With green vegetables always listed as a must-have staple for a nutritious diet, how can you tell which ones pack the most nutrition? This article is meant to help you decipher the top 4 green vegetables at your favorite grocery store and describes what each has to offer.
Why Popeye Really Ate Spinach
With all of its nutritious offerings, it’s no wonder it’s on the top four green vegetables list and why Popeye ate spinach to beef up his biceps. Spinach, like other dark leaf green vegetables such as kale, romaine lettuce and collard greens, are a terrific source of vitamin K – a vitamin essential to proper blood clotting and bone healing and may have anti-inflammatory properties necessary to curb cardiovascular disease and cancers. In fact, in only a one cup serving, it offers over 180% of your daily recommended allowance.
The best spinach for you that yields the highest nutrient content is the one that comes fresh from the garden. Although very easy to grow, this is not always the most convenient option. The bagged spinach leaves you buy in your produce section have been sitting for days in transit, in addition to the time it’s spent on the shelves. This means, its nutrient content has dwindled. A healthier alternative is buying frozen, since spinach is picked fresh at its peak, then typically flash frozen, meaning more healthy nutrients are retained.
Calories per one cup serving=7; Fiber per serving=0.7
Don’t Forget to Eat Your Broccoli!
There is a reason why your mother always told you to eat your broccoli. It is because this is one of the top 4 green vegetables that boasts a very high fiber content, 135% of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin C as well as vitamin K, folate, potassium, and iron. It is also surprisingly high in calcium for a vegetable and contains indoles, which are nitrogen compounds that studies have shown prevent stomach tumors. And it’s not just stomach cancers broccoli will help you dodge. Its high carotenoid antioxidant content also soak up free radicals in your body that cause cancer.
The best way to prepare broccoli is to steam it. Steaming maintains its high nutrient content. Microwaving and stir-frying get rid of some of the nutrients.
Calories per one cup serving=31; Fiber per serving=2.4 grams.
Spears Up to Asparagus
Asparagus yields a high count of folate, which helps keep homocysteine levels at bay – the amino acid commonly known to contribute to heart disease. Folate is also essential for pregnant women as it also protects against neural tube defects in babies. It is also high in potassium and antioxidants and can also act as a mild laxative and diuretic – eliminating excess water from your body. The green varieties are good source of vitamin C.
Asparagus can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Eaten raw, all you need to do is shave the thin outer layer with a potato peeler; however, you can eat it with the skin on – it’s just a lot tougher. You can also lightly steam, grill, or roast those spears. I love blanching the asparagus in boiling water for two minutes, then sautéing in fresh garlic infused olive oil for one minute.
Calories per one cup serving=27; Fiber per serving=2.8 grams
Why You Can’t Forget Artichokes
Although quite alien looking on the shelves in your produce department, artichokes are packed with nutrients essential to good health. Artichokes are full of magnesium, potassium, folate, and fiber. The also help your body produce bile in your liver, which aids in the digestion of fatty foods. They also help promote healthy muscle function, which is a good idea for anyone. Artichokes may also be taste modifiers, simulating sweet receptors in your mouth. This means that if you eat something after eating an artichoke, it will taste sweeter than it is. Just try drinking water after eating artichokes – it will taste a bit sweet.
A good tip is to try eating them with olive oil or broth. This will keep them healthy for you instead of such things as butter sauces can do. If you’ve never tried an artichoke before, you simply steam it, then you pull the leaves off and scrape the tender parts off of the leaves and leave the rest of the leaf. Towards the center, you will hit the undeveloped flower part of the artichoke, or the choke, you pull this part out with a spoon, then you cut up and eat the heart.
Calories per serving (one medium artichoke)=60; Fiber per serving=6.9 grams
Tips for Eating Your Top 4 Green Vegetables
Let’s face it, some people just cannot tolerate broccoli or spinach because of their genetic make-up. If you find the taste of veges still too bitter after cooking and seasoning, hold your nose closed with your fingers. This will help dull the taste of it as much of our taste relies on what we’re smelling as well.