The Importance of eating Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables are perhaps the most potent super food on the planet. They are also the most ignored and avoided foods as well. These vegetables are packed with vitamins A, C, E and K, minerals, and an abundance of phytochemicals so vast that nutrition professionals are still trying to uncover all of their goodness. Examples of dark green, leafy vegetables are kale, bok choy, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and Swiss chard. Does your family consume these green foods on a regular basis? If you are like many families in the US, you may need to get more of these important vegetables on a regular basis.
Green foods are crucial to our health for a plethora of reasons including their role in strengthening the immune system, cancer prevention, improved blood circulation, blood purification, lowering cholesterol, promotion of healthy intestinal flora, increased energy, detoxification through improved liver, gall bladder functions, kidney function, and even clearing congestion.
The dark greens supply a significant amount of folate, a B vitamin that promotes heart health and helps prevent certain birth defects. Folate is also necessary for DNA duplication and repair which protects against the development of cancer. Several large studies have shown that high intakes of folate may lower the risk of colon polyps by 30 to 40 percent compared to low intakes of this vitamin. Other research suggests that diets low in folate may increase the risk of cancers of the breast, cervix and lung.
The vitamin K contents of dark green leafy vegetables provide a number of health benefits including: protecting bones from osteoporosis and helping to prevent against inflammatory diseases.
Because of their high content of antioxidants, green leafy vegetables may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Studies have shown that eating 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer. These same antioxidants have also been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease.
Perhaps one of the most appealing benefits of dark green leafy vegetables is their low calorie and carbohydrate contents and their low glycemic index. These features make them an ideal food to facilitate achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. Adding more green vegetables to a balanced diet increases the intake of dietary fiber which, in turn, regulates the digestive system and aids in bowel health and weight management. These properties are particularly advantageous for those with type-2 diabetes.
ADHD, Autism, and Toxin Overload: A recent 2010 Study in Pediatrics firmly concluded that there is now a direct link between pesticide consumption and the onset of ADHD. Our children are now exposed to more pesticides and chemicals than ever before. In Dr. Robert Melillo’s new book, Autism, he writes about the role these environmental factors play in preconception and how they may impact your child’s health. For children with Autism or ADHD, greens are of even greater importance. Not only are green leafy vegetables a top pick for their stealthy nutritional content, but they are highly regarded for addressing the digestive and/or toxicity issues which generally occur among children with disorders on the spectrum.
Our liver is powerhouse filter, pivotal in eliminating toxins in the body and crucial for digestion. Many of the children we test at Brain Balance show signs of liver toxicity and impaired digestion. Please understand, liver toxicity does not mean a child has liver disease, but rather, the liver is burdened with toxins that make it sluggish. When the liver becomes sluggish, it results in an impaired ability to perform its job. Toxins could come from the varnish on your floor, fertilizer sprayed on the lawn, perfumes, dyes, foods, cleaning products and the like. Aside from toxin removal, the liver plays a huge role in digestion. So, when the liver is compromised, digestion is too. The good news is the liver is amazingly regenerative. So no matter what you may have consumed in the past, it’s possible to start improving the health of your liver by making good choices about what you put in your body.
Not sure how to get your kids to eat green foods? Here are some of my favorite tips for incorporating greens into a child’s diet.
Add them to your child’s favorite soup. Does your child like chicken soup? Simply chop up some spinach and add to your next homemade soup. Eating organic canned soup? You can add anything from kale to swiss chard. It does very little to change the flavor and most kids are fine with it.
Add greens to your smoothies: Simply blend some pineapple, apple, coconut water, and kale for a refreshing taste.
Try Roasting Broccoli: This solution is simple and really tasty! Many kids like the rich, sweet flavor of roasted broccoli. Pair with some grilled chicken, peppers, and roasted pineapple, and you’ve got a great meal. Simply chop 1 bunch of broccoli, toss with 2 tsp olive oil and sea salt. Serve warm.
How Much Green Should You Eat?
The USDA food pyramid suggests a minimum of 3 servings of leafy greens per week. Most Americans fall short of this recommendation. Most health experts agree that the amount of leafy greens that we should consume is likely much higher than just 3 servings per week.