What are the top leafy greens you should be eating every day? We’re all about maximum nutrition at the Malkmus household believing we can never get too much nutrition. Since "Leafy Greens” are the No. 1 food anyone can eat to improve their health we thought we should highlight our favorites. These greens not only have amazing nutritional profiles full of vitamins, minerals and other phyto-nutrients but they have few calories and lots of fiber – that’s right, they help keep our pipes cleaned out! OK, maybe a little too personal there but you know what we mean if you already consume a lot of these glorious greens. Even with all the known health benefits like protection from heart disease, diabetes, and perhaps even cancer, most Americans are not eating as many leafy green vegetables each day as they need. Read on and you’ll be encouraged to include more green leafy greens into your daily food preparation.
- Kale: Kale is certainly underrated as a superfood yet it may in fact be one of the most nutritionally packed greens. Talk about a powerhouse. Kale actually helps to maintain a slimmer waist line as it helps the body fight against industrial chemicals known as xenoestrogens. Kale is full of Vitamins A, C and K. It is also a good source of calcium, folate and potassium. It has cancer-fighting properties with its sulfur rich components. The phytonutrients in kale help to build strong bones, support the nervous system and are great for teeth and eyes.Not only is kale great in cooked dishes but it’s a definite hit in raw dishes too. We use kale as often as possible putting it in our juice, salads, smoothies and blended salads. We get excited when we go to a restaurant and they have a baby kale salad on the menu. This is one of Paul’s favorites for sure.
- Collard Greens: Collards are part of the cruciferous family of vegetables. Its dark green leaves clearly depict its powerful nutritional components. With a massive amount of soluble fiber it is great for the bowels and digestive system. It is plentiful in Vitamins A, C and K and a great source of calcium, manganese, tryptophan and folate. It also has almost zero calories – talk about a great weight loss pill without the pill! One of the neat things about collard greens is that it is easily grown and does well through the cold season providing great nutrition during winter depending on location and protection. We also love using collards in our smoothies and juices. It has almost a sweet taste so it doesn’t leave the smoothie bitter. We also love to steam the young collard greens and consume with a little coconut oil and Celtic or Himalayan salt. When steaming you might consider removing the stalk as it can be a little bitter. Collard green leaves also make great vegetable wraps. Because the leaves are large and sturdy, veggies can be piled high and securely wrapped inside. Don’t forget to drizzle with a little coconut oil or salad dressing for flavor. Yummy and nutritious.
- Swiss chard: Take one look at swiss chard and you will notice its red stems, stalks, and veins on its leaves. The reason it is so colorful is because it is one of the most anti-oxidant rich foods on the planet. It contains vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, biotin, chlorophyll, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, quercetin and kaempferol. Swiss Chard is good for the eyes, hair, blood, brain and bones. It is also great for regulating blood sugar and helping to prevent cancer especially of the colon.You can probably imagine what we are going to say next – we like to put swiss chard in our smoothies and juices. While it can be a little more bitter, the added nutrition it brings is well worth the taste. Add in a little more banana and blueberries with the smoothie or a little carrot or granny smith apple in the juice. It doesn’t take much to make the smoothie or juice palatable. We also like to use swiss chard in our salads; both whole and blended. With its beet-like taste and soft texture it is perfect for sauteeing.
- Bok Choy: Bok Choy is rich in vitamins with lots of vitamins A, C and K but also contains large amounts of folate, vitamin B6, calcium and potassium. Bok Choy is a great source of several carotenoids including beta-carotene, which has been studied for its high antioxidant activity and its benefits against cancer. Studies have also verified its beneficial eye health components as well as its role in reducing macular degeneration. Being a member of the cruciferous family, Bok Choy has a special place in the fight against cancer, as do other vegetables of the same family like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. With its glucosinolates, which are converted to isothiocyanates in the body, not only has Bok Choy been shown to be beneficial when dealing with cancer of the lung, colon, prostate and endometrius, but it also helps to boost your immune system.You guessed it, we love Bok Choy in our juice smoothies. It is mild flavored but provides amazing benefits. Like most greens, adding a little healthy fat like coconut oil will help increase the assimilation of the nutrients. Yes, you can just add the coconut oil into your smoothie or blended salad. The enzymes and nutrients in raw Bok Choy provide incredible benefits but lightly steaming will help release carotenoids not easily assimilated when it is raw. We recommend consuming both raw and slightly cooked Bok Choy to get the best of both worlds. Bok Choy is also great for juicing. With its mild flavor and high liquid content it helps to fill up the juice glass with powerful nutrition. For most, using these leafy greens might be a little foreign. Start by adding one type of green into your diet each week. You might consider starting with collard greens or Bok Choy since they are rather tasty while kale and Swiss chard may take a little while for the taste buds to appreciate. While Popeye had his spinach, AM and PM have Kale, Collard, Swiss Chard and Bok Choy. What is your favorite green?