Thursday, July 29, 2010

Make Friends with Leafy Green Vegetables

If you’re interested in nutrition at all, you’ve probably read that leafy green vegetables are associated with lower risk for various diseases. Just what is meant by leafy green vegetables and why are they so good for us? This category of vegetables includes spinach, kale, swiss chard, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, and collards. They are nutritional powerhouses, loaded with antioxidants, vitamins C, K, and A; folate; potassium; magnesium; iron; lutein; and phytochemicals. These substances benefit our bodies in many ways:

Eyes – Two pigments in leafy greens, lutein and zeaxanthin, may protect the lens and retina of the eye, acting as antioxidants. Greens are so rich in these micronutrients that just two servings a week are all that’s needed.

Bones – The vitamin K in leafy greens is thought to protect bone, helping it rebuild as it naturally breaks down. In studies, people who consumed leafy greens had lower risk of hip fractures and greater spine and hip bone density than those who didn’t.

Memory – Cognitive decline has been observed to be less in women eating the most leafy greens of those studied.

Diabetes – Overweight women can lower their risk of diabetes by eating leafy greens, according to researchers.

Stroke – Incidents of the most common form of stroke were reduced in women who ate leafy greens on a daily basis. The vegetables lower risk by 20% for every serving consumed each day.

If you’re convinced to increase your intake of these nutritional powerhouses, that’s great. Just note that vitamin K is known for its ability to help blood clot, so if you take a blood thinner, be sure to talk with your doctor first. Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter July/August 2007

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