Eating leafy greens forms an important part of a plant-based diet because they are incredibly good for health. Due to this, they are part of all types of balanced diets, and this includes those containing meat. Also, they have high nutrient density; so, they are put up on the pedestal of nutrition. Having said that, you need not obsess over them as you will be fine if you occasionally miss them out, especially if you are eating a balanced diet. Read on to know why it is important to eat leafy greens.
What Are Leafy Greens?
Leafy greens are plant leaves that are used in a variety of plant-based recipes; you will find them in most types of vegetable salads as they are easier to prep. They can be consumed in different ways; some are nutritious when consumed raw, while others are better when cooked. This difference is because in the latter case cooking or processing the food releases the nutrients that are trapped in it which will be otherwise inaccessible to the body. Also, there are dark leafy greens that have more nutrient value.
Listed below are some of the commonly used leafy greens in recipes:
- Pea shoots
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, mints, etc.
- Beet and turnip greens
What Is The Nutrient Content Of Leafy Greens?
As already stated, leafy greens are rich in nutrients, and this the main reason that you must try to include them in your diet. They are good sources of vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, beta carotenes, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. On top of this, they have fewer calories, and this when combined with their high fiber content makes them filling when included in meals. This is an ideal combination and is one of the main reasons for including them in diets focusing on weight loss.
Leafy greens also contain good amounts of antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols. These compounds protect the cells and tissues of the body from the oxidative stress caused by free radicals that are produced as part of our metabolism. So, consuming leafy green vegetables in a plant-based diet lowers the risk for cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, diabetes, stroke, and macular degeneration.
On a final note, studies have shown that including leafy greens in your diet improves sleep quality, reduces the symptoms of asthma, and improves lung function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).