Why might you want to increase your leafy greens intake? The reasons are plentiful. Leafy greens like spinach, arugula and kale are an essential part of a healthy diet. They’re loaded with nutrients from vitamins, minerals and fiber to polyphenols. A diet rich in leafy greens offers several health benefits, including:
Leafy greens decrease blood pressure
Since greens are rich in nitrates, research suggests that they can help lower blood pressure. For instance, a study found that consuming 1 cup or more of green leafy vegetables daily could decrease blood pressure (as well as lower the risk for heart disease!).
Leafy greens enhance brain function
Research suggests that leafy greens may not only slow cognitive decline but also enhance memory. A study concluded that when compared to participants who did not consume many leafy greens, those who consumed the highest daily amounts had reduced rates of cognitive decline. These individuals also had better memory.
Leafy greens decrease the risk for disease
Leafy greens enhance bone health
What’s one of the main nutrients to eat for optimal bone health? Calcium! Not only are leafy greens rich in calcium but they also contain vitamin K. Vitamin K is another nutrient that is essential for building bones. Turnip greens, kale and collards are especially dense in calcium and vitamin K!
Strive to eat a diverse array of vegetables, and don’t leave out your greens! We should all aim to eat 4-5 servings of vegetables per day. This means that if you throw a salad together using 3 cups of mixed greens, or make a sauté with 1.5 cups of cooked greens – then you are more than halfway there (½ cup of cooked greens or 1 cup of raw greens gives you 1 serving of vegetables)!