Move Over Kale: Four Healthy Greens You Need to Try
If you haven’t added healthy greens to your eating plan, you’re missing out! They are not only incredibly nutritious, they are readily available, inexpensive, and delicious. You know the most common leafy greens such as kale, spinach, broccoli, and lettuce. There are articles about them everywhere and their benefits have been proven beyond a doubt.
Today, I want to talk to you about healthy greens you might not have considered yet. These might be a little harder to find unless you have a good health food market near you. If you can’t find them, the standard greens are still an amazing (and energizing) choice.
Part of the sunflower family, dandelion greens resemble arugula leaves. They’ve been part of holistic medicine texts since the 10th century and are readily available in the wild if you can’t find them at your grocer or farmer’s market.
They are low in calories and high in nutrients such as vitamin A, C, K, and fiber. Naturally purifying for the blood, dandelion greens are also a great choice for brain health, protection to the soft tissues like the skin, mucous membranes, and lungs, as well showing strong anti-cancer ability according to data published by the International Journal of Oncology. Their potassium and iron content make them a no-brainer for heart health.
Researchers with the University of Windsor in Canada found that dandelion root extract induced apoptosis (cell death) in leukemia cells. Another study from the same university discovered that drug-resistant skin cancer cells respond to dandelion root extract.
Dandelion greens are a good addition to other lettuce in your salad, pureed into soups and shakes, and added as toppers to casseroles and sandwiches.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named watercress the most nutrient-dense vegetable on the planet. Packed with vitamin A, C, and K, they also have pretty good supplies of plant-based calcium and manganese. From a nutritional standpoint, it is similar to kale and spinach.
Technically, it’s a member of the cabbage family. The mild, peppery flavor that makes it a great option for salads and as a topping on your favorite sandwich. Studies have determined that it has natural cancer fighter due to its’ unusually high antioxidant ability.
In one trial, researchers tested these benefits on smokers and non-smokers for eight weeks with raw watercress. All participants benefited but the smokers showed even greater benefits since this healthy green helps to prevent cellular damage. There are few things more damaging to your cells than smoking. It’s also a good choice for those looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight since it packs powerful nutrition for very few calories.
These healthy greens have a flavor that is closer to beets and are related to beets and spinach. They cook up like spinach due to their more fragile texture from the other greens on our list. They supply you with ample amounts of vitamin A, C, K, and calcium.
If you’re looking to preserve bone health, Swiss chard is an outstanding choice. The combination of K and calcium work together to prevent cellular breakdown in bones and joints. Naturally anti-inflammatory and with a healthy dose of potassium per serving, this healthy green is heart protective and helps to regulate blood sugar. They show promise in lowering LDL “bad” cholesterol while helping to maintain strong levels of HDL “good” cholesterol. They’re also great for your skin, hair, and nail health.
Swiss chard can be sautéed, steamed, boiled, or roasted and still maintain their nutritional value. Low in calories, high in nutrition, these healthy greens need to be on your shopping list!
MUSTARD, COLLARD, and TURNIP GREENS
These are a regular staple in southern cooking and if you haven’t picked them up at your grocer, you need to consider adding them to your meal plan today. They are inexpensive, widely available, and some of the most powerful healthy greens out there.
Nutrient-dense, low in calories, and with an excellent ranking on the glycemic index, greens are considered a “free” food for diabetics. You can eat a large amount (depending on how they’re prepared) without raising glucose levels. They are delicious and similar in overall nutrition to kale and cabbage with their heavy content of vitamins A, C, and K. You get a lot of healthy goodness like digestion aid, bone strengthening, and brain protection, without the calories and sugar bump.
They can be used in salads, lightly sautéed as a crunchy side in place of spinach, added to all sorts of recipes that call for other greens, and remain hearty for longer than the more delicate varieties. They range in flavor from a mild cabbage taste to one with peppery undertones and you’ll find no end of recipes if you search online. My preference is the milder (but still nutrition heavy) turnip green cooked with diced turnips.
Turnip Greens with Diced Turnips
- 1 large bunch of turnip greens (rinsed and roughly chopped)
- 1 large onion (finely chopped)
- 2-4 turnips (cleaned and large diced)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add all ingredients to a large stockpot and cover with filtered water.
- Bring to a boil.
- Cover, reduce heat to medium.
- Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and scoop cooked greens and turnips from water into serving bowl.
- An excellent accompaniment to any meat, seafood, or as part of a vegetarian diet.
It’s so easy to add healthy greens to your eating plan and they are some of the most beneficial foods you can add to your diet. You get a lot of antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory action with high vitamin and mineral content, few calories, and no processed food chemicals. Easy to make, easy to find, and delicious…you just can’t go wrong.