Green vegetables are nutritional powerhouses and scientists are now telling us to eat double the recommended five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. But despite now being fully-fledged adults (or trying to be), many don’t eat enough greens or realise how much they impact our health. We’re here to remind you of their benefits and to give sneaky tips to help you on your way to the perfect 10.
Green vegetables are nature’s multivitamin. Packed with vitamins A, C and K to name a few, greens can help to prevent many chronic diseases.
Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in your body and is found in leafy greens like collard greens, spinach and swiss chard. It can contribute to the growth and repair of tissues and acts as an anti-oxidant, protecting cells from harmful viruses. Vitamin A can also help to maintain healthy eyesight, ensuring the smooth functioning of the retina and other parts of the eye.
Kale and spinach contain high levels of Vitamin K, which plays a vital role in bone formation and strength and has the potential to increase bone mass. Calcium is also essential to maintain healthy teeth and bones and is found in broccoli and collard greens. An increased calcium intake can help to reduce the risk of diseases like osteoporosis.
Include these greens in salads, or use to bulk up pasta sauces or stir-fries to benefit from their nutritious goodness.
Iron deficiency is common in the UK, particularly amongst women. It’s essential for growth and development and aids the transfer of oxygen around the body. If you’re often tired, you’re probably not getting enough iron. So take a leaf out of Popeye’s book (pun intended of course) and reach for the spinach. Spinach is rich in iron, and is probably the most versatile green due to its subtle taste. Blend in a smoothie or protein shake, or try these green pancakes to sneak in veggies at breakfast!
Green Pancakes (Serves 1)
Guideline: 250kcals; P: 34g F: 5.5g C: 18g
- Half banana
- 1 egg
- Spinach – big handful
- 1 Scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Milk (enough to thin out the batter)
Blend all the ingredients to a smooth batter. Spoon the mixture into a heated pan, greased with coconut oil. Flip after underside has set and cook on the other side. Stack and top with your favourite toppings.
Fiber is very beneficial to our bodies. It can contribute to the reduction of heart disease and can help regulate your digestive system and blood sugar throughout the day. Split peas, avocados and Brussel sprouts (agreed, they aren’t for everyone) are great fibre sources and can help you feel fuller for longer.
Additionally, green veggies are great ‘volume foods’ i.e. a large quantity is low in calories. Celery and cucumber contain 95-96% water therefore you’ll get the benefits without consuming loads of calories. Courgette and lettuce are also great volume foods to accompany main meals.
Protein is essential to our diets and helps build lean muscle. There’s a common misunderstanding that meat is the best protein source. But the humble vegetable shouldn’t be underestimated as some green veg contain high levels of protein. For every 100g, broccoli contains 4.3g of protein, peas contain 5.3g and edamame beans, a massive 11g of protein. Green veggies are important for vegetarians or vegans, and are a great protein top-up for meat-eaters. Make your own houmous by blending chickpeas, edamame beans and mint with salt, pepper and cumin for a plant-based protein snack.
Ensure to eat a variety of greens to get all their amazing benefits. Don’t just rely on any one vegetable to satisfy your health needs as they all contain different levels of the good stuff. But trust us, it’s there!