Since this is the month we celebrate green, let’s talk greens. I don’t mean the ones you chase the little white balls that keep going into the woods on. (Or is it just me that has to do that?) I mean the greens you eat. Or don’t.
Sure, you know about broccoli, spinach, and salad greens. I bet you know the latest rage is kale. How about swiss chard, mustard greens, bok choy, and collards? Did you know you have free greens right in your spring time lawn in the form of dandelion greens?
You don’t have dandelions? We’ll have to chat about that another time.
Now I know you’re on the edge of your seat anticipating the direction in which this is going to take. Greens! You’re thinking. How could this possibly get any more exciting?
Lest I hold you in the perils of suspense any longer, let me explain why you need to become friendlier with green leaves.
For optimal health, you should aim for 40g of fiber a day. Most Americans get about half that. Fiber is important because it keeps all systems moving right along. While foods like oats, beans, and nuts provide the soluble fiber that keeps you feeling full longer, the insoluble fiber in greens serves as the broom that whisks the leftovers away to their final aquatic destination.
Greens are also heart-healthy. Homocysteine, an amino acid produced as a by-product of the metabolic process, is toxic to our bodies in high levels and these increased levels have been associated with heart disease. The B-vitamins and folic acid (Folic has the same Latin derivative as foliage.) found in greens are key sources in taking down those toxins.
What about calcium? Although dairy products are often touted as the best source for this mineral, it’s a better idea to make like a cow and get your calcium from plants. Cooked greens not only offer calcium, but supply our bodies with Vitamin K, an essential nutrient that aids in the absorption of calcium. A number of studies, like the Framingham Osteoporosis Study of the Offspring Cohort, have found correlations between vitamin K deficiencies and low bone density. It appears that calcium isn’t the whole story.
Remember what it is that makes greens green? Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Buzz. Did you say chlorophyll? You are correct! What’s the big deal with chlorophyll, you ask? (I love how attentive you are, by the way.) Chlorophyll helps in the growth and repair of cells, detoxifies the blood, aids in carrying oxygen to blood cells, and prevents carcinogens from binding to DNA. Now there’s a mouthful of information you never learned in botany class!
Greens are also a great source of iron, protein, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Daily discoveries continue to be made about the benefits of vegetables. It’s a great idea to have a balance of cooked and raw, as each preparation appears to provide its own benefits.
So go ahead and celebrate a little Irish this month, but remember to make nice with the leafy, edible green stuff every month.
Donna Morin Miller is an award-winning freelance writer and owner of Better Off Well health counseling services. She advises that if you value your life, you stay off the golf course when she’s playing. Find her athttp://betteroffwell.com or at Better Off Well on Facebook.