Don’t be mean; eat your greens!
Ah, Popeye: the spinach-loving Sailor Man. Even after all the references towards building a strong healthy body powered by leafy greens, we still find excuses to keep greens off our plate. Americans have a love/hate relationship with leafy greens. Greens aren’t very tasty by themselves, and it’s easy to feel guilty when we add bacon, eggs, croutons and cheese on top of handful of chopped iceberg lettuce and call it “salad”. The fact of the matter is, if you haven’t learned to like the many different kinds of leafy greens early on in life, it can be hard to start incorporating them into your diet as an adult. However, with a little effort, even the pickiest of eaters can find a way to sneak those boring, but health-building greens onto their plate!
While there are hundreds of varieties of leafy greens and vegetables, with different nutritional contents, we can get too caught up in which variety is most beneficial. Fortunately, ALL the varieties of leafy greens are health-building foods. The most important part is finding a few leafy greens that are palatable to YOU. The key here is to try and reach the goal of eating a big plate of leafy greens at least a few times per week. It won’t matter whether or not the collard greens have more potassium if you can’t stomach the taste! Find some leafy greens that you could get used to and make a habit out of eating them daily. Once you have a base of greens that you can at least learn to enjoy, you can begin to branch out and add more variety to your diet.
So why is it important to eat your greens? You would be flabbergasted at just how essential leafy greens are to a healthy human body. Here are just some of the general health benefits of the leafy green family:
1. They are rich in Vitamins A, K, C, E, many of the B vitamins.
2. Pound for pound, most leafy greens have more protein than meat, and more calcium than milk.
3. They are incredibly high in fiber (don’t forget to chew your greens thoroughly!).
4. They are incredibly nutrient dense, but low in calories and sugar.
5. They are packed full of antioxidants and folate. There is even research to show that eating dark leafy greens as part of a regular diet significantly decreases your chances of developing stomach, breast or skin cancer, reverse the ageing process, and prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.
As you can see there is an overwhelming amount of research that support a diet rich in dark leafy greens!
And just how does someone who can’t stand the sight of spinach eat their greens? You get creative. It takes time to build a healthy dietary routine that you like and can stick with. Everyone’s tastes and habits are different, so experiment to see what works for you. Blending a large handful of spinach with bananas, mangos, honey, and almond milk is a fantastic place to start. Another possibility could be adding a little extra Bok Choy, mustard and/or broccoli greens to your stir fry. Or how about making that cheat meal not so much of a cheat by adding kale to your pizza, or making sure your burger has lettuce on it. Or, you could even load up on a batch of homemade kale chips that you can snack on instead of fried potato chips! The possibilities are endless, but the reality is clear: A diet that is full of leafy greens will produce one happy body, mind and spirit! Here at the Starz Program, in addition to promoting fitness in children we want to help adults be healthier too. Eat greens, keep shining!
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