Imagine a food so powerful that it can help you lose weight, reduce your risk of cancer, make you look younger, strengthen your bones and has been purported to even help you live longer? Imagine if this food tasted good, was readily available and relatively inexpensive. No need to imagine, it’s reality. I’m talking about leafy green vegetables. These powerfully healthy vegetables put the super in superfoods. These remarkable green veggies come across as quite unassuming but they are packed with healthy nutrients. In fact dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, the most concentrated source of nutrition of pretty much any food out there. Vitamins A, C, E and K are found in salad greens, kale and spinach. Broccoli, bok choy and mustard greens also have many of the B complex vitamins. They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and calcium.
Sure leafy green veggies are full of vitamins and fiber but what makes leafy green vegetables so powerfully healthy is their abundance of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemicals found in plants that help protect plants from disease, insects, injuries, etc.; they’re basically a plant’s immune system. And they work for our immune system too. Phytonutrients have been effective in treating cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. They also help prevent cell damage and can decrease cholesterol levels. Leafy green vegetables are chock full of these powerfully healthy phytonutrients.
While leafy green vegetables are nutritional powerhouses they do have one flaw: they tend to go bad quickly and lose their powerful punch in a hurry. So you need to eat them within a couple days of purchasing. People have been known to go to great lengths to preserve their greens but you don’t have to do too much to get a few extra days out of them:
• Wash your greens as soon as you get home from the store in cold water • Pat them dry • Leave them out to dry all the way • Once they are totally dry (water is the enemy here), bundle the greens loosely between two paper towels and store in a large plastic (sealable) bag.
Note: The paper towels are important because they help soak up any condensation that may arise while in the fridge.
Leafy greens are an easy addition to almost any meal. Like most vegetables, leafy green veggies can be cooked, steamed, stir-fried, sautéed and even eaten raw. To ensure your leafy greens are delicious every time remember to:
• Wash well to remove dirt. Don’t skimp on this step, it may take several rinsings to remove all the dirt.
• Keep in mind that some greens cook faster than others and all greens release a lot of water, so you may have to adjust your recipes accordingly.
• Do not overcook greens as overcooking can destroy many of the nutrients, plus it makes the greens taste all mushy and yucky.
Low calorie, high fiber, cancer fighting…these unassuming vegetables are so powerfully healthy but yet tend to fly under the radar. So, next time you’re in the supermarket, don’t just gloss over the greens on your way to the colorful peppers or carrots, pick up a sprig or two of some powerfully healthy leafy green vegetables.