Leafy Greens: The Lowdown on Why We Love Them
Simply put, leafy greens are some of the healthiest foods available. Packed with vitamins, these plants are a valuable and necessary part of a normal healthy diet. For preventing disease and restoring an ailing body to health, leafy greens are a natural choice that can’t be beaten!
Benefits of Leafy Greens
Antioxidants, which fight cancer, are found in abundance in this type of vegetable. Many leafy greens also contain such important minerals as calcium, iron, and potassium. The most common vitamins contained in leafy greens are vitamins A, C, and K. Leafy greens are also an easy and delicious way to get your daily amount of fiber.
Beyond these benefits, some plants have specific values. Spinach is linked to reducing the risk of breast cancer. It has over 13 compounds that protect against many types of cancer. It also provides lots of Vitamin K, which is crucial for bone health and can protect your bones from osteoporosis.
Eating plenty of leafy greens can significantly lower your risk of heart attack or heart disease. Greens that are high in fiber will help with the digestive system and can even help you lose weight by making you feel full longer.
Examples of Leafy Greens
When choosing your salad makings, a wide variety of greens ensure that your meal will stay interesting. For the main part of a salad, use greens that blend well together. For example, spinach, with its strong, slightly bitter flavor, will pair nicely with the hot tang of mustard greens. Both greens contain plenty of calcium and vitamins A and C. Spinach provides iron, as well.
If you are looking for a garnish, try arugula. This peppery plant contains large amounts of vitamins A and C, antioxidants, folic acid, and potassium. It tastes delicious in anything requiring a boost, from salads to pasta dishes. You may also enjoy dandelion greens, which can be wilted for flavor or eaten as is. Dandelion greens are loaded with beneficial nutrients and vitamins, including vitamin A, which helps prevent cancers of the mouth and lungs. If you are trying to lose weight, it can even help you reach your goal. For a milder taste, kale will provide the same vitamins but without such a pungent flavor. Kale also has an assortment of B vitamins and iron.
How to Buy Leafy Greens
If it looks fresh, it is – it’s about that simple! Look for healthy, vivid green leaves that are firm and crisp. Avoid any plant that is beginning to wilt or turn brown. Buy plenty, keeping in mind that the greens will shrink quite a bit if cooked.
How to Keep it Fresh
Greens will stay fresh for a short while, provided they are kept in a crisper drawer. Some types of greens prefer bags with “breathing holes”; this applies to chard, mustard greens, and rabe. Other greens, like collards, will do just fine in an open bag in the refrigerator. All greens should be eaten as soon as possible after they are bought, as they will become noticeably less fresh within a few days.