As children, we were always told to eat our greens. However, rather than doing what we were told, many of us would take to pushing them around the plate and avoiding them instead! Leafy greens do appear to have made a comeback of late though. Munching away on kale and spinach has become cool, featuring on many a Pinterest board or Instagram account. It seems leafy greens are certainly flavour of the month, and with good reason! Leafy greens are packed with health benefits so whether you blitz them into your smoothie or add them to your salad, there are plenty of good reasons to make them a firm part of your daily diet.
They help lower cholesterol
Greens like kale and mustard greens are known for their cholesterol-lowering properties. This is because the fibre contained in them binds with bile acid in the liver (created by cholesterol), meaning more of it will be excreted from the liver. This leads to a reduction in cholesterol levels. It’s recommended that you steam these greens rather than eat them raw to maximise your body’s nutrient absorption.
They help look after eye health
You may have heard that carrots are good for your eye health, but did you know that leafy greens are too? Kale, mustards greens, dandelions and Swiss chard feature lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids. Carotenoids help the eyes by filtering lights which could cause eye damage, reduce glare discomfort and boost your distance vision. If you work at a screen regularly and find yourself struggling, you may want to try adding leafy greens to your diet to see if they make a difference.
Leafy greens burn fat
If you’re looking to lose weight then eating leafy greens could be of use to you. Not only are they low calorie, but they also feature nitrites which are capable of converting white cells, which store fat, into brown cells, which burn fat. Eating them as a part of a balanced diet could help you to lose some weight, and they are very easy to incorporate into smoothies, stir fries, soups and salads.
They contain energy-boosting B vitamins
Leafy greens such as escarole (a sort of frisee which is crunchy and mild green in colour) contain a high volume of vitamin B5. This vitamin helps to break carbohydrates down into glucose to help the body produce energy. As these vitamins aren’t stored in the body, a healthy daily supply will help keep your energy levels high.
Bitter tasting leafy greens are good for bone health
Some greens which feature a more bitter flavour are actually high in calcium. It’s not always possible to obtain your recommended daily intake from one portion. However, adding greens to your diet can certainly boost your calcium levels, without having to rely on dairy and other foods typically associated with calcium. Getting the right level of calcium in your diet can help boost bone strength and protect against conditions such as osteoporosis and other debilitating bone conditions.
Leafy greens may be not everyone’s favourite food, but they do have a number of very important health benefits which make them a key part of our diet. Being low in calorie, fat and sugar free, they make a great addition to most meals and you can find plenty of different ways to eat them. For some healthy meal ideas check out the change4Life Smart Recipes tool from the NHS which is packed with great tips and ideas for planning your daily meals.