Fresh, raw leafy greens are one of the most important foods to eat on a daily basis! Whether you enjoy your greens juiced, in a smoothie, a salad, and entrée or even in a dessert, adding as many of these to your diet will greatly impact and improve your health. If you’re not eating greens on a daily basis, I hope this article will encourage everyone to buy, grow, and eat lots of these powerhouse vegetables.
Leafy greens keep your mind young and sharp!
Most recently, Rush University Medical Center published a study reporting that eating just one to two servings of greens per day can protect against memory decline that is associated with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The study found that just one to two servings a day provided the person with a cognitive ability 11 years younger! Greens have high amounts of Vitamin K, lutein, beta-carotene and folate that work together to keep the mind sharp! (1)
University of Southern California completed research this year that shows that the lutein found in leafy greens can also protect your heart! The study examined 480 men who had no current diagnosis of heart disease and examined their arteries! The study notice that those with less lutein had more thickening of the arteries. Thickening of the arteries is one of the beginning stages of atherosclerosis. (2)
A 2010 study found in the British Medical Journal completed a study involving over 22,000 participants. They found that those who ate lots of leafy greens were less likely to develop type II diabetes! The study reports that an increase of 1.15 servings per day may decrease your riskof type II diabetes by 14 percent! (3)
Leafy greens are also a great way to protect your bones! We now know that it’s not just calcium that protects our bones, but a mixture of calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin D,potassium and magnesium. Leafy greens are a perfect food to help protect your bones and body from arthritis! Kale gives you 550 micrograms of Vitamin K, this is over 680 percent of our daily needs! Leafy greens are not only a good source of Vitamin K but they also provide calcium, potassium and magnesium! (4,5)
Leafy greens protect your bones, eyes, and heart!
A 2006 study reported that those who ate leafy greens may help protect their eyesight! Spinach in particular is abundant in antioxidants and vitamins. Spinach is a good source of lutein and zeaxanathin. These two antioxidants were found to produce a substance that protects the eyes from macular degeneration! (6)
A study published in Nutrition Research compared collard greens with prescription drug Cholestyramine and found that collard greens improved the body’s ability to block cholesterol by 13 percent more than the drug! Romaine lettuce carries high amounts of folic acid and has been found to boost sperm counts and improve fertility!
A Nurses Health Study reported that women who eat one serving of leafy lettuce daily cut their risk of hip fracture by 30 percent! (7)
Eat a variety of greens to get a variety of protection!
Wanting to lose weight or control emotional eating? Spinach contains thylakoids which are shown to help suppress appetite. A long term study from Sweden showed that people who consumed a drink high in thylakoids for breakfast significantly reduced cravings and experienced weight loss. (7)
One cup of beet greens has five grams of fiber! Fiber has been shown to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease! University of Leeds published a study reporting that our risk of cardiovascular disease was significantly lowered for every 7grams of fiber consumed! (7)
Last but not least, do you want youthful, glowing skin? If so, eat lots of watercress! This green contains four times more beta carotene than an apple and 238 percent of your daily recommended Vitamin K dose. These two compounds keep your skin youthful! Not only does it help your skin but watercress is also the richest dietary source of phenylethyl isoiocyanate which helps fight cancer! (7)
A quick way to boost your greens is to juice them! Blending your favorite greens with fruit or carrots will help decrease the bitterness that some greens can provide. Throwing them in a smoothie provides the benefits without missing out on the fiber. A berry smoothie with a handful of your favorite green is a quick way to boost your daily antioxidant levels and will help start your day out on the right foot! However you choose, increasing your greens may provide you a higher quality of life and increased wellness.
Guest Editor: Matt Monarch
Proprietor, The Raw Food World, April 2015