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Having spent the majority of my career teaching others about the importance of good nutrition, it’s hard not to extol the virtues of plants.
Leafy greens like collards, kale and lettuce contain a wealth of micro-nutrients, and each contains its own unique set of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. These distinct nutrient profiles are also responsible for a number of health benefits.
Beyond the selection of greens we find in the produce section of most grocery stores, there are many other lesser known varieties: dandelion greens, mustard greens, grape leaves, turnip greens and purslane are just a few.
As part of my personal self-care plan, I include mixed greens several days each week. (And I don’t limit my serving size to a single cup either.) Most of the time, my salads are closer to 4-cup servings. And at roughly 25 calories per cup, that’s an even bigger reason to go heavy on the greens!
Add some legumes or grains to a handful of mixed greens and you have a hearty salad. Wrap a large collard leaf around some protein and you have a sandwich. Or add some protein, fruit and greens to a blender and you have a well-balanced smoothie. The combinations are endless.
As a general rule the darker the leaf, the more nutrients it contains. It should come as no surprise, then, that iceberg lettuce, with its pale green color, contains less nutrients than some of its counterparts. (See the chart below.)
For those who take blood-thinners, it’s important to discuss your eating habits with your doctor. Vitamin K can interfere with some medications, but in most cases dosages can be adjusted to fit typical eating patterns.
Some people avoid buying greens because they tend to spoil after just a few days. I’d recommend investing in containers that reduce spoilage, such as Tupperware’s Fridge Smart series. (I’ve had mine for more than 10 years now!) But if, on the rare occasion, I’m not able to get to all of my greens before they begin to wilt, my hens will gladly take care of them for me.
Which are your favorite leafy greens?