By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Eat your greens! We’ve all heard that, but so often people ask, “But why?” Let me try to break down the answer for you! It is estimated that only 1 in 5 people actually eat the recommended 5 serves of vegetables per day and this recommendation is only the minimum amount suggested to avoid chronic disease. Many other countries such as Japan and France are encouraged to eat up to 10-13 portions daily for good health and a large percentage should be greens.
You simply can’t ignore the evidence of how important they are for good health. There are so many ways to enjoy green vegetables in dishes, juices and smoothies, so there are no excuses not to enjoy!
My old favourite saying that my dad use to always tell me was ‘Greens Cleans’ and so it does and more!
1.) High in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Vitamins A, E, C, K, Bs, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, folic acid, carotenoids, Omega 3 fatty acids, chlorophyll and other phyto-nutrient compounds.
2.) Support a healthy immune system.
Studies show that a diet high in green vegetables supports a healthy immune system. One study showed that specialised cells called intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs) in the gut and skin layer that support the first line of defence and in wound repair are stimulated by special compounds in green vegetables. After feeding otherwise healthy mice a vegetable-poor diet for 2-3 weeks, 70-80% of these specialised protective cells in the gut and skin disappeared. Otherwise greens also provide nutrients and compounds to support healthy white blood cell production and activity and support other immune functions.
3.) They reduce the risk of cancer.
Cancer unfortunately affects 1 in 4 people at some stage of their life, although we constantly hear reports about new wonder drugs that promise to cure cancer but unfortunately they often don’t live up to their promise. Prevention is key! Many studies indicate a diet rich in vegetables reduces the risk of cancer significantly. Cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli are rich in indoles and isothiocyanates, which protect us against colon and other cancers. A higher consumption of green leafy vegetables has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer and skin cancer.
4.) They support a healthy metabolism and weight control.
They support organ health and provide nutrients and enzymes for an efficient metabolism, thyroid and energy production in the body.
5.) They are high in nutrition, low in calories and have a very low glycemic index.
Anything that offers few calories and dense nutrition is a highly desirable food, since we often see the damaging ill effects of an over feed and under nourished society, greens are a valuable remedy offering an average of 50 calories per cup.
6.) They can reduce cravings.
Due to the high mineral content of green vegetables such as magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium and other trace minerals plus fibre they can reduce cravings for less nutritious high calorie foods. So next when you have a sugar craving try a green smoothie or juice instead! You will be surprised.
7.) They are alkalising to the system.
Greens have a cleansing and alkalising effect on the blood which supports the natural detoxifying processes, maintains bone and tissue health, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.
8.) Supports good bacteria in the GIT.
The nutrients and fibre in green vegetables provide food for intestinal bacteria which in turn supports immune health in the digestive tract, assists with faecal development, reduces inflammation in the gut lining and helps provide small amounts of Vitamin K and B vitamins.
9.) Greens can make you happy!
Last year, scientists at Warwick University found that people who ate seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day are the happiest. They believe it was due to the carotenoid content that is present in dark green, orange and red fruits and vegetables.
It is really important to consume and enjoy your greens and there are many ways to prepare and/or add them to a dish, smoothie or juice. You can:
Here are some GREEN reboot recipes! ENJOY!