list, arugula has plenty of calcium, vitamin K, folic acid, and vitamin A. Fun fact: Ancient Romans supposedly used arugula to help improve libido…just sayin’.
What list of leafy greens would be complete without mentioning Popeye’s favorite treat? Spinach is one of the world’s most famous green veggies for many good reasons, including its high iron and zinc content. As a bonus, spinach has a relatively mild flavor. It’s quite easy to hide fistfuls of this vegetable in smoothies and juices.
6. Beet Leaves
Everybody’s talking about beet juice nowadays, but please don’t throw out those gorgeous beet leaves! Yes, you can eat the distinctive leaves on your beets. In fact, some people argue this is the healthiest part of the plant due to its high traces of iron. Be sure to sauté these leaves, mix them in a smoothie, or try eating them raw.
Don’t Like Salads? Check Out These Sneaky Green Hacks
If you don’t like eating salads, no worries! There are plenty of creative ways you could get these greens into your diet. Here are just a few hacks to keep in mind:
• Mix a few of these veggies into a morning smoothie.
• Experiment with juicing veggies and covering them with sweet apples or lemons.
• Buy an organic green powdered mix.
• Incorporate green veggies into pasta dishes or soups.
• Bake tasty “kale chips” in your oven.
As you could see, leafy green veggies have a lot going in their favor. If you start incorporating any of these foods into your regular diet, you’re bound to wow your doctor at your next appointment. If possible, aim for at least one cup of your preferred green every day for the maximum benefits.