Eat your greens! This is certainly something I heard a lot when I was young. Great advice indeed, but the trouble is that nowadays we are hearing it less and less as ‘alternative diets’ become increasingly more common.
The modern world is facing a growing crisis as chronic disease becomes the norm. Here in Singapore, as we see the Asian diet becoming more and more ‘westernized’, and for many turning into something more resembling the Standard American Diet (S.A.D. for short), we see instances of degenerative conditions rising alarmingly. As a chiropractor and a doctor of natural health, every day I see myself on the front line trying to prevent this onslaught.
It’s time to look at what we put on our loved ones’ plates. If your family’s diet is consisting more and more of ‘food-like products’, invented in a lab and delivered in cans and packages, then this ancient advice is both timely and absolutely right for you…….“Eat your greens!”
With the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) continuing to devolve into regular servings of boxed, canned and microwavable dishes or even foods picked up from the nearest drive-thru window, regular servings of greens are more crucial than ever before.
“But there is salad on my burger”
This also is something I hear a lot, but unfortunately, it just doesn’t work. The classic iceberg lettuce, that water-filled, nutrient-deprived leaf that too often passes for a salad does you next to no good at all. You need to be trying kale, spinach, arugula, chard, collards, mustard or dandelion greens, watercress, even romaine lettuce – all of those dark green leaves you may be passing by on your weekly visit to the supermarket. Next time, try not to skip by them; it may be outside your comfort zone (a dangerous place to be) but go on, give them a try.
Leafy Greens – Nutritional Powerhouses
Simply put, dark leafy greens are the most nutritious things you can eat, as they boast a mind-boggling array of health benefits. They can even stave off some of the most dreaded diseases today. Here are just a few…
Cancer – According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, dark leafy greens are high in folate, which decreases the risk of pancreatic cancer. They’re also packed with dietary fiber, which decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. The organization’s studies also show that greens are extremely rich sources of chemicals called carotenoids, which can limit the growth of many types of breast cancer, stomach cancer, lung cancer and skin cancer.
Dark leafy greens are THE most nutritious things you can eat!
Heart Disease – The big brains at Harvard University discovered two years ago that a diet high in magnesium greatly reduced occurrences of sudden cardiac failure in women. So what foods do you find a huge amount of magnesium in? It’s a no brainer – dark leafy greens, in which magnesium is the main element of the wonder substance, chlorophyll (more on that later.)
Diabetes – The British Medical Journal published a study in 2010 showing that just a serving and a half of greens a day can decrease your chances of developing Type II Diabetes by 14%.
Digestive Maladies, Infections and Weight Loss – Studies show that a diet packed with leafy greens helps you to maintain a healthy gut, which allows you to properly digest everything else you eat, in addition to building your immune system and helping you stay trim.
What Makes Leafy Greens so Awesome Anyway?
As mentioned before, dark leafy greens are unquestionably the most nutrient-rich foods around. Just take a look at what can be found in those wondrous leaves.
- Calcium – vital for bone health
- B. Vitamins – the keys to healthy heart and brain health
- Protein – nothing less than the building blocks of your body
- Iron – energy, energy, energy! Also crucial in preventing anemia and strengthening your immune system
- Vitamin A – important for maintaining good eyesight
- Chlorophyll – the miracle pigment that makes these leaves green closely resembles hemoglobin, a central component of our blood. As such, consuming chlorophyll helps your body to produce healthy, strong red blood?cells, which allow your body to repair and cleanse itself
- Vitamin C – the amazing booster of your immune system
- Fiber – it keeps you regular, cleanses your colon, fills you up, and regulates your blood sugar
- Vitamin K – this little known vitamin is excellent for your blood, bones and liver
Just a Little Every Day – It’s Not Hard!
Since it’s clear that greens should be a vital part of your diet, you really should start thinking about how you can get decent sized servings of them at least three times a week. Of course, more often would be even better.
It’s actually not as hard as you might imagine. Firstly, let’s consider how you can get them raw…
Salads – Lighter greens such as spinach and arugula make for fantastic salads that can accompany your main dish or serve as your main meal.
Juices – Adding in regular juices into your diet is a powerful way to get these wonderful nutrients quickly. Just juice your greens along with more water-rich veggies like cucumbers and tomatoes to get a nice, healthy, full juice.
Smoothies – Throw your greens in a blender along with your favorite veggies. You can use powders or berries as well if the taste is too “green” for you.
Next, let’s look into how you can get more cooked greens into your diet…
Steam them –Set a little water boiling in a pot and add your chopped greens to your steamer. Add a touch of sea salt, garlic, even some red pepper flakes, and you’ll have a delicious side dish in just over 5 minutes
Sauté them – A light sauté takes the same amount of time as steaming and is just as tasty. Better yet, you can add them to all manner of stir-fries.
Soups and Stews – You might be surprised how much flavor and life some diced kale can add to your pot.
Green, green everywhere
Aside from the dark leafy greens in the produce section of your supermarket, you can also get your greens in a variety of supplements – from powders that you can add to your smoothies, to capsules that you can take every day. Of course, the preferred method of consuming your dark leafy greens is in their natural, whole form.
The most important thing, of course, is that you make them a regular part of your diet, every day if you can. We know you can do it. Listen to the resounding voices of mother and grandmothers of days gone by – Eat Your Greens!