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It’s Easy Being Green By Jessica Pastuf

It is National Nutrition Month and attention is being called to vegetables, specifically dark green veggies. Dark greens are a subset of the larger vegetable food group and includes foods such as kale, spinach, collard greens, lettuce greens, bok choy and broccoli in addition to many others. Dark greens are nutrient dense, adding many benefits to one’s diet and overall health. Dark greens contain many phytochemicals and antioxidants that help prevent against disease and strengthen the body. The USDA has suggested incorporating 2.5-3 cups of veggies daily in the average adult’s diet, and approximately 1.5 cups of vegetables each week should be of the dark green subset. While in general incorporating dark greens into one’s diet is beneficial, the health benefits can be optimized by cooking and consuming the vegetables in specific ways. For example, salad greens are best eaten with a source of heart healthy fats, such as avocado or nuts, as this allows the body to better absorb the nutrients from the vegetable. While it can be difficult to obtain fresh vegetables year round, it helps to pay attention to what vegetables are in season. Aside from knowing when to buy certain vegetables in store, knowing when vegetables are in season is helpful if you want to grow your own. Vegetables can be eaten in all meals, and throughout the day as snacks. Greens such as spinach are a great addition to an egg dish, a savory oatmeal bowl or a green smoothie for breakfast meals. Greens can be added to sandwiches, soups, salads, pizza and pasta dishes for lunch and dinner meals, or cooked on their own as a side dish. Greens can also be a snack on their own in the form of kale chips or spinach dip for example. Overall vegetables should not be forgotten, and especially not dark greens. Any time you can go green and consume more of these nutrient dense vegetables you are doing yourself a favor. Remember, it is easy being green.