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What are the nutritional and health benefits of green leafy vegetables, and how can you use them creatively in your diet?

You mother was right when she told you to eat your greens and this is the message you should be giving yourself and your loved ones every day. Greens provide superior micronutrient nutrition in a very low kilojoule package. Green leafy vegetables are powerhouses of life giving nutrients and are especially rick in minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous manganese, folate, iron and chromium as well as vitamin C and certain B complex vitamins. Green vegetables also contain special anti-oxidants called sulforaphane, isothiocyanate and indoles, all of which exhibit strong cancer-fighting properties.

Studies have shown that green vegetable intake is inversely related to cancers of the prostate, lung, breast and cervix. Chlorophyll, found in green plants, helps oxygenate the blood and improve energy because it is similar in structure to hemoglobin in humans. Another phytochemical, glucosinolate, which is responsible for the bitter taste in green vegetables, is a powerful liver detoxifier.

Using Greens

Since many of us don’t enjoy the teat of green son their own, we often need to get creative about how we use them. Here are some suggestions.

Add green leaves to salads. If you battle to take down big junks, chop your green first. Baby leaves are more tender and a little sweeter than the more mature leaves and often wok better in salads. If the bitter taste is too much, add some sweetness to your salad. Chopped fruits, like papaya or strawberry work well with mixed greens, or add a sweet dressing like honey mustard.

Chop greens into stews or add them to stir-fries. They reduce well and mix well with almost any other vegetable.

Instead, you can also steam greens in a steamer and simply add some olive oil, salt and pepper and use as a healthy side dish — or greens to omelettes and scrambled eggs. Chopping up some greens and using them as a topping for pizza is yet another option. 

Still looking for options? Here are some other possibilities:

  • Any food dish can be topped with greens. Simply chop then up and add a handful as a raw topping to your favorite cooked meal.
  • Next time you make your favorite sandwich, be sure to add some raw greens before taking a bite.
  • Green leafy vegetables are easy to grow all year round. Consider growing some leafy greens at home, so that you have daily access to their goodness. All they need is a little bit of sunlight and daily water and care.
  • Puree spinach or other greens to make a sauce or soup. Puréeing green leafy vegetables makes them smoother and easier to eat in larger quantities.
  • With a decent juicer, you can juice your greens to get out maximum nutrition. Mix a small quantity of juice greens with other fruits and vegetables like carrot, beet or apple to improve the taste.
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