Greens – you’re probably thinking, “How boring!”. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you want health and longevity, you should be eating your greens, so I will explain later how to make them seriously delicious and moreish (honest!).
But, first, let’s get to the nitty-gritty – why should you consume greens with every meal?
Green vegetables contain micronutrients that are essential to life. It is typical to believe that your ‘macros’ are the most important thing in your meal (our carbohydrates, proteins and fats). Whilst they are important nutrients, it is the beautiful micronutrients that are so densely found in green vegetables that promote energy, vitality, clarity, a well functioning immune system, glowing skin, happiness and more.
Greens are nature’s multivitamin and mineral pill. They contain an abundant source of nutrients like magnesium, folate, calcium, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin C and potassium, all of which allow your organs to function optimally. They also contain critical phytochemicals which each have their own beneficial properties, for example carotenoids, polyphenols and flavonoids, which mostly act as potent antioxidants in the body.
They also contain huge amounts of chlorophyll, which gives the vegetables their green colour. Chlorophyll fights against infections, has proven and potent anti-cancer properties, speeds wound healing, and greatly improves liver detoxification.
Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, turnips, bok choy and Chinese cabbage, are a little more unique in that they are rich in sulfur-containing compounds, particularly glucosinolates, which have been shown to reduce inflammation, fight cancer and improve heart health. They have also been shown to neutralise toxic substances that would usually damage our cell membranes and DNA. Your mitochondria is the energy powerhouse of each cell, and therefore the energy powerhouse for your entire body. It needs to be kept well nourished with sulfur rich foods in particular, which include cruciferous vegetables. Other cruciferous vegetables include horseradish, radish, wasabi and watercress.
Green vegetables also contain nutrients that will help to alkalise the body. We require a balance of both acidic and alkalising foods in order to create a pH that suits the human body and promotes wonderful health. If you are consuming a meal with no greens, or very little vegetables, then you are consuming a meal that will likely be highly acidic. The nutrients that alkalise the body include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, manganese, selenium and zinc. All green vegetables are particularly high in these potent nutrients that will create an alkalised state in your body.
By increasing your green veggies, you will expose your gut to more fibre. An increase in dietary fibre has been shown to fight infections in the intestinal tract, mainly because beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium love plant fibre. So, by consuming plant fibre regularly, you are enhancing this beneficial bacteria which will in turn reduce pathogenic bacteria, enhance your immune system, improve your digestion, and improve your sleep and mood regulating hormones like serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and melatonin. Nutrient dense vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and green beans are a great source of fibre.
As each cell requires an abundance of nutrients to function optimally, each meal should contain plenty of greens to ensure we are covering the bases. When you create a rule like ‘Have greens with every meal’, it quickly becomes a habit and without knowing it, you are consuming more nutrients than you ever have before. Your digestion will improve, your eyes will become brighter and you will be more energised.
How to Enjoy Your Greens!
Vegetables only became boring when we were told that we should stop consuming fat and salt roughly 50 years ago, as these are the two most important tools in making your vegetables taste moreish! Luckily, we now know that fat and salt are good for us and essential to creating wellbeing, so we can get back to using them on our vegetables – enabling you to enjoy your veggies with a smile! Don’t believe me? Try these delicious ways to have greens:
- Roasted broccoli – roast or sauté with coconut oil, salt and pepper until crispy.
- Grilled zucchini – slice into rounds and place them in a heated pan or on a hot plate with coconut oil, salt, pepper and any other spices you desire like garlic powder, dried thyme, rosemary or turmeric.
- Broccoli mash – I love steaming broccoli on its own or with a little cauliflower and/or zucchini and then pureeing it with lots of ghee/butter, salt and pepper. It is a great side to your meal in place of the usual potato mash.
- Rocket or spinach – use these as an easy base of any meal. I love spinach wilted down in a pan in a little coconut oil.
- Crispy Brussels sprouts – halve them and then place in a pan with lots of coconut oil, salt and pepper, and then fry them up until they are crispy and delicious. Try adding spices like turmeric, garlic or smoked paprika.
- Green beans – fry them up with chili, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and tamari (a wheat-free soy sauce, preferably organic).
- Pesto – add this to meals like pasta or our delicious Honey Toasted Macadamia Nuts & Crispy Broccoli Salad, or have it as a snack with seed crackers and vegetable sticks.
If all else fails, or your kids are still refusing to touch their greens, try wilting them and adding them to soups, casseroles, curries, Bolognese sauces and more. You (and your kids) will hardly know that they are there.
You can also up your green intake by having just a teaspoon daily of our Changing Habits Supreme Green Blend powder. Try it in water or a smoothie. Keep in mind though that you still need to be consuming plenty of greens for fibre and cruciferous vegetables for sulfur.
Greens offer so many health benefits so be sure to add some to every meal – hopefully you’ll find this easier now we’ve given you some delicious ways to serve them!