All The Greens That Are Good for You

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to create a list of our favorite “greens” to keep in the kitchen. Lucky for you, this list of foods boasts benefits ranging from energy boosts to gut health with some great cooking tips along the way. We hate to break with tradition, but it’s time to ditch the pot o’ gold for a bowl o’ green!

Leafy greens (spinach/arugula/kale)

Just because leafy greens are low in calories and high in water content doesn’t mean they aren’t doing anything for you. On the contrary, they are actually powerhouses when it comes to nutrition and something you should try to consume daily. They contain high amounts of vitamins A and C which are building blocks for your body’s natural defenses.

Broccoli

There’s a reason why our parents always told us to eat our broccoli. The vibrant green florets are well known for having many health benefits and often regarded as one of the healthiest foods in the world.  Broccoli contains high amounts of phytochemicals and other compounds seen to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and even cancer. We recommend roasting it with olive oil and garlic or making broccoli soup.

Kiwis

Did you know that one kiwi has more potassium than in a banana? Not only do kiwis contain potassium, but they are also a great source of magnesium. Think of a kiwi as an edible Gatorade — without all the refined sugar and sodium.

Matcha green tea

If you look to coffee as your drink of choice first thing in the morning, you may want to rethink some things. Matcha green tea powder or loose tea is not only delicious but can also boost cognitive performance. Researchers have found that matcha contains several components that can help enhance cognitive function from the speed of attention to even memory. A better way to get an energy boost in the morning? Yes, please!

Fresh green herbs (cilantro/parsley/dill)

Want to make your food flavorful without adding a ton of calories? Use fresh green herbs! They are almost negligible in calories and bursting with flavor. Adding herbs also allows you to cook with less fat and less sodium which is believed to help decrease the risk of hypertension (aka high blood pressure). If you’re thinking of giving a gift this St. Patrick’s Day, consider a pot of herbs — a gift that keeps on giving.

Avocados

We don’t think any millennial needs a reminder to eat avocados, but we do think many need a refresher on why they’re more than hip — they’re healthy! Avocados have our heart because they are a wonderful source of monounsaturated fat (the kind of fat that decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease) and they are also a great source of fiber. Just one cup of avocado contains 10 grams of fiber! That combo of healthy fats and fiber put avocados at the top of the list of heart-healthy foods.

Green powders (spirulina, chlorella)

Superfood powders are probably one of the biggest trends of 2018. Green powders Spirulina and Chlorella, are both blue-algae powders that are concentrated vitamin, mineral and phytochemical powders. Add them to smoothies for a big dose of nutrition. We were convinced to try it out once the beautiful Miranda Kerr stated she uses Spirulina in her morning smoothie. Maybe that is the secret to her amazing skin?

All greens juices

We are not all about juice cleanses because we know our liver has our back when it comes to detoxing.  We do however like that juice stores are selling products that contain only greens and low-sugar fruits. These are perfect to have when you’re traveling and don’t have access to fresh veggies or as part of your afternoon snack for a burst of energy thanks to the B-vitamins. Definitely toast with one this St. Patty’s Day.

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts, like broccoli, may also bring back some childhood memories. Thankfully, culinary geniuses have discovered you can do way more with brussels sprouts than just steam them. They can be shaved down and added to a salad with fresh lemon and olive oil or even roasted with garlic and parmesan.  One of the best reasons for eating more brussels sprouts is their benefit to gut health. For every six grams of carbohydrates in brussels sprouts, there are two grams of fiber. A high-fiber diet has been shown to help with increasing healthy gut microflora and to promote regularity.

Green lentils

Green lentils are just one part of the lentil family. Lentils are a legume and are a great source of fiber and protein. If you’re looking to decrease animal protein in your diet, look to green lentils. Just one cup provides the same amount of protein as 2.5 ounces of meat. It also packs 15 grams of soluble fiber which helps decrease total cholesterol reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke. Need some cooking inspo? Try this lentil soup recipe by Cookie and Kate!

You don’t need to embrace every green on the list, but we definitely recommend celebrating with some. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Gabriella is a registered dietitian living in the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently works in corporate wellness as a dietitian and overall wellness coach. She also runs a food blog called Macrobalanced, where she shows people that healthy and balanced eating can be interesting and tasty! She enjoys all things fitness from lifting heavy weights in the gym to hitting the barre. Nothing is off limits as long as sweat is involved. When she is not cooking or sweating, she is playing with her dog Maui, a lively German Shepherd. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.