After a brutally hot summer it has been such a treat to experience the recent cooler weather. One of my favorite aspects of the cooler months, and something that I’m reminded of every year as we start that transition towards fall, is that certain foods become even more tasty than in the warmer months.
As the weather cools, it becomes the very best time of year to incorporate leafy green veggies – spinach, kale, collards, chard, cabbage, bok choy, mustard greens, escarole, etc. – into the diet. These veggies taste the best this time of year; they get sweeter as the weather gets colder, and actually are best after the first frost!
Greens: Why should we eat them?
Despite the widely divergent dietary theories you may have come across in your own research and reading, one area that every nutritionist, registered dietitian and other health professional can agree upon is that we should eat more vegetables. And I’d have to add my own voice to that recommendation as well…while perhaps getting a little more specific.
While all vegetables contain essential sources of some of the key nutrients our body needs to function and stay healthy, in my mind all veggies are not created equal. Green vegetables, specifically dark leafy greens like the above-mentioned ones (and that is not a complete list – there are many more!), are the types of vegetable that are both most missing in the standard American diet, and are perhaps the most nutritious.
Nutritionally, greens are very high in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc, as well as vitamins A, C, E and K. They also contain high amounts of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phyto-chemicals.
Some of the specific benefits that dark leafy greens offer include: blood purification, cancer prevention (especially the greens that belongs to the brassica or cruciferous family, like broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards and mustard greens), strengthened immune system, promotion of healthy intestinal flora, and cleansing of the some of the main organs of elimination, like the kidneys and liver. Greens also help to improve circulation and to clear congestion in the lungs.
Greens and Cravings
I find that my clients who make a commitment to eating at least a cup of dark leafy greens per day for two weeks find that their cravings for salt go away, and I believe this is because the minerals in the greens are helping to satisfy the mineral needs that their body has. Interestingly enough, salt cravings can actually be an indication of inadequate mineral levels in the body.
I also find adding greens into the diet be helpful with sweet cravings, and this is because they give the body such great energy through increasing the amount of vitamins and minerals that are nourishing the cells, that the body no longer craves sugar for energy. Simply feeding the body with the right foods, those foods that contain high amounts of nutrients, does wonders for cravings and for energy.
Give your body the gift of good health, and add in a dark leafy green today!