I have started studying with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and in the last few weeks I have been discovering how wonderful green vegetables really are. I already knew that dark green leafy vegetables could assist me in taking my health to the next level, however I didn’t fully realise their potential.
Green vegetables and in particular dark green leafy vegetables are missing from most of the meals that we eat these days. I know that when I was growing up peas, beans and broccoli where the only green vegetables that landed on my plate. Well actually brussels sprouts also landed on my plate, oh how I wished they landed on the floor! However now days, we are so busy with life that we either eat out, grab a take away or if a meal is prepared at home, green vegetables don’t usually feature as one of the main ingredients.
So what have I learnt about green vegetables and dark green leafy vegetables:
- they are full of micronutrients – vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
- help purify the blood
- strengthen the immune system
- help detox and alkalise the body
- green is associated with the liver in Traditional Chinese Medicine, so can assist with liver function
When you think about it, if green vegetables and dark green leafy veg can help detoxify your body, assist the liver to function better, improve the immune system and alkalise the body why are we not eating more of this stuff? I know from my own experience, personally and as a mother, green is not the ‘in’ colour. Also most of the green things, such as kale, broccoli, bok choy and of course brussells sprouts have either a bitter taste or a very strong taste. Kids taste buds are very sensitive so something what we as adults think is quite bland can be so full of flavour it is over powering for them. The bitter taste, one of the five tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami) does not feature in most modern diets. Instead the food consumed today relies heavily on sugar (sweet) and salt and we are conditioned (our taste buds) to want more of those flavours. However our taste buds can be retrained by incorporating green veg into our meals.
I decided to look at what I ate and start increasing my green leafy vegetables. I’ve been doing this for just over a week now and to be honest I didn’t think I would notice much of a difference as my ‘diet’ is quite healthy – plant based, high percentage raw food and very low in processed foods and diary. I was surprised then, to have found that my sleep has improved, not that I thought I had a real issue with sleep. My energy has increased and this ‘fog’ has lifted which I wasn’t aware of. Very happy with what I have experienced so far so encouraged to keep going.
How can you increase your intake of green leafy vegetables? Add them to salads, green smoothies, green smoothie bowls, juices, soups, stir fries, steam them, use large leaves for rolls instead of rice paper, even add them to desserts or make icy poles out of the green smoothies. I make a lovely raw peppermint chocolate slice with pepermint cream part made with baby spinach. Everyone is surprised they are eating greens for the peppermint cream part. Great way to increase your kids green intake! Check out my facebook page for some ideas.
So here are some green leafy vegetables to start playing with:
- bok choy, green cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, rocket (arugula), endive, baby spinach, parsley, coriander, mint, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens and of course brussels sprouts.
Remember to rotate the greens you use and use spinach, beet greens and swiss chard in moderation as they are high in oxalic acid which can inhibit the absorption of calcium.
Oh I forgot to mention that as these vegetables convert the sunlight, via photosynthesis to chlorophyll, so when you eat them you are consuming sunlight! How cool is that.
I would love to know how you have increased your green leafy vegetable intake and what you have noticed in doing so.
In good health,