What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your perfect meal? Is it a big, juicy roast? A bowl full of warming soup? Delicate canapés? Lovely, stodgy puds? It could be any or all of the above, and plenty more besides. It’s pretty rare that someone chooses a steaming plate of broccoli or cabbage, or perhaps, to be really on trend, kale, as the food they most craved.
The problem is, it is these green veggies that are possibly the very best things we can eat, and we could all do with adding more of them to our diets. Still not convinced? Here are some of the reasons to eat your greens!
Cruciferous greens are foods like collards, kale and Swiss chard, and really, when it comes to vegetables, these are the best of the best. They are stocked full of magnesium, potassium, fibre and magnesium and they help to lower blood pressure, keeping everyone calmer and healthier – lower blood pressure reduces the chances of stroke and heart disease.
Cruciferous greens are also loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. All together, studies have shown that this can mean you will be less liable to developing chronic illnesses.
One of the easiest ways to enjoy cruciferous greens more is to add them to smoothies and juices, or even soups. They barely have any calories so you can eat as much as you want.
Herbs such as basil, dill and parsley shouldn’t be forgotten when we’re talking about getting more healthy greens into our diets. What’s really great about fresh herbs is that they can liven up any meal, and adding the right flavour combinations is a fun way to make even everyday dishes taste wonderful.
Plus, of course, they’re good for you. Something like sage has been shown to improve memory, for example, and peppermint reduces pain from IBS and stomach complaints. Basil improves immunity and fights infections. Rosemary reduces the symptoms of the common cold. The list goes on, so spruce up your dinner with some herbs and your health will certainly improve.
Broccoli is a wonderful source of vitamin C (which boosts the immune system, builds collagen (which in turn builds bone and tissue) and heals wounds) and vitamin K (which helps with blood clotting and keeps you safe if you are injured). On top of this, broccoli also has plenty of fibre in it which improves digestive health and lowers cholesterol. Then there’s the folate in broccoli too; this helps to create and maintain new cells.
Broccoli isn’t to everyone’s taste and it can get pretty watery when it is boiled up, so instead try eating it raw or add it uncooked to a tasty stir fry.
Asparagus is such a fresh, spring-like vegetable that is always a pleasure to see on a plate – it means that the winter has finally packed its bags for another year. Asparagus’ main claim to fame is the amount of fibre it contains which, as we’ve already explored, is fantastic for the digestive system. Plus there is vitamin C and K in there too.
One of the most delicious ways to eat asparagus would be to steam or roast it, and dip it in runny egg yolk instead of using toast – it makes for a delicious meal.
Avocados are extremely popular at the moment, and for good reason. They have a uniquely creamy texture and flavour, but their health benefits are fantastic too. Avocados are a rich source of omega 3 fats, antioxidants, vitamin E and protein.
Omega 3 fatty acids reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke, and vitamin E maintains healthy skin and eyes as well as boosting the immune system.
Avocados are truly versatile foods that taste great no matter whether you put them in a salad, a sandwich, make them into a dip, or put them into a dessert. If you really don’t like the taste, you can mash them up and use them as a face mask too!
Kiwi fruit is super tasty and super good for you, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t have more of them in your life. They cleanse the palette and the blood, so they’re ideal in a sorbet, plus they balance blood sugar levels, helping to keep your body regulated and healthy.
Although peas are actually a starchy kind of vegetable – therefore they contain more calories and carbs than others which can have a negative effect on blood sugar levels – they are still better for you than a lot of other foods, and are incredibly nutritious. They contain protein, vitamins A, C and K, niacin, folate, thiamine and fibre, so they’re great for your gut.
Boil them in plain water and once they are drained and still hot add a knob of butter.
There is only one problem with spinach – you need a lot of it to make a good meal out it! However, as a garnish, an ingredient, or in a smoothie it’s amazing, and amazingly good for you too. Just 30g of spinach will give you a whopping 56 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement, and all of your vitamin K. You get all of that, and it will only cost you seven calories.
Watercress has been used for centuries in herbal medicines, but scientific studies haven’t confirmed exactly what it can do for us. All we do know is that generations have believed that watercress has exceptional healing properties. The studies that have been carried out have determined one important fact, however; in test tubes, watercress extract seems to be able to target cancer stem cells, stopping them from reproducing.