13 Healthy Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are a type of plant that contains a lot of nutrients. Green leafy vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber but low in calories. Eating a diet rich in leafy greens can offer numerous health benefits including reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and mental decline.
Green leafy vegetables, also called leafy greens, salad greens, pot herbs, vegetable greens, or simply greens, are plant leaves eaten as a vegetable, sometimes accompanied by tender petioles and shoots.
The term “green leafy vegetables” is typically used to describe plants from the family of vegetables called the cruciferous family which includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, bok choy and more.
They are often used as a side dish or in salads. They contain many minerals and vitamins, such as calcium, vitamin K, and vitamin A.
List of Green Leafy Vegetables
Kale is a vegetable belonging to the cabbage (Brassica) family. It has tough stems and long, curling leaves. It is rich in nutrients, including fiber and antioxidants. A study suggests that consuming high amounts of dietary fiber may help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Kale is considered one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet due to its many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It also contains antioxidants such as lutein and beta-carotene, which reduce the risk of diseases caused by oxidative stress. To get the most out of kale, it’s best eaten raw because cooking can reduce its nutritional profile.
One cup (67 grams) of raw kale contains 684% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 206% of the DV for vitamin A and 134% of the DV for vitamin C.
2. Collard Greens:
Collard greens are loose leaf greens, related to kale and spring greens. They have thick leaves that taste slightly bitter.
Collard greens are a good source of calcium and the vitamins A, B9 (folate) and C. They’re also one of the best sources of vitamin K when it comes to leafy greens. In fact, one cup (190 grams) of cooked collard greens packs 1,045% of the DV for vitamin K.
Collard greens are a type of cabbage and thus come from the same plant family. They have large leaves and stems which can make consumers want to peel off the entire leaf before eating it. Collards can be eaten raw but they can be tough & chewy. Most people braise or steam them out of habit, but they also provide a lot of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and calcium.
Microgreens are a type of small, immature green that can measure up to 3 inches. They are often used as a garnish or decoration, but they have many more applications. In addition to adding color to any dish or plate, microgreens can be used as a natural source of flavor and nutrients. The refreshing taste of these crunchy vegetables make them an excellent addition to any salad or sandwich, and they are also perfect for substituting lettuce in wraps and burritos.
Despite their small size, they’re full of color, flavor and nutrients. In fact, one study found that microgreens contain up to 40 times more nutrients compared to their mature counterparts. Some of these nutrients include vitamins C, E and K. Microgreens can be grown in the comfort of your own home all year round, making them easily available.
Spinach is a popular leafy green vegetable and is easily incorporated into a variety of dishes, including soups, sauces, smoothies and salads. Spinach is great leafy green rich in many vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, folic acid and calcium. It’s also packed with folate, which plays a key role in red blood cell production and the prevention of neural tube defects in pregnancy.
A research suggests that spinach may help delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It also contains carotenoids, which may help prevent eye diseases and maintain eye health.
Its nutrient profile is impressive with one cup (30 grams) of raw spinach providing 181% of the Daily Value for vitamin K, 56% of the Daily Value for vitamin A and 13% of the Daily Value for manganese.
Cabbage is a member of the Brassica family, cabbage is rich in nutrients and has a light crunchy texture. Cabbage is formed of clusters of thick leaves that come in green, white and purple colors. All of its variety can also provide several health benefits – including various anti-cancer components as well as more fuel for body cells than sugar alone.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbages contain sulforaphane, a compound that may lower a person’s risk for cancer. A study suggests that this compound can reduce a person’s risk for breast cancer. It may also protect cells from oxidative damage during cancer radiation therapy and may lower the risk for stroke and high blood pressure.
Another benefit of cabbage is that it can be fermented and turned into sauerkraut, which provides numerous health benefits, such as improving your digestion and supporting your immune system. It may even aid weight loss
6. Beet Greens:
Beet leaves are edible and have an earthy taste. People can add them to salads and soups or saute or steam them for a side dish. They are rich in nutrients, including antioxidants. Indeed, they have an impressive nutrient profile, but while beets are commonly used in dishes, the leaves are often ignored.
Considering that they’re edible and rich in potassium, calcium, riboflavin, fiber, and vitamins A and K, just one cup of cooked beet greens contains 220% of the DV for vitamin A, 37% of the DV for potassium, and 17% of the DV for fiber. They also contain the antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein, which may reduce the risk of eye disorders, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Watercress is an aquatic plant from the Brassicaceae family and thus similar to arugula and mustard greens. Watercress is a powerhouse fruit or vegetable. It belongs to the cruciferous family and has an extremely peppery; spicy taste.
Due to its bitter and slightly spicy flavor, watercress makes a great addition to neutrally flavored foods. This makes it a perfect choice for cooking and on salads that need some extra spiciness
Like other cruciferous plants, watercress may protect cells against chemotherapy-related damage and exercise-induced oxidative stress and help prevent liver toxicity.
It is said to have healing properties and has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. However, no human studies have confirmed these benefits so far.
8. Romaine lettuce:
Romaine lettuce cos lettuce is a common leafy vegetable with sturdy, dark leaves with a firm center rib. It has a crunchy texture, mild-flavored and is a popular lettuce, particularly in Caesar salads. It is high in antioxidants, which can help eliminate free radicals, boost immunity, and protect against cancer.
It also contains potassium, an important mineral for heart health, and beta carotene, which is essential for eye health. It is a good source of vitamins A and K, with one cup (47 grams) providing 82% and 60% of the DVs for these vitamins respectively.
9. Swiss chard:
Swiss chard has dark leaves and thick stalks in various colors, which is why some people call it rainbow chard. Others may call it sea kale or leaf beet. The leaves have an earthy flavor, and the stalks taste sweet. It’s often used in Mediterranean cooking and belongs to the same family as beets and spinach.
It has an earthy taste and is rich in minerals and vitamins, such as potassium, manganese and the vitamins A, C and K. Aside from containing many nutrients, it also contains compounds called polyphenols. A study suggests that these compounds have the potential to stop cancer cell growth.
Swiss chard also contains a unique flavonoid called syringic acid, a compound that may be beneficial for lowering blood sugar levels. While many people typically throw away the stems of the Swiss chard plant, they’re crunchy and highly nutritious.
Arugula is a leafy green from the Brassicaceae family that goes by many different names, such as rocket, colewort, roquette, rucola and rucoli. Arugula, or rocket, is a versatile salad green with tender leaves and a sharp, peppery flavor. People often eat it raw, while others may add it to soups and pasta. It offers the same benefits as other cruciferous vegetables.
It has a slightly peppery taste and small leaves that can easily be incorporated into salads or used as a garnish. It can also be used cosmetically and medicinally.
It is packed with nutrients such as pro-vitamin A carotenoids and vitamins B9 and K. It’s also one of the best sources of dietary nitrates, a compound that turns into nitric oxide in your body. Though the benefits of nitrates are debated, some studies have found that they may help increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure by widening your blood vessels.
11. Bok choy:
Also called Chinese cabbage or pak choi, bok choy is another cruciferous vegetable packed with many vitamins and minerals. It has thick, dark-green leaves that make a great addition to soups and stir-fries.
Bok choy contains the mineral selenium, which plays an important role in cognitive function, immunity, cancer prevention and protect against oxidative damage and infection. In addition, selenium is important for proper thyroid gland function. This gland is located in your neck and releases hormones that play a key role in metabolism.
An observational study found that people with low levels of selenium are more likely to experience thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism, autoimmune thyroiditis and enlarged thyroid.
12. Turnip greens:
Turnip greens are the leaves of the turnip plant, which is a root vegetable similar to beetroot. Turnip greens are considered a cruciferous vegetable, which have been shown to decrease your risk of health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and inflammation.
They have a strong and spicy flavor and are often enjoyed cooked rather than raw. These greens pack more nutrients than the turnip itself, including calcium, manganese, folate and the vitamins A, C and K.
Turnip greens also contain several antioxidants including gluconasturtiin, glucotropaeolin, quercetin, myricetin and beta-carotene — which all play a role in reducing stress in your body. Turnip greens can be used as a replacement for kale or spinach in most recipes.
Endive (or N-dive) is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Cichorium family. It’s similar in taste to chicory, but is known for its bitter flavor. Endive can be eaten raw or cooked, and is typically enjoyed as a part of a salad or other dish. It’s also a source of kaempferol, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce inflammation and inhibit the growth of cancer cells in test-tube studies
Just one-half cup (25 grams) of raw endive leaves packs 72% of the Daily Value for vitamin K, 11% of the Daily Value for vitamin A and 9% of the Daily Value for folate.
Leafy greens are healthy sources of carbohydrates. They also typically contain less fat and calories than many other foods but can contain protein and other nutrients. A study notes that green leafy vegetables often contain bioactive compounds such as niacin, omega-3-fatty acids, flavonoids, carotenoids, sulforaphane, and others.
These compounds can provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may lead to a vast array of health benefits, such as a reduced risk for health conditions like stroke, anemia, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and diabetes. They may also help improve gut health, immunity, and heart, bone, and healthy skin. A study found that a daily serving of leafy greens may help slow cognitive decline that can come with aging.
Green leafy vegetables are nutrient-packed foods that may offer a variety of health benefits. Regularly consuming servings of greens can be beneficial for health and may help prevent some health conditions. They are packed with important and powerful nutrients that are critical for good health.
Fortunately, many leafy greens can be found year round, and they can easily be incorporated into your meals in surprising and diverse ways. To reap the many impressive health benefits of leafy greens, make sure to include a variety of these vegetables in your diet.
Although greens are nutritious, they can interact with certain drugs, and overconsumption can have side effects. Some greens contain antinutrients that limit nutrient absorption. However, a person can typically remedy this by adequately cooking the vegetables.
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