Your Guide to Leafy Greens
This handy guide to leafy greens will help you up your daily intake. And no, you won’t have to commit.
Top 10 Leafy Greens
Make sure you’re getting at least a few servings of each, weekly. The more, the better!
This nutrition powerhouse is everything you want in a leafy green. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and bone-boosting K, folate, and potassium. Plus, a normal serving of kale packs more calcium than a glass of milk.
Collards are similar in nutrition to kale, but they have a heartier and chewier texture and a stronger cabbage-like taste. And recent research shows this staple of Southern cuisine may be even better at lowering cholesterol than broccoli and spinach. I love using collard leaves to make wraps. The wide leaves are a perfect swap for tortillas.
3. Turnip Greens
More tender than other greens, turnip greens are sharp-flavored and loaded with vitamins A, C, and K and calcium. Just one cup of turnip greens provides 20% of your daily requirement for vitamin B6.
4. Swiss Chard
Look out for eye-popping red, yellow, orange, or white stalks — a sure sign of freshness. Swiss chard has a beet-like taste and soft texture, and since it weighs in at only 15 calories per ½ cup, eat up! It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and C and delivers more than 20% of your daily requirements for iron.
Popeye was onto something… Weighing in at only 20 calories per serving, spinach is packed with vitamins A and C and folate. Spinach is also rich in iron, which helps transport blood around the body to keep muscles working efficiently. As with Swiss chard, mild heat (keep it below 104 degrees) reduces spinach’s oxalate content, allowing its calcium to be more easily absorbed and used by the body. In fact, just the mild heat generated from juicing and blending these greens into juices and smoothies are great options if you need to boost your calcium intake or if you are prone to kidney stones. Remember that cooking above 104 degrees destroys valuable enzymes and much of the food’s nutrient profile.
6. Mustard Greens
Mustard greens have a similar nutrition profile to turnip greens and collards. They have a peppery taste, but their spiciness can be toned down by adding an acid, like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
7. Bok Choy
Also known as Chinese cabbage or pak choi, bok choy is a mild, slightly sweet cousin of cabbage that is a super source of calcium because it’s low in oxalate — that compound we talked about with Swiss chard and spinach that can block absorption of the mineral. Bok Choy also has 25 kinds of cancer-fighting antioxidants called polyphenols.
With its variety of uses and subtle peppery flavor, watercress packs a healthy punch of vision-protecting carotenoids and compounds that may inhibit the growth of breast cancer tumors. It is also a major source of Vitamins A, C, and K, B-complex vitamins, manganese, and calcium.
A powerful aphrodisiac in Ancient Rome, arugula will definitely add some zest to your salads, pizzas, and pasta dishes. Arugula is loaded with detoxifying enzymes and is high in fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese — all of which are vital for your body, from brain and liver functioning to skin health.
A variety of endive, escarole boasts a crisp texture and robust flavor. Its inner leaves are sweet, while the outer, mature leaves deliver quite a kick to the taste buds. At just 8 calories per uncooked cup, this nutrition superstar supplies fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, B-complex vitamins (which help boost your metabolism), manganese (which regulates blood sugar, metabolizes carbohydrates, and absorbs calcium), helps with vision, and is even being shown to inhibit the growth of certain cancerous cells.
Next up… how to store your leafies to get maximum longevity and benefit: