Green vegetables are the foods most missing in modern diets. Learning to cook and eat greens is essential to creating health. When you nourish yourself with greens, you will naturally consume less junk and foods that make you sick. Greens help build and strengthen the blood and respiratory systems. They are especially good for city people who rarely see fields of green in open countryside. Green is associated with spring, the time of renewal, refreshment and vital energy. In Asian medicine, green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity.
Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phyto-chemicals.
Some of the benefits from eating dark leafy greens are:
- Blood purification
- Cancer prevention
- Improved circulation
- Strengthened immune system
- Promotion of healthy intestinal flora
- Promotion of subtle, light and flexible energy
- Lifted spirit and elimination of depression
- Improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function
- Cleared congestion, especially in lungs by reducing mucus
There are so many greens to choose from. Find greens that you love and eat them often. When you get bored with your favorites, be adventurous and try greens that you’ve never heard of before. Broccoli is very popular among adults and children. Each stem is like a tree trunk, giving you strong, grounding energy. Rotate between bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, dandelion and other. Arugula, endive, chicory, lettuce, mesclun and wild greens are generally eaten raw, but can be consumed in any creative way you enjoy. Spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens are best eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid, which depletes calcium from bones and teeth, and may lead to osteoporosis. Cook these vegetables with something rich like oil, butter, or animal products. This will balance the effect of the oxalic acid.
When some people hear “leafy green vegetables,” they often think of iceberg lettuce, but the ordinary, pale lettuce in restaurant salads doesn’t have the power-packed goodness of other greens. Get into the habit of adding these dark, leafy green vegetables to your daily diet. Try it out for a month and see how you feel.
Modified from “Glorious Greens” handout from Institute of Integrative Nutrition