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Good Greens That Benefit Every Body

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By Emily Barr, MS,RD,CNSC 


Green represents a lot of terrific things, like “being green” is good for the environment and “making the green” is good for your wallet.  And if you like Saint Patty’s day, you will be sporting some green attire for good luck. 

What about eating your greens?  You never felt that lucky, as a kid, missing play time while staring at a plate of Brussels sprouts that you absolutely refused to eat.  Now looking back on those stubborn nights, you may just realize how lucky you were to be offered those wondrous greens. 


Eating foods of the green variety benefit you in many ways;  the potential for cancer prevention, protection against heart disease and type 2 diabetes, weight management, soluble and insoluble fiber, and not to mention the vitamins, minerals including calcium, antioxidants, phytochemicals, carotenoids, and flavonoids (A.K.A. really good things for your body and metabolism).Now are you interested in stepping up the greens?  





LOW IN CALORIES:  Weight management and disease prevention go hand in hand.  By keeping your body at a healthy weight, you reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.  The lower calorie greens typically range between 10-30 calories per ½ cup serving, which can play a very important role in weight management by replacing other high calorie foods.


Low calorie greens to try:   Spinach (1 cup raw = 7 calories), Swiss chard (1 cup = 7 calories), bok choy (1 cup = 10 calories), and cucumber (1/2 medium = 8 calories)


GREAT SOURCE OF FIBER: Greens contain both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble fibers that benefit the heart by reducing cholesterol and the waist line by filling you up on fewer calories.   Both types of fiber are helpful to regulate your blood sugar control.


Fiberful greens to try:  Cabbage (1 cup chopped = 5.16 grams carbohydrate of which 2.2 grams is fiber); Brussel sprouts (4 sprouts = 5.5 grams carbohydrate of which 2 grams is fiber), artichoke (1/2 medium = 6.7 grams carbohydrate of which 3.5 grams is fiber), and spinach (1 cup raw = 1 grams of carbohydrate of which 0.7 grams is fiber).


ANTIOXIDANT RICH: Many green vegetables are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant.  What this means is that they limit cell damage and help repair cells that have been damaged by free radicals.  When free radicals are in action, they change the cell, which may lead to health risks including illness by decreasing your immune system, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.


For green vegetables with an excellent sources Vitamin C to try:  Kale (1 cup raw = 80.4 mg), broccoli (1/2 cup cooked = 51 mg), Brussel sprouts (4 sprouts = 48.4 mg), and bok choy (1 cup = 30 mg)


FULL OF FOLATE: Folate is a vitamin found in high amounts in green vegetables, which plays a vital role in cell metabolism, especially for pregnant moms, growing babies and kids.  Folate is also involved in the metabolism of homocysteine.  High levels of homocysteine are connected to heart disease.


Folate rich greens to try:  Spinach (1 cup raw = 58 mcg DFE), brussel sprouts (4 sprouts = 47 mcg DFE), broccoli (1/2 cup cooked = 84 mcg DFE), and asparagus (4 spears = 89 mcg DFE).


LOW FAT:  The majority of green vegetables are naturally low in fat and saturated fat, which is great for your heart!


The following super green veggies have less than 0.5 grams fat per serving:  Kale, asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, brussel sprouts, bok choy, spinach, artichoke, swiss chard, and cabbage.

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