If there is one thing you can do to enhance your diet, it’s adding in more green vegetables. These power foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Regardless of what diet you follow—vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, or paleo, adding more green vegetables can support you in improving your overall health.
According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, eating vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Additionally, eating veggies over higher-calorie foods can help manage body weight.
The U.S. government guidelines’ recommended intake for vegetables per day is 2 to 2.5 cups for women and 3 to 3.5 cups for men. In a 2013 report by the CDC, data showed that 87 percent of Americans did not meet the recommended daily vegetable intake from 2007 to 2010.
The good news is that you can enjoy a wide variety of vegetables to hit your daily intake. Keep in mind that each vegetable has its own unique makeup of vitamins and minerals, so it is important to rotate through different types of vegetables to get all of the nutrients that your body needs.
While there are plenty of green vegetables to choose from, here are some of the more nutrient-dense options for you to try:
Remember to focus on consuming darker green leafy vegetables like spinach, mixed greens, and arugula, instead of vegetables like iceberg and romaine lettuce, because they have more vitamins and minerals.
If you are tired of always eating salads to get your vegetables in, here are five new ways for you to incorporate more vegetables into your diet.
This simple and quick technique is a great way to cook your greens. Some greens that are good for sautéing are:
Follow these five easy steps to prepare your favorite greens:
A smoothie is a great way to pack in a lot of nutrients in one place. Add one to two handfuls of green vegetables to your morning or afternoon protein smoothie. Some common greens that you can add to your smoothie are:
If you get adventurous, add celery or cucumber to your smoothie as well. If you have never added greens to a smoothie, spinach is a nice place to start because it has a mild flavor.
Green juice is another way to reap the benefits of vitamins and minerals found in green vegetables. Note that juicing does not provide the same fiber benefits as smoothies or eating your greens. Some green juices also tend to be very high in sugar because of the other fruits or vegetables that are added.
Juicing lends itself to many different green vegetables, including:
Whether you are making a simple egg scramble or an egg frittata, consider adding a few handfuls of green vegetables to the mix. Some green vegetables that mix really nicely with eggs are:
Green powders provide a wide variety of concentrated green vegetables. A great benefit to incorporating green powders into your diet is that they include plant-algae like spirulina and chlorella.
There are many different types of green powders available at your local health food stores. Look for an organic green powder, and if you have a gluten sensitivity, make sure the product is certified “gluten-free” as some blends use barley grass, which contains gluten. As always, make sure to look at what type of sweetener is used and how much sugar the green powder contains (stick to less than five grams of sugar per serving).
A warm bowl of soup is another great way to incorporate several different vegetables into one meal. You can either make a chopped vegetable soup or a pureed soup. Consider adding these vegetables to your next soup:
By incorporating more green vegetables into your diet, you will be crowding out other processed foods that aren’t as nutrient dense. Remember to fill half of your plate with vegetables to make sure you supply your body with the nourishment it deserves.
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