Five greens you must add to your diet

Popeye and his spinach
Popeye loved his spinach, and you should too!

We have been harking on about the importance of a healthy and balanced diet for many years now. Sometimes we mention the importance of greens – because they really are very healthy. However, many people are failing to add them to their diet – try not to be one of them!

Not all greens created equally, some are some better than others. It should come as no surprise that while some are “super”, others are just mediocre. So to save you the pain of trying to chose the best greens to add to your meals, here we give you the five best greens to add to your diet.

Why eat greens?

Let’s recap. We should eat greens because they are so packed full of goodness. Leafy green vegetables contain vitamins B, C, E and K, as well as being rich in some vital minerals, such as iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.

Greens also have a very high nutrition to calorie ratio, meaning that you get a lot of goodness in a small portion. Great if you are trying to lose weight and stay healthy.

The best greens to eat

1. Rocket / arugula

rocket leavesRocket’s botanical name is Eruca sativa. It is commonly called salad rocket, roquette, rucola, rugula, colewort and arugula. It is great for adding to salad and goes well with baked salmon too, and is often added to pizzas to provide a crisp, peppery flavor.

In Brazil arugula is mixed with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese to make a delicious salad.

2. Kale

kale leavesThis is a fantastic green leafy vegetable. Kale is from the Brassica oleracea species, and is closely related white cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower – all of which are also super healthy.

Kale is quite a thick leaf. Best finely chopped if eaten raw in a salad. Great in stews.

Little known fact: It is named after the legendary blues / rockabilly guitarist, JJ Kale.

3. Collards / berza

collardsCollards are not dissimilar to kale. Very popular in the souther United States. They have large, dark green leaves and are most popular throughout Brazil, Portugal, India and parts of Africa. Known as berza in Spanish.

Collards are provide vitamin C and soluble fiber and many anti-oxidants. They are packed with B vitamins (Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Vitamin B6 and Folate. Also rich in minerals, such as zinc, potassium, calcium and iron.

Raw food enthusiasts use the leaves as wrappers instead of bread, to make delicious deli wraps.

4. Pak Choy

Pak choy (a.k.a. bok choy, pak choi, Chinese cabbage; scientific name Brassica rapa chinensis). It is closely related (same genus) to cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower.Pak choy

It is packed with vitamin A (best avoided if you are pregnant) and also contains a lot of vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium and sodium.

Great in stir-fried meals, which when cooked properly make very healthy meals.

Warning: It can be dangerous if too much is eaten. In one case a woman developed hypothyroidism after consuming over one kilo a day.

5. Spinach

SpinachWhen it comes to greens and fitness, spinach is often the first leaf to spring to mind, thanks to Popeye The Sailor Man. Popeye ate tinned spinach, which is possibly the healthiest way to eat it.

Spinach is full of vitamins A, C and folates. Unlike many vegetables which lose some of their nutritional value when cooked, spinach releases more calcium when it is cooked. Spinach can be added to salads too. Also, spinach makes a nutritious green smoothie too.

So many more greens to chose from

This is really just the tip of the iceberg lettuce. Broccolli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, watercress, Romaine lettuce, mustard greens and Swiss chard are all full of goodness and flavor too.

Aim to eat greens a few times a week. Add them to your salads, stews, sandwiches or pizza toppings, or just eat them straight from the can like Popeye does!

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