Why You Need To Eat Your Greens
Most people simply don't get enough fiber in their diet. People eat too much snacks, meat, eggs and dairy and not nearly enough plants like oats, beans and - leafy greens! Unfortunately, most Americans only eat green leafy vegetables about 1-2x a week, when in reality they should be consuming about 4 cups - A DAY!
Greens are SO vital for our health - they're a low calorie option, great for people conscientious about their weight. They're also low in fat, high in fiber, rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, like lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene (which can be converted into vitamin A, and improve immune function). All of these things can help to reduce the risk for things like cancer and heart disease. Greens are also high in dietary nitrate, which has important vascular effects, including reducing blood pressure, inhibiting platelet aggregation, preserving or improving endothelial dysfunction, enhancing exercise performance in healthy individuals and patients with peripheral arterial disease. Pre-clinical studies with nitrate or nitrite also show the potential to protect against ischaemia-reperfusion injury and reduce arterial stiffness, inflammation and intimal thickness.
The high level of vitamin K in greens makes them important for the production of osteocalcin, a protein essential for bone health. Green vegetables are also a major source of iron and calcium. While vitamin K and D are important for bone health, so is calcium as a raw building block.
Greens are also an important source of folate - which isn't just important for fetal development. Folate is also important to prevent elevated homocysteine levels (which can impair endothelial function and is a risk factor for heart disease).
Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also very valuable for persons with diabetes, or people with pre-diabetes. Studies show that a greater intake of gr