Eating greens is the nutritional pot of gold

Kelly Burgess

Kelly Burgess

I consider greens the nutritional pot of gold  because of the unique bounty of nutritional benefits in this particularly lucky color of foods. 

The color green has many associations, but almost all relate to prosperity, health or wealth. For example, green means go, the grass is always greener, and it never hurts to have a little green in your pocket.

“Make sure you eat your greens,” may have been some of the wisest and luckiest health advice you have ever received. Thankfully, the edible greens are as diverse as the shades and hues on the spectrum of the color itself. Choose your favorite shade of green, and there is bound to be a tasty counterpart bearing the color. The shade Kelly green is one of my favorites, but also because spinach and broccoli are two of my favorite go-to greens!

Other delicious greens include kale, swiss chard and cabbage, just to name a few. While all greens share some of the same nutrients and health benefits, they do have unique nutrient profiles as well, which may help you decide which ones to focus on adding to your personal diet.

Most all greens contain high levels of Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Interestingly, beta-carotene is an orange pigment, but it is still present in green veggies. Chlorophyll masks the orange color but is thankfully not strong enough to take away its nutritional benefits. Vitamin A is especially helpful for immunity and eye health.

Vitamin C is also rich in most green foods, providing immune protection and keeping your skin looking young and “green” by preventing wrinkling later in life. Greens are also a crucial supplier of Folate, a B vitamin that promotes cell reproduction and differentiation, which is especially important for growing youth and pregnant women.

More specifically, spinach is a great source of iron, which is noteworthy for women and vegetarians. Kale is also a wonderful source of Calcium, which is key to bone health and electrolyte balance. Cabbage, along with the other greens, is a great food source of cancer fighting chemicals.

Luckily there is such a variety of green foods, and equally as many ways to enjoy them. Some of my favorite ways to enjoy greens are in smoothies, salads and soups, or used as add-ons to other favorite dishes. If you are a little skeptical of spinach, try mixing it with other greens such as romaine lettuce or spring mix in your salad. Spinach can also be disguised in smoothies with berries, bananas and apples. You will see the color, but hardly taste any difference.

Kale is a little bit more tough and fibrous, so it is great cooked and added to  other dishes. Make sure you keep the water from your kale and swiss chard — the cooking process makes the water vitamin-rich, so use that as a base for soup instead of spending money on commercial broths. You can always add some green to your omelets, pastas and sandwiches as well. St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect opportunity to try your hand with cabbage; skillet cooking with a little olive oil and black pepper makes for a perfect side with pork or sausage. In the summer months, eat your cabbage as cole slaw!

Since you were lucky enough to find this pot of gold, don’t forget to stay healthy and keep it green!