This article discusses how eating leafy greens can benefit both your mind and body.
Many of us were told by our caregivers to, “eat your greens!” as children so that we could grow up big and strong, and in popular culture, characters like Popeye lauded the strength-giving nature of greens! As it turns out, they weren’t completely off base. The truth is, eating leafy green vegetables is beneficial to all ages as they are packed with essential nutrients that fuel our bodies. While kale is the popular choice for a green superfood, and Popeye loves his spinach, there are tons of leafy options that you can add to several different dishes that aren’t just salad. Plus, what’s good for the gut is also good for the mind, helping manage stress during a particularly hectic work week. So, get ready to learn to love leafy greens and start reaping the benefits today!
A common green superfood that may be first to come to mind is kale, and for good reason! It packs a nutritious punch with calcium, fibre , iron, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin K.1 This is important because our bodies do not produce vitamins and minerals on their own and they must come from an outside source. However, the taste of kale isn’t for everyone and leaves much to be desired (pun intended), regardless of how it’s dressed up. If you’re itching to get some into your diet, try switching to baby kale as it is much more tender and has a different flavour to it.
Still not satisfied? No worries! There are still plenty of leafy green options that you can incorporate into your diet to achieve a similar effect, including, but not limited to:1
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Bok choy
- Beet greens
- Turnip greens
- Mustard greens
- Swiss chard
Keeping these in your rotation of vegetables can lower the risk of stomach, breast, and skin cancer when eating as little as 2-3 servings a week, according to the US Department of Agriculture.1
Aside from all the physical benefits, leafy greens can also aid your mental state at work or at home. Not only do they improve cognitive skills such as memory and critical thinking, but can also help reduce stress during a busy week. The fibre from these vegetables acts as a prebiotic which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria and microorganisms, otherwise known as microflora, in the intestines which encourages a stress-relieving effect on the body. This goes to show how connected your gut is to your mental health, and taking care of both means fueling your body with the right stuff.
It is undeniable that leafy greens are a great source of vitamins and minerals for overall wellness, whether you’re a growing kid or a health-conscious adult. Even if you’re still a picky eater there are several ways in which you can incorporate more leafy greens into your diet, including tacos, fajitas, soups, pasta, and smoothies. How you choose to consume these greens doesn’t matter as long as you are using the right ingredients to get the most out of your food. So long as you stay creative and conscious of how you include your greens there are unlimited ways to fight off ailments, destress, think clearly, and meet your health goals.
If you’re interested in learning more about the superfoods that will make a super-you, stay tuned for the next article in our series: Berries!