Leafy green vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre but low in calories. Dark leafy green vegetables are all the rage among health-conscious eaters.
But the fact is that only a few Americans meet the minimum requirement of these nutritional powerhouses.
Green, leafy vegetables are some of the most important foods. They provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibres that keep you healthy. The best part is that there are many of them to choose from.
Here is a table that lists various green leafy vegetables and their benefits:
|Spinach||Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, folate, iron, and calcium|
|Kale||High in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, and iron|
|Swiss Chard||Good source of vitamins A, C, and K, magnesium, and potassium|
|Collard Greens||Contains vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, and iron|
|Romaine Lettuce||High in vitamins A and K, folate, and iron|
|Arugula||Rich in vitamins A and K, folate, and calcium|
|Bok Choy||Good source of vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium|
These green leafy vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help improve overall health and prevent various diseases.
In This Post, We will tell you the healthiest green leafy vegetables that pack the most potent nutritional punch.
12 Healthiest Green Leafy Vegetables
Probably the most famous green leafy vegetable, kale has a leg up with its hardy, green leaves. Unlike lettuce and spinach, it’s a cruciferous vegetable. It contains vitamins K, C, A and B6. It is also loaded with minerals like folate, fibre, and manganese.
Apart from these, it is also loaded with glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that support immune function and normal inflammatory processes.
They also help your body remove toxins through natural detoxification in the liver. So what’s a delicious way to get all the health benefits of kale?
Of course, you can eat it raw in a salad, but there’s an even better way! Combine it with a splash of olive oil and heat in a pan on the stove, which complements the slightly bitter flavour.
The heat and olive oil help break down fibres and make the nutrients more absorbable. When appropriately prepared, kale may help balance LDL (or bad) cholesterol levels.
2. Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are another healthy cruciferous vegetable. They contain certain antioxidants shown to help counteract cell damage. It’s also an approachable gateway vegetable for sceptics when roasted until crispy. In addition to helping you ward off adverse health conditions, they are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
They’re particularly high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium and folate. These make them great for supporting overall immune function and blood and bone health.
Not only do their antioxidants play a pivotal role in keeping you healthy, but Brussels sprouts provide 3 grams of fibre per 1 cup, which can help you feel more satisfied after a meal.
How can we talk about the healthiest green leafy vegetables and not mention spinach? There are many different kinds, but the most common are flat or smooth-leaf spinach which you can easily find at your local store. Other varieties include savoy and semi-savoy spinach, which both sport a more wrinkled, coarser leaf.
No matter which variety you choose, they contain ample nutrients, including vitamins K, A, C, E, and B2. Also, folate, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and fibre. These nutrients are crucial for your body to function smoothly.
They support muscle mass, bone density, heart health, kidney function, and your body’s inflammatory response.
Spinach is also known for its high protein content. It contains a whopping 3 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. That might sound like a little once you compare it to something like peanut butter that only has 25 grams per 100-gram serving. But then again, who puts peanut butter in a salad? But when you compare it to romaine lettuce’s less than half a gram.
Keep in mind that the nutritional value of spinach changes based on how you prepare it. Many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and folate, are lost when cooked.
On the other hand, cooked spinach provides higher levels of vitamin A and iron than when eaten raw. One cooked cup contains over 800 milligrams of potassium and 4 grams of fibre.
Here’s proof that great things come in small packages. Microgreens are the underdeveloped greens of vegetables such as kale, arugula, and broccoli.
They are harvested just one to two weeks after planting and are a treasure trove of vital nutrients.
A study found that several varieties of microgreens, including cabbage and cilantro, contain nutrient levels up to six times greater than those in mature plants.
During early development, vegetables need a full arsenal of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support their growth, so they’re packed with more good stuff.
They range in flavour from peppery to tangy and use microgreens to punch salads, soups, and sandwiches.
5. Swiss Chard
This may be the healthiest green you’re not eating. A relative of the beet family, chard tastes similar to spinach, growing in popularity.
While it does have a higher sodium count than other salad greens, with 77 g per cup, it also has more than double your daily requirement for vitamin K.
It contains 12 per cent of your daily requirement of vitamins A and C. Consider combining it with a few other greens to make your mix.
Swiss chard has a distinct flavour that only some appreciate. It tastes excellent sauteed with garlic and onions and mixed into a quiche or frittata.
6. Mustard Greens
As the name implies, these are the lacy-edged leaves of the same plant that gives mustard seeds. They are less bitter and more peppery tasting than kale or swiss chard and come second only to kale in beta-carotene.
Inside your body, beta-carotene can be converted to vitamin A to bolster eye and bone health. These greens also contain an arsenal of phytonutrients called glucosinolates that can rev up detoxification enzymes.
These can help protect the cells of your liver and other organs from all the nasties of free-radical damage.
Arugula has a spicy, peppery flavour that has worked its way into the recipes of many rock-star chefs. You’ll often find it in plastic containers alongside baby spinach at the grocery store.
Vegans, that lactose-intolerant, and anyone who doesn’t like milk should note that it is a surprisingly good source of calcium.
It has one of the highest amounts of this bone-builder on our list. Loading up on arugula helps you breeze through your workouts since it has high levels of natural nitrates.
This is what your body converts to nitric oxide, which increases muscle blood flow. Studies found that they can help your muscles work more efficiently during exercise.
This nutritious alga isn’t just for pretty, turquoise smoothies. Spirulina is one of the most impressive greens you can add to your diet.
Studies show that it can help support regular immune function. In its powdered form, 100 grams of spirulina contains exceptional vitamins, minerals, and protein values.
It contains 60-70% protein, depending on where it was harvested. It’s full of vitamins A and K and a range of B vitamins. With just one serving, women can hit nearly 50% of the recommended calcium intake. Including it in your diet can help support healthy cholesterol levels, too.
9. Collard Greens
This Southern favourite has large, leathery leaves and a mild flavour. But its tough texture calls for longer cooking times than other greens.
On top of providing a payload of vitamin K, C, and beta-carotene, collards contain higher amounts of dietary fibre than other leafy greens.
A study found that women who ate the most fibre had almost a 25 per cent lower risk of suffering heart disease than those who consumed the least.
Did you know that not all vegetables are created equal? Some of them are good for you, while others are not.
Popular in Europe, this salad green is often used in the United States as a mere garnish. But remember to underestimate its power in your diet. It’s more nutrient-rich than romaine and leaf lettuce.
Just 1 cup fulfills almost three-quarters of your daily requirement of vitamin K. It is also a good source of vitamin C.
Watercress makes a delicious addition to a salad. It has a peppery flavor that you can enjoy with just a touch of oil and vinegar. You can also puree it into a soup for extra flavor and nutrition.
While not technically lettuce, this leafy garnish that sits on the side of your plate is a quiet superfood. It’s so packed with nutrients that even one sprig can help you meet your daily requirement of vitamin K.
Moreover, research suggests that it can also help control your appetite. In a study, participants ate significantly less of a dish that smelled strongly of spice than a mildly scented version of the same food.
Adding herbs, like parsley, creates the sensory illusion that you’re indulging in something rich—without adding fat or calories to your plate.
This vegetable is a part of the cabbage family, although it looks similar to cauliflower.
It is rich in nutrients, with a single cup packing 135 percent and 116 percent of the recommended values for vitamins C and K, respectively.
It’s also a great fiber, calcium, folate, and phosphorus source. Of all vegetables in the cabbage family, broccoli is most affluent in the plant compound sulforaphane.
This may improve your bacterial gut flora and decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease.
While vegetables are a great way to stay healthy, you can do the same by avoiding certain types of foods.
In conclusion, green leafy vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help improve overall health and prevent various diseases. Whether you enjoy them raw in a salad, sautéed as a side dish, or blended into a smoothie, incorporating these power-packed greens into your diet can have a positive impact on your health. So, next time you are at the grocery store, make sure to stock up on these nutrient-dense greens and enjoy their many benefits. Remember, eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is key to a well-rounded and healthy diet, so don’t be afraid to try new greens and discover your favorites!