In tribute to the soon upcoming “green” holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, celebrate by incorporating more green into your diet! (No, unfortunately green beer doesn’t count!)
Green vegetables and fruits contain a number of health-boosting vitamins (like vitamins A, C, and K and folate) and minerals (such as iron, calcium and magnesium), as well as excellent sources of fiber. Research suggests that the nutrients found in dark green vegetables may prevent certain types of cancers and promote heart health. Check out the list below and begin by adding 1-2 green vegetables into your daily food intake! Your body needs a little dietary fat to absorb some of the vitamins found in dark green vegetables, so add a bit of oil (such as olive oil) or homemade ACV salad dressing to your dark green vegetables to make sure your body absorbs all of the vitamins you eat.
- Spinach: We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, but you may be surprised to learn that he may also have been helping to protect himself against inflammatory problems, oxidative stress-related problems, cardiovascular problems, bone problems, and cancers at the same time. Rich in vitamins, particularly Vitamin K, spinach is also concentrated in health-promoting phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids to provide you with powerful antioxidant protection. Enjoy baby spinach in your favorite salads or make a salad made exclusively of baby spinach.
- Kiwi: In the world of phytonutrient research, kiwi has fascinated researchers for its ability to protect DNA in the nucleus of human cells from oxygen-related damage (i.e. maintain youthful skin). Researchers are not yet certain which compounds in kiwi give it this protective antioxidant capacity, but they are sure that this healing property is not limited to those nutrients most commonly associated with kiwi, including its vitamin C or beta-carotene content. However, if you’re looking for a raw Vitamin C boost, you cannot go wrong with kiwi. A single kiwi contain 120% of the recommended DV of Vitamin C!
- Broccoli: It’s no coincidence that more than 300 research studies on broccoli have converged in one unique area of health science—the development of cancer—and its relationship to three metabolic problems in the body. Those three problems are (1) chronic inflammation (2) oxidative stress, and (3) inadequate detoxification. While these types of problems have yet to become part of the public health spotlight, they are essential to understanding broccoli’s unique health benefits. Include broccoli as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis if you want to receive the fantastic health benefits provided by the cruciferous vegetable family.
- Lime: The health benefits of lime include weight loss, skin care, good digestion, relief from constipation, eye care, and treatment of scurvy, piles, peptic ulcer, respiratory disorders, gout, gums, urinary disorders, etc. This sour citrus fruit can do what many specialist medicines cannot. Lime, bearing the scientific name Citrus Aurantifolia, is being used for ages for treatment of various ailments. Lime is consumed throughout the world in sorbets, beverages, refreshing drinks, pickles, jams, jellies, snacks, candies, sugar boiled confectionaries and culinary and the oil extracted from its peel or skin is extensively used in soft drink concentrates, body oils, cosmetics, hair oils, tooth pastes, toilet and beauty soaps, disinfectants, mouth washes, deodorants and innumerable other products. There are many varieties of lime found all over the world, particularly in the tropical and the Mediterranean climates.
- Green Apple: Apples belong to the Rose family of plants and are joined in that family by a wide range of very popular foods, including apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, pears, raspberries, and almonds. Foods in the Rose family are simply too diverse in their nutrient value to allow for any one single recommendation about the number of servings that we should consume from this family on a weekly basis. However, when focusing specifically on apples, several anti-cancer studies show daily intake of this fruit to provide amazing anti-cancer benefits. So there may be some truth to that old phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
- Kale: Kale’s cancer preventive benefits have been clearly linked to its unusual concentration of two types of antioxidants, namely, carotenoids and flavonoids. Within the carotenoids, lutein and beta-carotene are standout antioxidants in kale. These 2 critical carotenoids are key nutrients in protection from oxidative stress and related health issues. Additionally, it only takes 100 calories of kale to provide 25-35% of the recommended omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, otherwise known as alpha-linolenic acid. Kale is a spectacular source of vitamin K (one cup of kale provides far more micrograms of vitamin K than any other green food source) which is important to understand as K is a key nutrient in managing internal inflammation.
- Grapes: Few fruits have garnered as much attention in the health research literature as grapes. Part of the reason may be their widespread presence in diets worldwide. With the exception of Antarctica, grapes are cultivated on all of the earth’s continents, and researchers from many different countries have been especially interested in this food. But an even greater part of the reason involves the amazing nutrient composition of grapes themselves. The wealth of antioxidant nutrients in grapes is somewhat startling! In addition to providing conventional antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and manganese, grapes are filled with antioxidant phytonutrients that range from common carotenoids like beta-carotene to unusual stilbenes like resveratrol, and the total number of different antioxidant nutrients in grapes runs well into the hundreds.
- Asparagus: Asparagus is a perennial garden plant belonging to the Lily family (Liliaceae). While approximately 300 varieties of asparagus have been noted, only 20 are edible. Asparagus contains a unique array of phytonutrients. Like chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke, this fibrous veggie is an excellent source of the digestive support nutrient, inulin. Asparagus also contains anti-inflammatory saponins and flavonoids such as quercetin, rutin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. Asparagus is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory vitamin K, heart-healthy folate, vitamin C, and vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and bone-building copper. Asparagus is also very good source of energy-producing vitamin B1, B2, B6 and B3 as well as heart-healthy potassium, dietary fiber and antioxidant-promoting vitamin E.
- Cucumber: Next to tomatoes, cabbage, and onions, cucumbers are the fourth most widely cultivated vegetable in the world. Cucumbers have not received as much press as other vegetables in terms of health benefits, but this widely cultivated food provides us with a unique combination of nutrients. At the top of the phytonutrient list for cucumbers are its cucurbitacins, lignans, and flavonoids. These three types of phytonutrients found in cucumbers provide us with valuable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits. Cucumber, not unlike many of the other green vegetables, is also an excellent source of vitamin K.
- Sea Vegetables: Why would anyone want to eat sea vegetables? Because they offer one of the broadest ranges of minerals of any food, containing virtually all the minerals found in the ocean. They also offer a variety of unique phytonutrients, including their sulfated polysaccharides (also called fucoidans). Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine and vitamin K, a very good source of the B-vitamin folate, magnesium, and a good source of iron and calcium. They also contain measurable amounts of vitamins C and E.
- Celery: Celery grows to a height of 12 to 16 inches and is composed of leaf-topped stalks arranged in a conical shape that are joined at a common base. It is a biennial vegetable plant that belongs to the Umbelliferae family whose other members include carrots, fennel, parsley and dill. Celery is a very good source of vitamin C, a vitamin that helps to support the immune system. Vitamin C-rich foods like celery may help reduce cold symptoms or severity of cold symptoms (over 20 scientific studies have concluded that vitamin C is a cold-fighter). Vitamin C also prevents the free radical damage that triggers the inflammatory cascade, and is therefore also associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Avocado: Avocado is derived from the Aztec word “ahuacatl”. Avocados are the fruit from Persea americana, a tall evergreen tree that can grow up to 65 feet in height. Avocado has sometimes received a “bad rap” as a vegetable too high in fat. While it is true that avocado is a high-fat food (about 85% of its calories come from fat), the fat contained in avocado is unusual and provides research-based health benefits: heart health, anti-inflammatory support, cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation and anti-cancer benefit. Not to mention the fact that avocados taste amazing and are extremely versatile!
- Zucchini: Members of the Cucurbitaceae family and relatives of both the melon and the cucumber, zucchini is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin A (through its concentration of carotenoid phytonutrients). Zucchini, an extremely versatile summer squash, provides a great combination of conventional antioxidant nutrients. But it also contains an unusual amount of other antioxidant nutrients, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are especially helpful in maintaining eye health, including protection against age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Green Beans: Recent studies have confirmed the presence of lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin in green beans. In some cases, the presence of these carotenoids in green beans is comparable to their presence in other carotenoid-rich vegetables like carrots and tomatoes. The only reason we don’t see these carotenoids is because of the concentrated chlorophyll content of green beans and the amazing shades of green chlorophyll provides. But the area of phytonutrients is where green beans really shine through in their antioxidant value, found in carotenoids (including lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin) and flavonoids (including quercetin, kaemferol, catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins) that have all been shown to have health-supportive antioxidant properties.
- Green Tea: Green tea is particularly rich in health-promoting flavonoids (which account for 30% of the dry weight of a leaf), including catechins and their derivatives. The most abundant catechin in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is thought to play a pivotal role in the green tea’s anticancer and antioxidant effects. Catechins should be considered right alongside of the better-known antioxidants like vitamins E and C as potent free radical scavengers and health-supportive for this reason.
So, if you’re feeling as if you need more “green” put down the celebratory green beer and nourish your body and mind by chosing several of the above listed fruits and veggies!