“Going Green”- it’s not just about being kind to the environment… it’s about getting more dark- leafy greens or “super foods” into your diet that nourish your body with essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to help prevent diseases like cancer and heart disease Some of the more hard-working greens include spinach, collards, kale, mustard greens and rapini. In addition to being full of vitamins, dark-leafy greens are naturally low in calories, salt, and fat and are a good source of fibre.

Here are 10 quick facts about why dark- leafy greens are so good for you:

  1. Are naturally low in salt and fat.
  2. Are a good source of fibre.
  3. Are rich in vitamins A, C, K and folate.
  4. Are high in the minerals calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium.
  5. Offer protection against heart disease.
  6. Can help slow insulin resistance, which can often be a pre-cursor to diabetes.
  7. May help decrease the risk of developing pancreatic and prostate cancer.
  8. Are so low in calories that they are often considered a “freebie” in most diets.
  9. Are rich in protective antioxidants such as beta carotene and lutein, which help prevent many chronic diseases.
  10. May help improve memory.

Tips:

  • Canada’s Food Guide recommends that people eat a minimum 7 fruit and vegetable servings a day (and at least ½ cup of that consist of dark green vegetables)
  • The darker the greens, the greater the nutrition.

Important Note: Greens are a source of vitamin K which plays a role in healthy blood clotting. Individuals taking the anticoagulant medication Coumadin should consult their family doctor before increasing the amount of leafy greens they eat.

Source: http://www.dietitian.com/vitamink.html#.VIH0shF0xdg

Dark-Leafy Greens Detailed Health Benefits & References: Alkaline

Full of vitamins and minerals  

  • Contain folate, an important B vitamin that plays a role in heart health (Beck 2008), and can reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the developing fetus. In addition to eating foods rich in folate it is recommended that women of child bearing age take a folic acid supplement daily
    Source: Preventing Heart Disease through Diet and Nutrition
  • Rich source of vitamin A which plays an important role in healthy eyesight including night vision. It also plays a role in healthy skin.
    Source: http://www.amdcanada.com/template.php?lang=eng&section=4&subSec= 5d&content=4_5
  • Source of vitamin C which is an important antioxidant that protects our bodies from diseases like cancer and heart disease. People with higher levels of vitamin C in their blood appear to have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke (Beck 2008). Vitamin C may reduce how long a cold lasts or how severe the cold symptoms become.). It’s also needed to keep bones, teeth and gums healthy
    Source: Dietitians of Canada, 2008
  • Rich in vitamin K, which helps cells throughout your body take in calcium. It is particularly useful for those who need to boost their calcium intake (osteoporosis) or have hypothyroidism conditions. Most Asian cultures don’t consume much dairy products, but they do eat lots of greens which helps them with their calcium intake. Vitamin K is also known to slow the development of insulin resistance which can often be a pre-cursor to diabetes.
    Sources: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/131033.php
  • Source of calcium which is a mineral needed for healthy bones and teeth as well as for normal muscle contraction, blood clotting and nerve impulses. Bones reach their peak mass between the ages of 19-30. One in four women over the age of 50 has osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become weaker and break more easily. Therefore it is important to eat foods that provide calcium.
    Source: www.osteoporosis.ca.
  • Source of iron which is the nutrient needed to make hemoglobin. Hemobglobin carries oxygen from your lungs to all the cells in your body. Not eating enough foods containing iron can put you at risk for iron deficiency
    Source: Dietitians of Canada, 2008
  • Source of potassium: Eating a healthy diet that includes foods high in potassium and low in sodium may help to reduce high blood pressure. Leafy green vegetables are a source of potassium.
    Source: Health Canada

Rich in phytochemicals

High in fibre

  • Source of fibre which is essential to good digestion, bowel health, blood sugar and weight control.  Dark-leafy green vegetables are a source of potassium.
    Source: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/
  • Dark -leafy greens contain very few carbohydrates, much of which is offset by its high fibre content -so much so that the leafy greens are generally considered a “freebie” vegetable in most low-carbohydrate diets.
    Source: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dark-leafy-greens

Help with Cancer Prevention

Other Benefits

  • The nutrients, vitamins and minerals found in dark-leafy greens have also been known to aid in helping alleviate following conditions: acne, arthritis, cancer, cataract and eye disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, tooth decay and gum disease.
    Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/131033.php
  • Lactating women (before and after pregnancy) are recommended to eat dark- leafy greens as they’re rich in vitamins A, C, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. These nutrients also help ensure a plentiful milk supply for your baby.
    Source: http://www.babybulletblog.com/the-best-foods-for-breast-feeding-mamas
  • The Nurse’s Health Study demonstrated that regularly eating vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables or green leafy vegetables resulted in overall improvements in memory. The more vegetables women ate in their 50s and 60s, the less likely they were to experience memory loss in their 70s and beyond.Source: http://www.channing.harvard.edu/nhs
10 Steps to Health Eating By Leslie Beck RDFoods that Fight Cancer: Preventing Cancer through Diet By Richard Beliveau, Denis Gingras.*Important Foot Note: *Greens are a source of vitamin K which plays a role in healthy blood clotting. Individuals taking the anticoagulant medication Coumadin should consult their doctors before increasing the amount of leafy greens they eat.

Content Reference & Fast Track to Online Links

 
Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. NIH Publication No. 06-4082. Revised April 2006.

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