Green food reaches peak popularity about once a year, but you should really be adding green fruits and vegetables to your diet on a regular basis.
Why does color matter?
Because plants get their color from phytonutrients, or plant nutrients—natural substances that help protect the plant from free radicals and also support human health.
Each color on the spectrum—white/pale, red, orange/yellow, blue/purple and green—represents a different family of phytonutrients.
Benefits of leafy greens
Green vegetables and fruits are rich in fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins A, C, E and K.
Some of the key phytonutrients in green produce are isothiocyanate, lutein, zeaxanthin, isoflavones and EGCG. They support arterial function and cell, lung and vision health.
A diet rich in leafy greens is believed to provide a host of benefits, including reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure. Plus, researchers think a daily serving of green leafy vegetables may slow cognitive decline.
Here’s what a few of them do for you specifically:
- Spinach is thought to protect against a host of diseases, including cancer, heart disease and macular degeneration.
- Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale contain sulforaphane, which has cancer-fighting capabilities.
- Dark leafy greens and peppers are a good source of beta-carotene.
- Collard greens, kale, spinach and other greens support your eye health.
- Green-colored fruits, such as honeydew melon, kiwifruit and limes, are good sources of vitamin C.
Green food options
Lettuce may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of green produce, but you have so many more options.
Think about avocados, apples, grapes, limes, peas, arugula, asparagus, beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, leeks, green onions, peppers, spinach, watercress, okra, bok choy, cabbage and collard greens.
And don’t forget about green herbs, like mint, chives, rosemary, thyme, basil and sage.
Adding greens to your diet
Salads are an easy go-to when looking for ways to add green to your diet, but don’t think you’re limited to iceberg lettuce.
Mixed greens like arugula, spinach and watercress topped with fresh snipped herbs make a flavorful combination that complements most meals.
Here are a few other suggestions for using all those green goodies in the produce section:
- Chopped spinach and other greens are easy to sneak into soups, sauces and other recipes.
- Kiwi and honeydew melon are great additions to yogurt, oatmeal, french toast or pancakes.
- Avocado makes a quick salad dressing, dip or trendy toast topper.
- Asparagus, cabbage and even lettuce are tasty when given the grill treatment.
- Omelets, scrambles or frittatas can be customized with your favorite green herbs and veggies.
- Celery, sugar snap peas and other green produce are great out-of-hand snacking options when kept washed and ready to eat.
Best way to cook vegetables
If you want to get as many nutrients as possible from your greens, it’s best to avoid boiling or frying and go for steaming or eating raw—especially if they’re in season.
Stir frying, boiling and some of the other cooking methods can leach nutrients out of your meal before it ever reaches your plate.
Learn more about phytonutrients
You can learn more about the benefits of phytonutrients and which ones are found in other colors of fruits and vegetables at AmwayConnections.com.