Regardless of your current dietary habits, green fruit and vegetables are essential contributors to overall wellness. Vegetarians and vegans generally adopt greens into their diet quite easily. Thankfully, those who can’t live without meat and potatoes can easily add greens into daily snacks and meals.
Green fruit and vegetables and leafy greens are some of the most alkalizing foods available. They are also full of vitamins and minerals and contain a surprising amount of protein. Green foods often contain decent amounts of fiber, which aids in better digestion and gut flora balance. For prebiotic and digestive support, foods full of fiber are a great option.
We can follow visual cues to determine the nutrient density of green foods – going from the lighter to the darker hues. The more saturation you see in your greens, the more nutrient-dense they are.
For example, iceberg lettuce (very light green) is virtually calorie-free and low in nutrition. Romaine lettuce, Greenleaf lettuce, and spinach have progressively more nutrients. The darker green lettuce options, like dino or curly kale, are the most nutrient-packed. Their darker hue is full of iron, vitamin K, and other phytonutrients.
Some of the most nutrient-dense options of greens are:
Blending and juicing greens is a fast and straightforward way to incorporate greens into your diet. Smoothies can turn a salad into something sippable while hiding greens among flavorful fruit and protein powder. Chewing and blending greens allows the natural fiber to stay intact. However, juicing discards the fiber.
Despite the loss of beneficial, natural fiber, juicing greens does have its advantages. If you need to detox or boost your immune system, greens juice is a fantastic option. One can produce a liquid that is highly concentrated in nutrition by juicing fruits and vegetables. While greens juice can be an acquired taste, a little pineapple, green apple, lemon, or lime can make it not only palatable but delicious!
Why not ditch the old, boring salads? Collard greens make quick, healthy wraps (instead of wheat tortillas), and fresh romaine leaves can double as crispy taco shells. The ends of romaine lettuce can even serve as a chip substitute for dipping into salsa, guacamole, or dips! Add cilantro, basil, parsley, and other green herbs to easily fit more greens into your diet when making salad dressings.
For a better start to the day, greens are also easy to hide in a breakfast of eggs, potatoes, or grits. When cooking soups or stews, finely chopped kale can is an excellent option as a fresh condiment. Because kale cooks so quickly, you should add it to the dish at the end to maintain the natural fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Baking or dehydrating kale to make chips is a delicious snack option. Kale chips will cook quickly using a dehydrator or an oven (within minutes). When topped with your favorite seasoning, kale chips are a guilt-free, oil-free, tasty snack!
Powders may provide a wide variety of green vegetables in a concentrated form. Besides nutrient density, many powders also include plant algae (which isn’t easy to fit into our daily diet). With a little bit of water, or combined with a juice or smoothie, greens powders make it easy to reach the daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals.
Apart from drinking, you can hide greens powders into spreads, sauces, dips, and salad dressings for a nutrient boost. The many benefits of greens may not only help fill in gaps of nutrient deficiencies, but they can also support your body’s immune system and increase energy levels.
Sometimes incorporating more greens into your diet also means removing more processed foods. Nutritious options must continually replace the inferior to achieve a balanced diet. Thankfully, when it comes to greens, there is no such thing as “too much”!