Green leafy vegetables are considered as the most potent health foods in the world. Unfortunately, they’ve been often ignored and avoided. Even those who claim they eat them do so once in a while, probably once a week.
Green leafy vegetables include spinach, kale, dandelion greens, Swiss chard, beat greens, collard greens, turnip greens, bokchoi, parsley, lettuce, watercress and many others. They come in different flavours: mild or strong, bitter, sweet, peppery or earthy. They can be eaten raw, cooked, steamed, stir-fried or sautéed. Some people prefer to blend them, together with their favourite fruits, to make delicious fruit smoothies. Some prefer to make delicious and tasty soups with them, while adding some other non-leafy vegetables of their choice like carrots, peas or mushroom.
Let’s look at 7 reasons green leafy vegetables are very important to mankind.
¨ They are very nutritious. They contain significant amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We can get vitamins A, C, E, K and many of the B complex vitamins from green leafy vegetables. Minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium are also present in high quantity.
¨ They are a natural source of energy.
¨ They build up the immune system of the body. Green leafy vegetables contain a high amount of phytochemicals (also called phytonutrients) such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene. Phytochemicals are chemicals present in plants that protect or prevent them from diseases. Plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves but studies have proved that they can also protect humans against diseases.These phytochemicals in green leafy vegetables containantioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals; thereby reducing the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, urinary tract infections and rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, these antioxidants have shown from studies to treat diabetes and hypertension; decrease cholesterol levels and fight the signs of aging.
¨ They help in building strong bones. They contain calcium and a high level of vitamin K which is necessary for the production of osteocalcin (an essential protein for bone growth).
¨ They are valuable for people with type 2 diabetes because of their high magnesium content. They also prevent diseases such migraine headaches, cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease, to mention but a few.
¨ They are the best source of folic acid. Folic acid is essential for the general wellbeing of the human body, and even more essential to pregnant women for the prevention of birth defects such as spina bifida.
¨ They aid in weight loss. This is because they are very low in calories, low in fat, high in protein and an excellent source of fibre. If you want to lose that weight, include those green leaves in your weight loss plan.
Health, they say, is wealth. Any food that can help you lose weight, reduce your risk of cancer and heart-related diseases, make you look better, feel better and younger is worth eating every day. Include green leafy vegetables as part of your daily diet for a healthy younger you.