Your Guide to Greens: Vitamins, Minerals and Health Benefits
We all know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is good for our health, and green vegetables in particular have many benefits, especially for older people. “We are focused on planning and preparing healthy, balanced meals for our patients when we are at home with them,” said Tate Blanchard, director of marketing and community outreach at IC Care. “We also provide our professional caregivers with training on how and what to prepare for patients with dietary restrictions due to medical conditions,” Blanchard added.
Vegetables are generally low in calories and high in essential nutrients. But what makes kale, spinach, arugula, broccoli and other green vegetables so special?
Studies show that consuming leafy greens can help slow cognitive decline, and some varieties may even help prevent heart disease, inflammation, cancer, and osteoporosis. If you’re trying to get more green vegetables into your diet, check out our guide to vitamins, minerals, and the benefits of each type. Please note that this list is not exhaustive.
Kale is a dark, leafy green that governs the nutrient-rich roost. You can roast, steam or sauté this super food and enjoy it in a salad, soup, side dish, or smoothie.
- It is a wonderful source of vitamins A, D, C and K, as well as beta-carotene and lutein antioxidants, fiber, potassium and calcium.
- Research suggests that kale supports brain health and helps prevent heart disease, reduces cancer risk, contains anti-inflammatory agents, and promotes bone health.
Spinach is a dark leafy green that is popular in dips, salads, and wraps. It is especially easy to include in smoothies because it does not have a very strong taste and can be added to delicious fruit or milk.
- This native Persian vegetable contains protein and fiber and contains many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, K, B6, B9, E, folic acid, iron and calcium.
- The other nutrients include potassium, magnesium, and iron.
- It contains anti-cancer antioxidants, reduces the risk of macular degeneration, helps prevent heart disease, and helps stabilize blood pressure.
Arugula is native to the Mediterranean and is a dark, leafy green known for its pungent, peppery taste. You can add it to salads, eat it on its own, mix it into a pasta dish, or use it as a pizza topping!
- Packed with essential nutrients such as calcium, potassium, vitamin C and folic acid (vitamin B9).
- Promotes bone health, muscle and nerve function, heart health / function, immune system support and iron absorption.
- Folate is especially important during pregnancy.
This delicious green vegetable is especially delicious when grilled and can be added to salads, pizzas, pasta and eggs!
- It’s packed with antioxidants, protein, fiber, vitamins C, A, K, and E, as well as folate, potassium, zinc, iron, and phosphorus.
- It helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, promotes bone and heart health, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
You’re probably not alone if you didn’t know you can eat the greens on top of beets. Guess what? It is also a super food!
- These green vegetables contain fiber that supports digestive health and lowers blood sugar and cholesterol.
- Also contains vitamin A, which supports bone health, reduces certain cancer risks, and promotes healthy immune system.
- Contains Vitamin K, which helps blood clot, promotes bone health, and helps wounds heal faster.
Bok Choy leaves are thick and dark green. This popular Chinese cabbage is often used in stir-fries (but you can really put it in anything!).
- Contains vitamins C, E and K, beta-carotene and folate.
- Contains fiber that supports digestive health, and selenium helps reduce inflammation and slows tumor growth.
- Iron, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium promote strong bones.
Even if you are not a big fan of green leaves, you can still get some wonderful nutrients from broccoli! This popular cruciferous vegetable tastes great raw or cooked (or with cheese on top!).
- Broccoli has been called a superfood because of its high level of powerful nutrients including protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, K, B9, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium.
- It is widely valued for its anti-cancer antioxidants such as lutein and sulforaphane.
- Other vital benefits include digestive health, boosting the immune system, and preventing heart disease.
Cabbage is a leafy green vegetable that also grows in red and white varieties. Many cultures and countries enjoy it in soups, salads, sauerkraut, casseroles and in rolls.
- This abundantly available vegetable contains many vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, K, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, zinc, riboflavin and folate.
- Also a good source of protein and fiber.
- Health benefits include anti-inflammatory agents like glutamine, which reduce joint pain, allergies, and fever.
- It also promotes bowel regularity, heart and skin health, eye health, and cataract prevention.
Collard greens are distinguished by their unique texture and bitter taste. You can shred them into casseroles, add them to soup and chili, or toss them into salads.
- These leafy staple foods contain calcium, vitamins A, C, K, and folate.
- Calcium promotes strong bones and is a major source of vitamin K, which plays a key role in blood clotting.
Overall, eating one or more servings of green vegetables each day will put you on the path to a healthier future!
Active Aging is presented by IC Care, Companion care at home. IC Care is the Ohio Valley’s premier home care agency, providing support services to help seniors age in place.