Eat More Greens
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know this because our parents have been pushing this idea on us ever since we were old enough to hold a spoon. But now, rather than eating your broccoli in response to the all-purpose “Eat it ‘cause it’s good for you” exhortation, you have many more excellent—even exciting—reasons to eat more greens.
Blending your veggies is a good way to get them in. Try my “Green Smoothie” recipe. It’s packed with fresh veggies and spinach!
Originally, we were going to name this blog “Eat More Fruits and Veggies,” but the more we thought about it the more we realized that you’re probably already eating plenty of fruits and veggies and, if not, you at least know you should be. What we’re learning here at Bramble Berry is that leafy green vegetables are the ones we should all be consuming like crazy. Research is showing that they’re even more amazingly nutritious than we ever imagined, and that just a small increase in the amount you eat can bring about some huge health benefits. In fact, leafy greens are the Earth’s most nutrient-dense foods which, by a wonderful nature-made coincidence, are also incredibly high in fiber and extremely low in calories.
When you start looking for them, you’ll be surprised how many leafy greens are available at your supermarket, what a great variety of tastes and textures they offer, and how inexpensive most of them are. Here’s a short list: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and watercress.
A book that’s been making the rounds here is Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. (Little Brown Publ.). You may have caught Dr. Fuhrman on one of his PBS presentations. Even a quick skimming of his books or viewing of his lectures will clue you in on his reasons for basing a healthy lifestyle on the lofty, leafy goal of consuming many more greens. Their ability to ramp up your nutrition and increase your cancer-fighting abilities and weight-loss success are almost magical. Dr. Fuhrman points out that:
- The one food shown to have a strong relationship to increased longevity is raw leafy greens.
- The more healthy greens you eat, the healthier and thinner you will become. Three cheers for that!
- Green vegetables are higher in protein than meat and deliver more calcium than milk.
- Consuming more plant protein is the key to achieving safe and successful weight loss.
Do a quick search yourself on “leafy green vegetables + nutrition” and you’ll be presented with more resources than you’d be able to track down in a year. Here are just some of the gems we uncovered as we roamed the Internet:
- As a general rule: the darker the salad green, the more health benefits it offers. Start replacing anemic iceberg lettuce with spinach, romaine and other dark green leaves for an immediate boost in nutrition.
- An extra serving (1/2 cup) of green vegetables per day can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 11%. I toss ’em into my protein smoothies and the fruit totally covers up the extra serving and you don’t even taste them.
- Studies show that one more serving or more per day of leafy greens could lead to a 9% lower risk of diabetes.
- Increase your consumption of greens by one serving per day, and when you’re middle-aged your risk of hip fracture could decrease by 45%.
- Eating three or more servings per week of greens significantly reduces the risk of stomach cancer, according to a Swedish study. Other studies suggest chances for developing breast, skin and colon cancers are also reduced.
- Greens help keep eyes healthy and protect against cataracts and age-related blindness.
- Eating greens contributes to healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Studies showed that men who ate three or more servings of broccoli and cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables per day had a 41% reduced risk of prostate cancer.
- Greens help prevent, and can even repair, damaged cells and DNA that could lead to cancer.
Try to eat about 1/2 cup of dark leafy greens per day or three cups per week. That’s not much when you think about it. Because some of the nutrients in the greens require a bit of fat in order to be absorbed by the body, you may want to spritz your greens with some olive oil or other unsaturated good-for-you fat. I personally get plenty of fat in my diet (eh hem, could still clean my eating up a bit!) but if you eat really cleanly, this step is important.
I’m a huge fan of kale, and I swear that an alchemist would even be impressed with the transformation that takes place when it’s marinated for 30 minutes and “massaged” in a dressing containing lemon or vinegar: the hardy plant softens into a pliable, yummy salad green. You can even use it as you would grape or cabbage leaves to enclose any number of raw or cooked fillings. I’m obsessed with kale chips (toss some olive oil on ’em, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and either bake or dehydrate them. DELICIOUS!)
And one more bonus offered by hardy leafy greens: they last much longer in the refrigerator before turning to mush. This way you’ll have plenty of time in which to graze on your greens and eventually turn into a mean green eating machine!
To learn more about the value of eating leafy greens, check out some of the sites we visited during of exploration of the topic: Don’t Eat Less, Eat Smarter, Health Benefits of Green Leafy Vegetables, Dark Green Leafy Vegetables, Fight cancer with dark green vegetables, Leafy Green Vegetables and Their Amazing Healthy Benefits.
Call to Action: Add 1/2 extra serving of dark, leafy greens to your DAILY diet. Join me in tossing that extra handful into smoothies, eating kale chips or hiding those greens in baked casserole dishes.
“Green Smoothie” recipe. Down the hatch!
Catch up on previous Hello to Health Blog posts: Day 1: Drink More Water, Day 2:Don’t Drink Your Calories, Day 3: Walk More, Day 4: Eat More Fiber, Day 5: Community.
We are on a plant based diet & our favorite is dino kale I just love the stuff. I can only buy the organic though it last for weeks in the fridge, the non organic turns to mush on us within days. Kale chips are the bomb though lol.
Hi, another Vitamix soaping nut here! I love green smoothies 🙂 I am not 100% raw vegan, but am trying to get there. I will probably stick around 75% though, because I can never give up Thai food, it is too yummy 😉
We have been eating healthier for about 5yrs now. We started by making our own bread & now have gotten to the green smoothies. We eat all organic (non-gmo) & try to stay clear of soy. We’re trying to incorporate more raw-food into our diet. We LOVE our VitaMix too & use it all the time! Bokchoy is great in “green smoothies” because it does not have a very strong taste 😉
I’ve been making candles (5-6yrs) & soap (abt 4yrs, basic m&p: melt, dye, scent, nothing fancy) & when I found your youtube vids I was soooo excited! I love your vids & hope to place my first order soon!:D
Love that! Welcome to the most awesome hobby in the world – and we’d love to have you as a customer at Bramble Berry.
I am hoping that our son never knows any way but eating healthy (that is, until he goes to college and then is like ‘Whoah! Eating healthy is for the birds! Give me pizza!!!’) =)
Excellent article! I’d love your smoothie recipes.
When I sat down to read this, I had a green smoothie in hand :o). I’m working up to 1/2 cup. In the past, I put way too many greens in them (for my taste), & just couldn’t stomach them. But, at 1/4 cup of kale, like you say, I can’t taste them, with the blackberries and bananas to cover them up. In the spring, I tried my first kale salad & loved it! I’m anxiously awaiting the kale in my garden to grow. Yay for green veggies, and the other colors too.
Kale chips. You have to try Kale Chips. They are addicting =) I found with enough fruits, you can make the taste of any green veggie go far, far into the background and you don’t taste it at all. Good job for getting your greens in!
Cheyenne Canfield says
I sometimes make a smoothie with a couple of apples and a TON of spinach (and a couple of other things), and it’s a delicious and filling breakfast. If you hate green veggies, try blending ’em with a super sweet fruit! 😉
I tried that yesterday – apple, banana, pear, kale and spinach (a ton of spinach) and it was really yummy. Very sweet and it went down super easy.
Jan J. says
We have discovered the joys of bok choy in the last year and have it all the time now – the last two nights in lightly cooked stir fries. It is so crunchy and delicious! I so wish I had a Vitamix. I have heard of the kale chips in the past and am now inspired to try them! I usually find kale already chopped, though, but I will look for some that is intact. I appreciate the encouragement to get healthier. I usually walk a half hour a day but need more and you have encouraged me to buy an iPod shuffle so I can listen to music and get moving some more!
I so so so love listening to music when I walk or run. It really helps the time go faster =))
Kale Chips are AWESOME. They are delicious and so yummy and give just that little bit of salt for when you want a chip or a cracker.
Thanks for following along with this series.
I love my Vitamix and bought it when I was eating raw. I’m adding raw food back into my eating as we were right in front of raw food vendors at our Saturday market and it got me inspired again. I bought a bunch of raw organic kale and came home to make kale chips in my dehydrator.
I am obsessed with my Vitamix. It can do SO much. Right now, I’m making ‘raw’ crackers with flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and greens in the Vitaminx and dehydrator and they are crazy yummy addicting.
Kale chips, definitely delicious!
claryssa correa says
The perfect Gazpacho. Delicious!
Isn’t it though? I did pears, spinach, kale, banana and celery yesterday and I thought it was delicious!
Ruth Esteves says
This is why our family joined a CSA. We get a box of farm-fresh, locally grown organic veggies every week. At first I didn’t even know what some of them were. But I searched for recipes and now I love kale, too! And celery root! And fava beans! Mmm, stir fried Tokyo turnips…. I never would have picked those up myself at the market. Sometimes you need a little push.
We’re in a CSA too and it’s introduced us to all kinds of new veggies. I had no idea how to prepare a lot of them but for a baby, it’s really easy. Steam and puree! =)