5 Leafy Greens to Add to Your Diet For Added Nutrition

September 26, 2022

Did you know that the vitamins and nutrients in kale, spinach, and other leafy greens are some of the most under-represented foods in Americans’ diets? This is alarming because these nutrient-dense greens are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, manganese, potassium, copper, and several other great things your body needs. Fortunately, there are simple ways to get more greens into your diet. Before we dive into a list of five leafy greens you should add to your diet-- along with suggestions for how to do so -- let’s take a quick look at why these greens are such nutritional powerhouses.

fresh spinach leaves in a white bowl.

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

Why Leafy Greens Are Good For You

Leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. Still, they also contain antioxidants that help fight damage from free radicals. These antioxidants can be enormously influential in protecting against diseases like cancer and heart disease. Leafy greens are also low in calories and carbs, which makes them a perfect choice for people following a weight-loss plan. They’re also very affordable and easy to prepare. In addition to all these benefits, leafy greens are also high in fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar and promote healthy digestion. They’re also high in protein, which means they can make an excellent choice for vegetarian and vegan diets.

Kale

Kale is a vegetable that many people have probably heard of, but few people eat regularly enough. It’s not surprising, as it has quite a bold and earthy flavor that not everyone likes. But with a bit of creativity, you can easily find ways to sneak this superfood into your diet. Kale can be baked, sautéed, boiled, or even eaten raw with a bit of lemon juice. Kale can be eaten as a side dish, added to soups and stews, or even ground into a green smoothie. This superfood is high in vitamins K, A, and C, as well as iron, manganese, and several other nutrients.

Spinach

Popeye was definitely onto something: spinach is truly a superfood. This leafy green is exceptionally high in vitamins A and C, iron, manganese, and many other essential nutrients. Spinach can be used in various dishes, including salads and sandwiches. You can also add it to soups and stews to give them a nutritional boost. Spinach can be eaten raw, but cooking it can help bring out its flavor. Since spinach wilts down significantly when cooked, it’s best added at the end of your cooking time.

Swiss Chard

You may not have heard of Swiss chard before, but it’s worth adding to your diet. This leafy green is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, iron, and fiber. Swiss chard has a milder flavor than many other greens, making it a perfect choice for people who aren’t interested in a “bitter” vegetable. Most people cook Swiss chard, but it can also be eaten raw with a bit of lemon juice added. When cooking it, add it at the end so that it wilts down and becomes soft, but this is the best swiss chard recipe for those new to this superfood.

Collard Greens

Collard greens are another leafy green that many people have never heard of. They are definitely worth adding to your diet. Collard greens are rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. They also contain several antioxidants that can help fight off disease and aging. Collard greens come from a variety of the same plant that broccoli does, so they have a similar taste. They can be eaten raw or cooked; many people enjoy them in soups and stews.

Beet Leaves

Beet greens are a type of leafy green that many people don’t even realize is edible. But they are, and they’re also a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as manganese and copper. Beets are often served as a side dish or used in salads, but their leaves are also edible and offer many of the same benefits. You can add beet leaves to sandwiches as a topping, or you can add them to salads or soups as a garnish. Be sure to remove and discard the stalks before eating.

Conclusion

Leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help protect against diseases like cancer and heart disease. Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, and beet leaves are all great examples of leafy greens that should be included in every diet.

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