Whether you throw them together in a tossed salad or put them in a green smoothie, leafy green veggies have many health benefits. Let’s see just how healthy they are.
What Are Greens?
There are surprisingly many different types of greens you can choose from. Here are a few of the most nutritious varieties that you eat raw or throw into your recipes:
- Kale. This is a powerhouse of nutrition that has everything you need in a green. It has lots of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K as well as calcium, potassium, and folate. Kale can be cream-colored or blackish, depending on the variety you choose. Kale can be used to substitute bread and buns in burgers and sandwiches making for a low calorie and low carb meal.
- Collards. These are often used in Southern cooking and they are a lot like kale. They taste a bit more like cabbage than kale and have a chewy texture. Collards contain only 25 calories in about a half-cup serving.
- Turnip greens. These are the tops to turnips and are just as good as the vegetable itself. These are commonly used in Southern cooking like collard greens but they are more tender than other types of greens so they don’t have to be cooked as much to be flavorful.
- Swiss chard. This has red stalks, veins, and stems on the leaves and it tastes a lot like beets. It is a great green to sauté and can bind to calcium so it doesn’t cause kidney stones. It has only about 15 calories per half cup serving.
- Spinach has only about 20 calories per half cup serving and has plenty of vitamin C and vitamin A for better health. It also is high in folate. It reduces its oxalate content on heating so it is actually better for you cooked than raw.
- Mustard greens. This is a Southern recipe green that is very similar to collard greens and turnip leaves. It comes in both green and red varieties. These greens give off a smell like mustard when cooking and should be toned down by adding lemon or vinegar, which provide acidity.
- Broccoli. Yes, this is a green, too. It contains only 25 calories per serving and is high in vitamin A and vitamin C. It is great in stir-fries, where it adds a crunchiness. It can also be eaten raw, in salads or as a snack with low-fat dip. Broccoli goes great over pasta, in soups, and in casseroles. It is one of nature’s best plant foods.
- Romaine lettuce. This wonderful lettuce comes in red and green leaves and is great for salads, sandwiches and even juicing or smoothies. Nutritionally, it is high in vitamin A as well as in folate. Leafy lettuce is softer than romaine, which is a bit crunchy. The darker leaves have more nutrition in them than lighter leaves. One cup is only about 10 calories.
- Cabbage. This is a pale vegetable of the cruciferous type. It contains a great deal of vitamin C and other cancer-fighting agents. It comes as green and red cabbage and can be cooked, stir-fried, or made into a shredded Cole slaw. A ½ cup has only 15 calories.
- Iceberg lettuce. This is a more bland tasting lettuce because it contains a lot of water. It is ideal for weight loss because it is very filling and great for salads and sandwiches. It is popular but contains less nutrition in it than many of the other greens. It can be a green that people start with while working their way to eating other healthier greens. Iceberg Lettuce has virtually no calories and can be eaten liberally.
Benefits Of Eating Greens
There’s no question that greens are good for you. Here are some of its healthier benefits:
- Healthier aging. Greens contain vitamin K, which helps clot blood. Too little vitamin K in the diet predisposes you to heart disease, kidney calcification, arterial plaques, and fragile bones. One cup of raw greens will give you your daily requirement of vitamin K, with kale being the best, along with dandelion greens and Swiss chard.
- Keep down cholesterol. This is true especially of kale and mustard greens. When you bind bile acids in the fiber of these types of greens, it exits the body instead of going into the bloodstream, raising cholesterol.
- Help your vision. This is especially true of Swiss chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and kale. They contain many types of lutein and zeaxanthin, which helps filter out high energy light. This is a type of light that can damage your eyes. They are also helpful in fighting glare so they decrease your chances of getting cataracts.
- Fuel the body. One cup of escarole when eaten raw will give you a tenth of what you need of pantothenic acid, which is vitamin B. This helps convert carbohydrates into glucose to be then be used as fuel to make energy for the body. You need to eat B vitamins every day because they are water-soluble and any excess will just exit the body each day.
- Improve bone health. The bitter taste of many of these types of greens means they are high in calcium, which is good for your bones. You can’t get enough calcium just by eating greens but they can help. About a 1/2 cup of dandelion greens, for example, contains 78 milligrams of calcium.
- Prevent colon cancer. This is especially true of mustard greens and kale, which is a part of the Brassica family of foods (as are cabbage and broccoli). The more you eat them, the lower your risk for colon cancer.
There is no question that carrots are healthy for you. They are also easy to prepare and can be prepared in a variety of ways. For this reason, carrots are among the most widely consumed vegetables throughout the world. They grow easily in just about any soil and have a place in many different international cuisines.
The scientific name for carrots is Daucus carota. While it is classified as a root, some people eat the tops of carrots as well. Most carrots are bright orange; however, there are less common varieties of carrots that are yellow, white, red, or purple in color. Most people eat domesticated carrots, which are a variation of the wild type (Daucus carota). It is found native to southwestern Asia and Europe but most imported carrots come from China.
The Nutrition in Carrots
Carrots are healthy for you in a variety of ways. Carrots are high in beta-carotene and fiber. They have loads of antioxidants, which fight cancer and other cellular defects. Most varieties of carrots are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, Vitamin B8, Vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, manganese, potassium, and copper.
How are carrots healthy for you?
Carrots have many health benefits: Some of these include the following:
- Carrots prevent cardiovascular disease. In at least one study, the consumption of carrots resulted in a reduction in cholesterol by approximately 11 percent in those people who ate 7 oz of carrots daily for three weeks. Lower cholesterol means a lowered risk for heart disease. In another study out of Sweden, researchers found that eating carrots on a regular basis reduced the risk of having a heart attack.
- Carrots lower blood pressure. Carrots are high in potassium, which dilates the blood vessels and coumarin that lowers blood pressure. This improves overall body circulation and enhances the function of all of the body’s organs. Lower blood pressure means there is less stress on the heart and a decreased risk of heart attacks, stroke, and atherosclerosis.
- Carrots enhance the immune system. Carrots are high in antibacterial and antiseptic properties so that it enhances the body’s immune system. Carrots are also high in vitamin C, which stimulates white blood cells, which are an important part of the immune system.
- Carrots promote digestion. The fiber in the roots of the carrot can help maintain excellent digestive health. Carrots are high in insoluble fiber, which bulks up the stool and allows it to pass cleanly through the colon. The fiber also enhances peristalsis in the colon and increases the secretion of stomach acid. It is believed to be protective not only against constipation but in preventing more serious things like colon cancer.
- Carrots help prevent cancer. Carrots are high in beta-carotene, which reduces the risk of several types of cancer, particularly the cancer of the lung. One study showed that people who ate more beta carotene had a reduction in lung cancer risk by more than forty percent. Another study revealed that eating carrots decreased the chances of getting colon cancer by approximately 24 percent. Breast cancer is also believed to be protected against by eating carrots.
- Carrots help the eyes. Carrot consumption is believed to decrease the incidence of age-related macular degeneration. One study showed that people who ate more beta carotene had a 40 percent decreased the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Carrots also seem to help prevent decreases in vision that occur as a result of vitamin A deficiency.
- Carrots help in mouth health. Carrots are known to stimulate the gums and enhance saliva production, which means there are fewer dental caries and fewer bacteria in the mouth that can lead to dental caries. It also seems to be beneficial in helping people with bad breath.
- Carrots prevent strokes. Research has shown that eating a carrot every day can decrease the chances of getting a stroke by 58 percent. No one knows exactly why this is the case but it is believed to be because Carrots are high in beta-carotene.
- Carrots are protective in diabetics. Because of the carotenoids in carrots, blood sugar is better regulated and diabetes is in better control. Carrots also help to regulate the use of glucose and insulin in the body so that there are fewer blood sugar fluctuations in diabetics.
5 Healthy Ways to Eat Carrots
Carrots can be eaten in several ways as they are a versatile vegetable when eaten raw or cooked. Here are five ways you can incorporate carrots into your diet:
- Eat them raw—carrot sticks can be eaten raw alone or with a vegetable dip
- Eat carrot soup—carrot soup retains much of the nutrients that raw carrots have and is a delicious way to eat carrots.
- Eat them juiced—carrots can be juiced alone or with other vegetables for a healthy juice containing many phytonutrients
- Eat them roasted—carrots roasted in a light amount of oil retain many of their phytonutrients and make a good side dish to a meal.
- Eat them in a casserole—carrots can be chopped and put in just about any soup or casserole.
Any time of the year is a good time to start juicing. The health benefits of drinking fruit and vegetable juice are numerous, ranging from improving your digestive health to increasing your body’s ability to repair itself and bolstering your immune system.
However, as with any new routine, sticking to your juicing habit can be hard. Follow these 8 tips to help make juicing a part of your daily routine for years to come.
- Set up a juicing plan
One of the most common mistakes people make when starting a juicing lifestyle is failing to account for the extra effort. In order to make your juice both effective and sanitary, you need to wash your ingredients and cut them to the appropriate size for your machine. Most people don’t have the time to do this in the morning, so consider prepping the night before. Even if you chop up all of your veggies and fruits the night before, you still need to plan for the time to make the juice and clean your machine in the morning. Wake up a few minutes earlier to give yourself more time in the morning and keep the process as stress-free as possible.
- Stock up on the (right) ingredients
Another pitfall that leads new juicer to abandon the process is a simple lack of ingredients. If you’re all ready to make your juice, but you don’t have any leafy greens or fruits, it makes the entire process harder than it needs to be. Make sure you keep a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables in your fridge before you plan to make your juice so that you can focus on solidifying the habit instead of the obstacles in front of you.
- Solve the taste dilemma
Make sure you choose ingredients that are both easy to juice and that you enjoy. Even though kale is loaded with nutrients, you’re unlikely to stick to juicing if you hate the taste, but there are many tasty additions that can help mask the taste of kale, so you can get the nutrients while enjoying the juice.
Apples, lemons, limes, grapefruits, pears, and ginger are all great additions to make the primary stars, like spinach, kale or broccoli taste great in your juice.
It is also important to realize that you might just have to get used to the taste of vegetables, as others have, it is part of changing to a healthy lifestyle.
- Invest in a quality juicer
This one falls in line with the whole concept of making the process easier for you. A poor quality juicer can result in a poor quality juice, such as one full of large chunks, which in turn can make the entire process unappealing.
Cheap juicers are also more prone to breaking and clogging, which can completely stop your budding love for juicing in its tracks. There’s no need to spend a fortune on a juicer, as some high-end models also come with issues. Read reviews at online retail sites to identify the machine in your price range with the largest number of happy owners.
- Focus on your calorie intake
As great as juices are for your health, they’re no replacement for actual fruits and vegetables. Many new juicers attempt to substitute complete meals with a juice blend, which often does not have the appropriate number of calories to keep you fueled all day.
Similarly, many people find that drinking fruits and vegetables is not as satisfying as eating them, which can lead to feelings of hunger. Associating negative feelings such as fatigue and hunger with drinking juice can make you feel like the process isn’t worth it. Instead, focus on drinking the juice as a snack or meal supplement.
- Easy Storage
Buy an airtight container to store your juice. Juice keeps well for about 3 days, so being able to make enough for a few days saves time and makes the whole juicing thing much easier.
- Watch your sugar intake
Avoid the shock of weight gain or sugar overload that can quickly turn you off to juicing by making your juices primarily from vegetables.
Fruit is very high in sugar, and you can easily go into calorie and sugar overload with just a couple of glasses a day, negating the whole point of juicing. Choose low sugar fruits, like apples and berries and use them in moderation.
- Buy a portable container
One major benefit of drinking juice blends is that they take such little time to consume. However, if you don’t have the time to sit and sip your drink, you’re not going to build the habit into your routine.
Purchasing a thermos or other container means you can take your juice with you wherever you go, so drinking it can become a part of your daily activities. In addition, you can make your juice in the morning and then take it with you to work to drink later.Starting a new juicing routine can be difficult if you don’t take the time to plan for it in advance. Focus on identifying the biggest issues you face each day and develop methods to overcome them, and you’ll make your new juicing habit stick for a lifetime.
The term “green juice” can actually refer to a wide range of vegetables processed through a juicer or blender to transform the solids into a smoother liquid. Though spinach and kale are among the most common options, it can also include Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, wheat grass broccoli, bitter melon and many others.
The emphasis on green produce comes from the fact that many of these items carry different types of essential nutrients and vitamins than options on the other side of the food color spectrum, such as iron, Vitamin K, and antioxidants.
In addition, greens with a darker color, such as kale, also commonly have higher levels of these nutrients than the lighter green vegetables, such as iceberg lettuce, making them ideal candidates for a healthy diet.
Juicing And Heart Health
Juicing is simply a more convenient way to introduce the foods into your diet, as many juices also include other, more palatable ingredients such as fruits and similar sweeter fare.
The specific benefits of drinking green juice depend on the ingredients. For example, a juice made primarily of kale delivers a high dose of iron, approximately 1mg per cup compared to 0.4mg per cup of cabbage, according to the USDA.
Iron, in particular, is essential to developing a healthy heart because it is a key element in creating hemoglobin, which is a component found in red blood cells that aid the distribution of oxygen throughout the body. If the body does not have enough iron to properly carry oxygen molecules out of the lungs, it cannot function properly and will eventually start to break down, leaving you feeling fatigued. Overworking your body means overworking your heart, which eventually leads to a weakening of the muscle that can result in heart disease or other ailments.
Another way green juice helps keep your heart healthy is by introducing antioxidants into the system, which carry a wide range of health benefits overall.
In terms of the heart, antioxidants help to restore the damage that comes from daily activity, strengthening the walls of your heart over time and allowing it to function more efficiently.
Many green juices also feature vitamins that help keep the heart pumping properly and strongly. Similarly, the nutrients and minerals in the juices can help improve circulation by expanding the blood vessels and lowering blood pressure, which allows the blood to flow more smoothly throughout your body.
Green juices also help introduce fiber into your diet, which is essential to a healthy heart because they can lower blood cholesterol levels. High cholesterol causes the heart to work harder than it needs to pump blood through your body because it literally blocks the passageways in the circulatory system.
Overworking the heart, combined with the lack of oxygen and build-up of toxins due to poor blood flow, can result in a heart attack or similar issues. The fiber in the green juices helps ensure proper blood flow and thus keeps your heart and body functioning normally. Fiber also helps combat other conditions that can lead to heart diseases, such as obesity or diabetes, offering an additional layer of healthfulness.
Green juice is low in calories and makes a great addition to a sensible low-calorie diet in support of a healthy weight, which in turn Realty benefits heart health as both obesity and overweight are two of the biggest contributors to heart disease, heart attack, and premature death.Regardless of the types of vegetables, you put in the juice or how often you drink them; they are most effective when combined with regular exercise and an overall balanced diet.
In the diet and health world, you’ll find many fads and trends. Juicing has become popular as a way to cleanse the body, lose weight, and greatly increase intake of vitamins and minerals. It’s always valuable to look at the science behind a diet trend, so just how healthy is juicing?
On the one side of the juicing trend, we have a lot of marketing effort. If fruits and vegetables are good for you and your body, then drinking them in one go each day, must surely be of benefit?
However, the science behind it is more complex than the marketing line, and the reality is a tale of both pros and cons that are well worth considering before integrating juicing into a diet regimen.
The Pros of Juicing
Many people juice vegetable and fruits on a daily basis without thinking too much about the pros and cons of the activity. However, it’s always wise to look beyond the marketing lines and examine the nutritional value and science behind it.
In this spirit, here are some of the health benefits of juicing:
- If your daily diet is poor, then juicing even on a semi-regular basis can provide your body some much needed nutrition. The striping away of much of the fiber content in fruits and vegetables by the pulverization process makes it easy for your body to absorb the nutrients faster, thus giving you a high dose of nutrients. These nutrients contribute to your overall health and well-being and boost your immune system.
- The pulverization of much of the fiber also unlocks some of the enzymes found in some fruits and vegetables and makes them available for digestion and absorption.
- If you juice regularly you’re habituating yourself to a dietary activity that is actually of great benefit. You’re thinking of your body, your health and what you’re putting into your body, and developing this habit is of massive psychological benefit, particularly for those who have had previously poor eating habits. This change in habit can lead to other positive life changing activities, including regular exercise and eating more foods of greater nutritional value. Many of us don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, so drinking even one small cup of freshly juiced vegetables and fruits can help our bodies.
The Cons of Juicing
Despite the strong marketing line, juicing has quite a couple of pitfalls. Much of the nutritional science behind it is still being debated in diet circles, but there are some very specific problems that are slowly becoming more well-known.
Read on to find out some of the cons of juicing to put the debate into a sharp perspective:
- Juicing fruits and vegetables actually strips away most of the insoluble fiber content due to the pulverization process. Eating fiber regularly is essential to a smooth digestive process, and helps us to maintain a healthy weight because it causes us to feel fuller for longer.
- As our bodies absorb a super hit of nutrition due to the stripping away of much of the fiber, we also absorb a lot of natural sugar, this is especially critical when juice blends consist mostly of fruits. This creates an abnormal spike in sugar levels, which is clearly problematic for diabetics and promotes weigh gain. Over time, this excess of fructose sugar will cause us weight problems as they are converted to fats and stored by our bodies. In this way, regular juicing will have the opposite of a beneficial health effect. However, it is important to note that this sugar overload only occurs when fruit is the predominant ingredient, when you juice a ratio of 80% to 20% or 90% to 10% of vegetables to fruits this is not a problem.
- Juicing can be expensive, with a quality machine costing around $150 or more and the cost in produce, where sometimes many vegetables are needed to make just one glass of juice. This will be expensive over time.
Thoughts on the Health Benefits of Juicing
It seems as though juicing is here to stay, at least for the near future, but it’s wise to consider both the pros and cons behind it. To supplement an already poor diet, drinking juice can offer superior nutritional and health benefits.
In Health & Peace
Trying to maintain a healthy diet doesn’t have to be hard work. Did you know that there are many raw foods that you can eat which actually provide you with more nutrition than they do when cooked?
Next time you’re looking for a quick snack or trying to think of something that you can take with you for a lunch away from home, try out some of these raw foods. They need minimum preparation and have plenty of great benefits for your body if you eat them regularly.
- Fermented Vegetables
Fermented vegetables are easy for the body to absorb and digest because the fermentation process pre-digests the starches in these foods. They also have many enzymes and probiotics to boost your immune system, and improve nutrient absorption.
You can ferment many vegetables, including kale, carrots, cucumbers, celery, and cabbage. Ginger and garlic make great spices when fermenting vegetables.
Tempeh is a fermented food, as is the Korean favorite kim chee along with raw kefir or yogurt. Note that commercial kefirs and yogurts are not advised, as they are often loaded with sugars that destroy the beneficial bacteria.
You can use them in salads, soups, main dishes or as compliments to main dishes and they add great flavor. Some people even e njoy eating them on their own.
Raw honey provides two key beneficial components, bee pollen, and propolis. It is a unique blend of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and some types contain as many of these essential free radical fighting agents as vegetables and fruit.
Free radicals are known contributors to aging, and increasing risk factors of cancer, heart disease and other chronic medical conditions. Numerous studies have shown the polyphenols found in honey to play a key role in preventing heart disease.
Phytonutrients are compounds in plants that protect them from external harm, and they do the same for the human body, as they have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Phytonutrients are only found in raw honey as they are destroyed in any type of heavy processing of food.
Honey can be used as a healthy substitute to sugar and is a popular choice for many people when dieting. If you include a teaspoon in your daily diet, you will be able to enjoy many benefits, as it is high in sugar and calories, so moderation is key.
If you’re wondering how you could eat more honey in your diet, you could try using it to sweeten tea or coffee, spreading it on toast or adding a few drops to your morning berries.
Raw coconut provides a wide variety of nutritional benefits as compared to the dried or processed form. Coconut water is a natural form of sports drink because of its natural ability to hydrate and replace electrolytes, and it is also rich in potassium, sodium, and magnesium. The above is not true of dried, processed, or sweetened coconut.
Moderation is key however, as coconut is high in calories, but it does have less sugar carbs in the same portion as apples.
Blueberries are really tasty and full of antioxidants that fight free radicals to prevent chronic disease. They are high in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6 and very low in calories and sugar.
If you need something sweet for a quick pick-me-up, instead of reaching for the chocolates, try a handful of blueberries.
For extra convenience, you can purchase frozen blueberries, which will keep for longer. Stock up when they’re more affordable and enjoy the benefits.
Some people love sprouts, while others absolutely hate them. They’re actually very healthy and if you want to improve your overall health, you should try to get used to eating them raw.
Sprouts are vegetables that are still in the growth stage, and because of this, they have high levels of nutrients, key enzymes and numerous vitamins, all ready to be digested by the human body.
For example, alfalfa sprouts have vitamins A, B, C, and E, Calcium, Carotene, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, and Chlorophyll.
If you’re a vegetarian and you need more protein in your diet, sprouts are a great source of protein too.
If you don’t like the taste of them raw, why not make a green smoothie and flavor it with other healthy ingredients.
- Raw Broccoli
Eating raw broccoli helps fight cancer, as chewing of this raw super plant food allows you to access a cancer-fighting compound known as myrosinase, which is easily killed off in the cooking process. Eating broccoli sprouts doubles your intake of anticancer properties.
Freshly raw chopped garlic contains the enzyme alliinase that converts alliin into allicin, which is what creates the specific aroma of fresh garlic and also helps to improve your health. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, allicin has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Moreover, fresh raw garlic releases a short-lived gas known as hydrogen sulfide that acts as an intracellular signaling compound that protects the heart. Cooking, processing, and drying destroy this valuable compound.
While many love to eat oil-roasted nuts, the cooking process reduces valuable nutrients, such as iron and magnesium and also adds extra calories and fat.
- Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers contain about 150% of the daily-recommended value of vitamin C, but the National Institutes of Health warns that this vital nutrient breaks down when the peppers are cooked at or above 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Eating raw red peppers also helps prevent atherosclerosis that leads to heart disease.
A Cornell University study found that raw onions contain sulphur compounds, and cancer-fighting antioxidants that are only present in their juice. These nutrients help protect against lung and prostate cancer.
Are you getting enough vitamin D? I found out I wasn't years ago. I have been taking 5000 IUs ever since. I can totally tell the difference when I don't take it.
Vitamin D is one of the many nutrients and minerals your body requires. Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones and teeth, and helps protect against conditions like type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cancer. So you definitely have to get your daily requirement of vitamin D. How do you tell when you are not receiving enough of this important health booster? If any of the following 5 symptoms sound familiar, you're probably not getting enough vitamin D.
1 - You Have Dark Skin
The darker your skin, the harder it is for your body to create vitamin D. This is because the biggest source of vitamin D is exposure to the sun. When you have dark skin, your pigments actually act as a natural sunscreen. In just 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure to their skin most people trigger enough vitamin D manufacturing. However, if you have dark skin, you could need 10 times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of healthy vitamin D.
2 - You Are Over 50
As you age, two things happen that negatively affect your vitamin D levels. First, your skin naturally does not produce as much vitamin D in response to exposure to the sun. Secondly, your kidneys are not as good at converting vitamin D into a form your body can use. If you are over 50, you may want to consider getting a little more sun exposure, or taking a daily vitamin D supplement.
3 - You Are Overweight or Obese
Body fat actually "collects" vitamin D. So if you are overweight, you need to create more vitamin D than someone who is slim or of average weight. The same holds true if you have a heavy body weight due to above average muscle mass.
4 - Your Head Sweats A Lot
If you frequently have a sweaty head, you may be vitamin D deficient. If you catch yourself sweating from the neck up when no one else is perspiring, and this happens often, you need to get more vitamin D. This is one of the first things doctors ask new mothers about their newborns, since vitamin D is so important for proper growth and development.
5 - You are Chronically Tired, Accompanied by Aches and Pains in Your Bones
Chronic fatigue accompanied by bone aches is a classic sign of vitamin D deficiency. However, it is sometimes misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. In many cases, simply getting enough vitamin D into your body can reverse this condition in a short period of time.
In Health & Peace,
p.s. Here's the brand I take daily. I'd love to hear what brand you take and why.