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Picture above: Chard, Spinach, Curly Kale, Red Kale and organic wild Rucola.

Green vegetables are a major source of iron and calciumfor any diet. Swiss chard and spinach are not considered good sources of calcium, due to their high content of oxalic acid. Green leafy vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, which can also be converted into vitamin A, and also improve immune function.

Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic indexgreen leafy vegetables are also valuable for persons with type 2 diabetes. An increase of 1 serving/day of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of diabetes. The high level of vitamin K in greens makes them important for the production of osteocalcin, a protein essential for bone health.

Green veggies contain a variety of carotenoids, flavonoids and other powerful antioxidants that have cancer-protective properties. A higher consumption of green leafy vegetables has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer and skin cancer.

Green, leafy vegetables provide a great variety of colors from the bluish-green of kale to the bright kelly green of spinach. Leafy greens run the whole gamut of flavors, from sweet to bitter, from peppery to earthy. Young plants generally have small, tender leaves and a mild flavor. Many mature plants have tougher leaves and stronger flavors. Collards, Swiss chard, bok choy, and spinach provide a mild flavor while arugula, mizuna and mustard greens provide a peppery flavor. Bok choy is best known for use in stir-fries, since it remains crisp, even when cooked to a tender stage. One should always choose crisp leaves with a fresh vibrant green color. Yellowing is a sign of age and indicates that the greens may have an off flavor. Salad greens provide a whole range of important nutrients and phytochemicals to keep us healthy.

 

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