Research shows that leafy greens in particular are so packed with important nutrients that eating them regularly literally can save your life, protecting you from cancer, heart disease, and other serious conditions.
“Eating greens is one of the most important things you can do for your health,” says nutritionist Tara Gidus, best-selling author and dietitian for the Orlando Magic basketball team.
“Leafy greens are chock-full of antioxidants and phytonutrients that have been proven in study after study to fight serious disease and improve immunity,” she told Newsmax Health.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of From Fatigued to Fantastic, tells Newsmax Health that greens can compensate for the lack of nutrition in modern, processed foods.
“For the first time in the history of mankind we are seeing people who are both obese and malnourished,” he said. “We are also seeing a tremendous rise in immune and inflammatory illnesses. The antidote to this is adding more leafy greens to the diet.”
Gidus says that greens are the single best source of natural nitrates, which get converted by the body into nitric oxide, a gas that lowers blood pressure and promotes blood flow.
Since you produce less nitric oxide after the age of 40, it’s imperative to eat even more nitrates to help the body function optimally as we age.
To preserve the nutrition of greens, avoid boiling them, which can deplete them of vitamins and minerals. They are best eaten steamed, microwaved, sauteed, or raw.
Here are the top six healthiest greens:
1. Swiss chard is a great source of vitamins C, E, and A. It contains the minerals manganese and zinc, which lower inflammation in the body by altering pro-inflammatory enzymes and preventing the production of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules. Because it also contains calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K, Swiss chard offers incredible bone support. It also helps detoxify the body.
2. Arugula is high in vitamins and minerals, but is extremely low in calories. It also has the highest nitrate levels of any greens. This distinctive green contains vitamin A, B complex, C, and K. New research shows it may prevent ulcers.
3. Collard greens are a staple of the South and an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E, and the mineral manganese. It also contains an array of antioxidants that lower oxidative stress in our cells, preventing cancer. Collard greens contain valuable fiber that helps with digestion.
4. Bok choy is a popular Asian vegetable that is one of the best sources of potassium, which helps build muscle and keeps blood pressure low. It’s packed with vitamin A that strengthens the immune system. It contains more than 70 antioxidant substances.
5. Kale has become extraordinarily popular, turning up on menus everywhere. It is a true “superfood” that has been shown to lower cholesterol and detoxify the body. It’s rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that prevent age-related vision loss.
6. Watercress is a delicate green that cleanses the blood and inhibits carcinogens. A single cup of watercress will give you the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which helps regulate blood clotting and reduce heart disease-causing arterial plaque.