Green is in Fashion
It seems that the new color in fashion and decor is emerald green — it’s considered a must-have for updating your wardrobe and adding a pop of color to your home. When I heard that, I thought: in the world of nutrition we’ve always thought of green as the “it” color. Having said that, I know that many people don’t easily get those greens into their diet. The National Cancer institute urges us to eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day! Most Americans eat only about 2 servings per day!
I’m often asked, “How can I get more greens into my diet?”
People tend to think that the quest for green foods is challenging and the outcome tasteless. Nutrition, just like fashion, requires that you mix it up a bit and find new ways to put things together. Here you see the nutrition green team ready for mixing and matching: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collards, Swiss chard, bok choy, spinach, and cabbage (for that splash of color).
Let me remind you the top 10 reasons to eat green:
- ↑Blood Sugar Balance. Imbalanced blood sugar, which can occur by eating too many simple, high-starch or processed carbs, can cause a roller-coaster effect to your blood sugar. The high and the corresponding dip can leave us feeling fatigued, drained, and low in energy. This is hard on the body, and a chronic pattern can contribute to blood-sugar impairments like Insulin Resistance (Type II Diabetes). Keeping blood sugar balanced with the inclusion of low-glycemic green vegetables is important to keep you in balance so that you have the energy to move easily through your day.
- ↑Minerals = iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium. Minerals in the body do hundreds of jobs and support things like blood pressure, bone health, muscle and nervous system health, and immunity. Vegetables are our primary source of minerals.
- ↑Vitamin K = supports the regulation of blood, to prevent clotting, and protects bones from osteoporosis. Greens are abundant in vitamin K.
- ↑Many other vitamins = C, E, and many Bs. Nature packages foods like greens in unique ways, with a variety of vitamins to meet all our needs including healing, eye health, bone strength, and antioxidant support for healthy immunity.
- ↑Phytonutrients = Beta-carotene, Lutein, Zeaxnathin. There are about 25,000 of these phytonutrients in plant foods. They help our bodies run smoothly and support immunity, detoxification, and even repair DNA damage. They are helpful to keep us young!
- ↑Antioxidants = Flavenoids, Carotenoids, Quercetin. They have shown to decrease rates of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and some cancers. They also counterbalance “free-radical” damage, which oxidizes (almost rusts) us. Green veggies are a fantastic source for these nutrients.
- DETOX= The natural fiber in vegetables, called cellulose, gently scrubs our intestines, giving bulk to our stool and helping us to eliminate toxins. Many of the compounds in green veggies support detox pathways to keep things running efficiently.
- ↑HEART health = Heart disease is the number killer in America. Diets low in vegetables are linked to the oxidation of LDL → to high cholesterol → to heart disease. LDL becomes the “bad cholesterol” when it oxidizes. The antioxidants in vegetables neutralize oxidation.
- ↑Efficient digestion = Chew, Chew, Chew. Greens require more chewing, and that has so many good effects on digestion. It stimulates enzymes that help break our food down, it relaxes the end of our stomach getting it ready to empty, and it forces us to take time to eat. Turning off the stress and taking time to eat really helps to balance our nervous system.
- ↑Good “bugs”= nature’s probiotic. Green vegetables are high in chlorophyll, helping our intestine increase its good bacteria — that helps support our immune system.
Here are 5 easy ways to get more of those power-packed greens:
1. Out for lunch? Order your sandwiches with double greens, the thickness of the greens should be at least as high as the bottom bread and meat! Better yet, ditch the sandwich and get salad with grilled fish like salmon or shrimp, or even chicken.
2. Love smoothies? Adding some greens like spinach, even to a fruit smoothie, doesn’t really change the taste but boosts the nutrients.
3. Like some crunch? Make Kale Chips:
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
- With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems.
- Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner.
- Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
- Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 6-10 minutes.
4. In a rush at dinner? Baby greens like kale and spinach come prewashed and ready to go. Oil-steam them for a quick side dish: Heat some EVOO in a pan, add some chopped garlic, sauté for a few minutes, add greens and sauté and then add a small amount of water, cover, and let steam for 3-5 min.
5. Ready for a change? Visit your local farmers market and buy some fresh greens—try some that you have never had before. Most greens can be used for salad as a delicious alternative. Look for some of these yummy choices: bok choy, mustard greens, mizuna, mache, cress, butterhead lettuce, arugula and tatsoi.
I hope you feel inspired to get your food working for you, get into “fashion,“ and get green.