Healthy diet programs should include generous amounts of green leafy vegetables.
Why Healthy Diet Programs Include Green Leafy Vegetables
Wondering why healthy diet programs include green leafy vegetables? Here are just some of the reasons.
Dark green leafy vegetables are great sources of nutrition.
• Salad greens, kale and spinach are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, and broccoli, bok choy and mustard are also rich in many of the B-vitamins.
• These vegetables also contain an abundance of carotenoids-antioxidants that protect cells and help block the early stages of cancer.
• They also contain high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium.
• Furthermore, greens have very little carbohydrates, sodium and cholesterol.
• The dark greens supply a significant amount of folate, a B vitamin that promotes heart health and helps prevent certain birth defects. Folate is also necessary for DNA duplication and repair which protects against the development of cancer. Several large studies have shown that high intakes of folate may lower the risk of colon polyps by 30 to 40 percent compared to low intakes of this vitamin. Other research suggests that diets low in folate may increase the risk of cancers of the breast, cervix and lung.
• The vitamin K contents of dark green leafy vegetables provide a number of health benefits including: protecting bones from osteoporosis and helping to prevent against inflammatory diseases.
• Because of their high content of antioxidants, green leafy vegetables may be one of the best cancer-preventing foods. Studies have shown that eating 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables per week may lower the risk of stomach, breast and skin cancer. These same antioxidants have also been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease.
Healthy Diet Plans for Weight Loss Include Green Leafy Vegetables
Your healthy diet weight loss plans can benefit from the addition of green leafy vegetables.
One of the most appealing benefits of dark green leafy vegetables is their low calorie and carbohydrate contents and their low glycemic index. These features make them an ideal food to facilitate achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Adding more green vegetables to a balanced diet increases the intake of dietary fiber which, in turn, regulates the digestive system and aids in bowel health and weight management. These properties are particularly advantageous for those with type-2 diabetes.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends increasing average intakes of fruits and vegetables, particularly those that provide more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Dark leafy greens fulfill this need.
Try this healthy recipe to your healthy diet program and eat more dark leafy greens. Fresh or frozen greens are equally nutritious.
Greens, Mushroom and White Bean Ragoût
Ingredients: (serves 6)
• 2 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
• 1 large white onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup Marsala or red wine
• 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
• 12 ounces fresh mushrooms, button or wild or a mixture of both, trimmed and thinly sliced
• 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari
• 2 tablespoons whole spelt or whole wheat flour
• 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added Great Northern or other white beans or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 pound (1 to 2 bunches) dark leafy greens, such as collards, kale or mustard greens, tough stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Bring 3/4 cup broth to a simmer in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until tender.
2. Stir in wine, rosemary and thyme and cook about 2 minutes or until wine evaporates.
3. Add mushrooms and reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to become tender, stirring once.
4. Stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together tamari, flour, nutritional yeast and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the hot broth to make a thick paste.
6. Whisk paste into the simmering broth mixture, stirring constantly. Bring back to a simmer and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
7. Stir in beans and greens, in batches if needed, cover and cook 5 minutes or until greens are wilted and heated through, stirring once. Stir in black pepper and serve.
Tip: Serve this hearty and saucy combination of leafy greens, mushrooms and beans over whole grain brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Use 1 (16-ounce) package of frozen dark leafy greens instead of fresh greens for a quick shortcut.
Nutrition: (per serving)
Fiber: 17 g