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The Ultimate Leafy Green Vegetables To Supercharge Your Diet

The Ultimate Leafy Green Vegetables To Supercharge Your Diet

Leafy green vegetables are a diverse group of veggies celebrated for their rich green hue and impressive array of nutrients. They stand out from other vegetables due to their high content of essential vitamins (such as A, E, K, and folate), minerals (like calcium and potassium), fiber, and beneficial phytonutrients. Also, these nutrient powerhouses offer a significant health boost on a calorie-for-calorie basis.

Incorporating leafy greens into your diet is not only tasty but also a smart move for your well-being. Vegetables, including leafy greens, play a crucial role in supporting the immune system and reducing the risk of chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and specific cancers. It’s been suggested that adults aim for 2-3 cups of veggies daily, making leafy greens an excellent choice to fulfill this recommendation. With a wide variety of leafy greens to choose from, adding them to your meals can be both effortless and enjoyable. Read on to learn more about the best leafy greens to add to your diet today.

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Garden Salad, Food, Plant, Ingredient, Salad, Recipe, Garden salad

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard belongs to the same plant family as beets. This leafy green vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse, particularly rich in vitamin K, essential for blood clotting and bone health. With one cup of raw Swiss chard containing a substantial 299 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K, it meets an impressive 249% of the daily recommended value. Additionally, Swiss chard offers 12% of the daily value for both vitamins A and C, crucial for bolstering immune function.

To make the most of Swiss chard, it is recommended to enjoy it from spring through fall. This versatile vegetable can be incorporated into your diet in various ways, such as adding it raw to salads and sandwiches or cooking it through methods like boiling, sautéing, braising, or including it in soups, casseroles, and stir-fries. Its flexibility and nutrient content make Swiss chard a valuable addition to a healthy and balanced diet.

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Turnip Greens

Turnip greens are a beloved staple in Soul food cuisine, praised by Mussatto for their rich calcium content, essential for strong bones and teeth. These greens are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with high levels of vitamin K and folate, a vital B vitamin crucial for DNA synthesis and preventing neural tube defects. Just one cup of raw turnip greens offers 138 mcg of vitamin K (115% of the daily value) and 107 mcg of folate (27% of the DV).

For the best flavor, turnip greens are recommended to be enjoyed from October through early spring. Mussatto suggests various cooking methods, with one luxurious approach being to simmer the greens slowly in broth with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a touch of honey, and a splash of apple cider vinegar.

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Kale

A single cup of raw kale contains 80 mcg of vitamin K, which makes up 66% of the Daily Value (DV), and 19 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, making up 21% of the DV. Additionally, kale provides 8% of the DV for manganese, a crucial mineral that plays a role in various bodily functions such as energy production, bone health, and reproduction.

Kale is at its best from October to early spring, similar to turnip greens. While kale is a popular choice for salads, its natural bitterness may not appeal to everyone. To balance out this bitterness, it is recommended to add a touch of sweetness to your kale salads by including ingredients like chopped apples or dried fruit. Mussatto suggests this simple tip to enhance the flavor of your kale salad.

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Collard Greens

Collard greens, a beloved nutritional staple in Southern cuisine, are renowned for their robust flavor. Typically prepared by cooking to reduce bitterness and enhance tenderness, one cup of cooked collard greens offers a plethora of essential nutrients. This includes 324 mg of calcium (25% of the Daily Value), 34 mg of vitamin C (38% of the DV), and 135 mcg of folate (34% of the DV). The prime season for enjoying the best-quality collard greens is from October through early spring.

Similar to kale and Swiss chard, collard greens contain lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that promote eye health and help in preventing eye-related conditions like macular degeneration. A single cooked cup of collard greens supplies an impressive 4,400 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin. While there isn’t a set daily value for these compounds, experts recommend a daily intake of 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin, with 1 mg equating to 1,000 mcg.

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Mustard Greens

Mustard greens, with their peppery taste reminiscent of mustard, complement hearty dishes such as cheese, curry, and meats. These greens, along with kale, collard, and turnip greens, are at their peak from October to early spring.

Rich in essential vitamins like A and C, mustard greens also provide important minerals like magnesium and potassium. Magnesium, known as the relaxation mineral, plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar, blood pressure, and muscle and nerve functions. Potassium, on the other hand, is essential for various bodily functions, including kidney, heart, muscle, and nerve health.

Tags: health, diet