Green leafy vegetables changed my life. Drastically. I am not kidding, they rock my world. And if there is one thing I almost always suggest to all of my clients, is to introduce them to their diet, every day. Yup, I get that seems like a lot, but trust me if you try it, it will change your life too.
I ate a primarily vegetarian diet for almost 25 years, yet I am embarrassed to say that I only ate green veggies at most 3 times a week. Perhaps for you even 3 times a week would be a lot. I get it. But let’s give you a reason to wanna eat more of these vitamin and mineral-rich superfoods, shall we?
Burns Fat: did you know that green veggies are low in calories yet high in nutrition. This means that they convert fat-storing white cells into fat-burning brown cells. This also means that you can actually burn fat from eating green. Given that greens are also high in fibre means that you will tend to feel full longer.
Cancer Prevention: Most green leafies are full of vitamin k. This vitamin increases health benefits substantially by increasing calcium intake and absorption. Absorbing calcium will in turn decreasing the risk of osteoporosis, decrease inflammation, creating more ease and calm in the cells (when your cells are calm you are too). Most greens also are also high in antioxidants which are excellent in aiding cancer prevention (as well as helping to fight cancer).
Increase Antioxidants: Antioxidants are some of the best cancer-preventing foods. One study showed that as little as 2 to 3 servings per week may decrease stomach, breast, and skin cancer as well as heart disease.
Happier Heart: Eating greens will regulate the production of a hormone called erythropoietin which will actually decrease the blood viscosity (which in turn potentially regulates blood clots and heart attacks). Increased green veggie intake also helps to regulate carb cravings and cholesterol levels.
Feeds your Gut (with the good stuff): A diet rich in veggies, especially varying veggies, will actually increase the different types of good bacteria in the gut (which will improve digestion). This also helps to balance your pH levels (disease proliferates in a highly acidic environment), decrease gut permeability (people with poor digestion actually have food particles that pass through the gut into the blood stream – this is no bueno). More variable veggies will also balance your immune system and give you better bowel movements.
Sun Protection: I know right, this one is odd, but true! This is due to the antioxidants, and the anti-inflammatory properties that veggies bring to the body.
Detoxification: Unfortunately most of us have some toxicity within our bodies, simply due to the toxins that we are exposed to every day. Some people may be more prone to increased toxic build-up (and less able to detox on a daily basis), and for those that this is the case, greens are a true blessing. The chlorophyll found naturally in all greens, neutralizes toxins, as well as binds to them so that the body can dispose of them. We will go more into detoxification, and why it is so important, in our next article.
Fights Diabetes: There are a few darlings in greens that help someone with diabetes. Magnesium, ALA Omega-3 fatty acid, and polyphenols, are all beneficial in managing glycemic load and regulating insulin sensitivity.
Personally I find that eating greens has made me feel so much better that I don’t crave sweets the way that I used to. (I mean my whole life I would always go for the chocolate or the cookies, and now I actually say no to these foods, mostly, because I feel satiated and satisfied. This is a big’un). 😉
Builds Enzymes: Enzymes ignite important chemical reactions, without which, we would be completely unable to digest our food.
Helps Age more Gracefully: We’re all going to get older, which means that we will likely also look and feel older at some stage of our aging process. Part of my work is to help women see the beauty in this process so that we can each find peace as we move into this powerful stage of life.
That said, it can certainly be helpful (for better quality of life if nothing else) if we can create a more graceful aging process through eating a more supportive diet. Vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene, and lutein all influence the body in ways that help to slow down the rate of decay within the body (green veggies contain these). These vitamins also help to increase cognitive function, help with overall cellular support, as well as decrease inflammation. If we had less inflammation in our bodies, we could more readily live to a ripe old age relatively pain-free.
Decrease Risk of Folate Deficiency: Many people are deficient in this B vitamin. Folate is a B vitamin that increases heart health, and decreases the risk of breast, lung and cervical cancer. It also helps to decrease birth defects in newborns, as well as manage digestive issues. Folate is found in most green veggies.
Lifts the Mood: Increasing the folate within your system will in turn increase serotonin levels, which will increase the pleasure center in the brain. Yay all round!
Green veggie options are abundant. Mix them up for optimal success. Here are some to name a few: arugula, beet greens, radicchio, dandelion, parsley, cilantro, lettuce (wild preferred), collards, kale, mustard, chard, spinach.
How to cook them: lightly steam, stir-fry (put in towards the end of the frying time), add to soup, salad, put them in a wrap, make an omelette with them, put them into a smoothie (preferably in summertime).
I highly recommend at least one serving per day of green veggies (preferably 2 or 3), and to eat about 4 cups of cooked vegetables per day. I know that seems like a lot, but I promise you it will be worth it and you will feel like a million bucks.
Side note regarding a sweet breakfast: I used to be a sweet breakfast gal. Smoothies, cereal, pancakes, toast with jam, etc. and thought I would never be able to give this up (I LOVED my sweet breakfast, no wonder because my blood sugar was very low in the mornings). Now I eat eggs and veggies for breaky every day. I am literally full for hours, and feel amazing (my digestion is stronger, which makes me feel better in all aspects of my health). I have not looked back for even a second. The odd day I’ve tried eating a high carb sweet breaky, I feel terrible (in comparison). I am bloated, moody, exhausted, and all round icky feeling. That makes it very worthwhile to take the extra half hour to give my body the veggie TLC it craves. Try it, you just might love it. Oh, and I always make sure that greens are one of the veggies on my plate.
PS. Squeeze some lemon or lime onto your greens if you want to get the available iron they offer, into your body.