12 Benefits of Leafy Greens In Your Diet
Leafy greens including kale, spinach, arugula, and chard are the undeniable superstars in the world of nutrition. Low in calories, yet high in fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients, the benefits of leafy greens are incredible for your health in more ways than you would even suspect.
Whether in whole food form, smoothies, or organic greens powders, leafy greens have the power to make you look and feel younger, and can even support healthy aging! Let’s discuss what exactly dark leafy greens are, the benefits of leafy greens, and how to include them in your diet.
While we all know that organic, non-GMO fruits and vegetables of any kind are good for us, some are far better than others. Fortunately, many crowd favorites such as spinach, kale, and collard greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even protein. Not to mention, dark leafy greens are very versatile and can be incorporated into your diet in fun, delicious ways.
If you still need convincing, I’m about to tell you about all the amazing benefits of leafy greens.
1. Green Veggies Support Optimal Brain Function
Do you want to support memory and reasoning as you enter your golden years? Eat your leafy green vegetables! A study found that people who ate the most leafy greens each day had slower rates of cognitive decline compared to those who ate the least.1 In fact, the leafy green-eaters had the memory equivalent of someone 11 years younger. This was even true after adjusting for other factors including lifestyle, education, and overall health.
Organic vegetables contain high levels of folate (B9). B vitamins facilitate the production of neurotransmitters (chemicals that transfer messages from the brain to the rest of the body) in the brain. Folate is found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce as well as in lemons, bananas, and melons.
2. Leafy Greens Reduce Belly Bloating
If you struggle with bloating it’s likely caused by your diet, a hormone imbalance, gut infections, or other digestive issues such as leaky gut, SIBO, or Candida overgrowth. I have a secret to tell you about how to get rid of belly-bloating. You guessed it – leafy greens!
Leafy greens contain high amounts of potassium, which is a mineral and an electrolyte. Potassium is essential to keep an optimal fluid balance in your body. A diet high in sodium (often due to an overreliance on processed foods) can trigger or worsen bloating and must be kept in check by adequate potassium intake – roughly 4,700 mg/day according to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines.2
A single cup of cooked spinach contains a whopping 840 mg of potassium to get you well on your way to meeting your daily requirements.3
3. Green Leafy Veggies Make Your Skin Glow
Beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A, is the plant pigment that we normally associate with carrots and other yellow-orange veggies. It is also hiding in leafy greens.
Fall is one of my favorite times of year because the leaves change color. As they lose chlorophyll (the pigment that makes them green), you begin to see the red, orange, and yellow pigments that the green leaves contain underneath. It’s these vibrant colors that are also responsible for the amazing health benefits of leafy greens.
Beta-carotene can support a youthful glow in your skin and even works from the inside out as a natural sunscreen, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. Kale is one of the best sources of beta-carotene, and research shows that cooking, juicing, or dehydrating kale helps your body better absorb beta-carotene.
4. Leafy Greens Relieve Stress
A big green smoothie is a great way to start your and relieve stress, Dark leafy greens are an excellent source of folate, which helps your body produce mood-regulating happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.4 Additionally, the magnesium found in leafy greens can help support cardiovascular health.5
5. Leafy Green Vegetables Support Bone Health
Do you remember those “Got Milk?” ads? They promised that by drinking a glass of milk every day you’d have strong bones. However, it’s important to remember that a large part of the population has a sensitivity or intolerance to cow’s dairy.
What’s more is that research has shown that milk consumption has no protective effect on fracture risk and may even increase the risk of hip fractures among women. That’s yet another great reason to ditch dairy for good. You can get plenty of calcium for optimal bone health from eating leafy greens. Green veggies such as broccoli and kale contain high amounts of all-important vitamin K, which promotes the formation of proteins that build bones and clots your blood.
6. Leafy Greens Support Healthy Aging
Everyone wants to keep a youthful glow to their skin. The fountain of youth is found in leafy greens. Leafy greens help delay the shortening of telomeres, the protective caps on our DNA that shorten with age.6 Once your body’s telomeres are completely gone, the cell dies. Broccoli sprouts, in particular, help preserve telomere length.
Eating dark leafy greens promotes skin health by protecting against the sun’s harmful UV rays. The beta-carotene found in leafy vegetables converts to vitamin A in the body, which supports the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, smooths the complexion, reduces dullness, and stimulates cell turnover for clear skin.
7. Improve Inflammatory Response
Supporting a healthy inflammatory response is essential to reduce your risk of developing an autoimmune disease. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collards are high in vitamin D, which promotes the formation of T-cells responsible for accurately differentiating between outside invaders and your body’s own cells.7
8. Green Veggies Help Regulate Blood Glucose Levels
Eating a serving of leafy greens with every meal facilitates healthy blood glucose levels. Even just including one extra serving of green leafy vegetables daily can make a big difference in blood glucose levels. Broccoli and broccoli sprouts are great green veggies to help lower blood glucose levels. Spinach and kale, which are also high in vitamin C, are also leafy greens to incorporate into your diet to help regulate blood glucose.
9. Leafy Greens Support Optimal Gut Health
A recently discovered gene known as T-bet that gets switched on by cruciferous veggies such as broccoli or brussels sprouts instructs precursor cells in your intestinal lining to produce innate lymphoid cells (ILCs).
The ILCs found in leafy greens protect your body against gut infections and facilitates a healthy inflammatory response. They also support a healthy immune system response, and helps seal the tight injunctions in your gut. ILCs also support an optimal balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut microbiome.
10. Green Leafy Vegetables Tame the Toxins
Taming the toxins is an essential component of The Myers Way®, and another benefit of leafy greens. Dark leafy greens are expert detoxifiers, thanks to chlorophyll–the pigment that makes them green! Chlorophyll-rich foods such as spirulina, chlorella, parsley, and alfalfa bind to heavy metals and toxins in your blood and carry them out of your body. Chlorophyll also supports your liver to facilitate the creation of your body’s natural detoxing nutrient, glutathione.
11. Green Vegetables Boost Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes are critical for breaking down and absorbing the nutrients from our food. As you get older, your body may stop making certain enzymes such as lactase that helps break down lactose, a sugar found in cow’s dairy. if you lack certain digestive enzymes you are likely to experience bloating, constipation, reflux, and nutrient deficiencies.
Leaky gut is one of the biggest culprits of enzyme deficiency, as well as inflammation from food sensitivities, chronic stress, genetics, and aging. Dark leafy greens are one of the best foods you can eat to support your body’s natural ability to produce digestive enzymes.
12. Leafy Greens Support Your Immune System
I’ve mentioned this a few times so far, however, it warrants repeating. One of the most promising benefits of leafy greens is how they support your immune system. Dark leafy greens such as moringa leaf facilitate a healthy response to oxidative stress caused by free radicals which, if left untreated, can lead to autoimmunity and heart disease. Studies specifically mention broccoli, arugula, and kale as vegetables that facilitate a healthy immune system response.
My Leafy Greens Vegetables List
Unless you’ve been taking notes, you might have missed all the leafy greens I’ve mentioned so far. Don’t worry! I’ve put together this convenient list of the healthiest leafy green vegetables for you to reference:
- Collard greens
- Broccoli sprouts
- Beet greens
- Mustard greens
- Swiss chard
- Bok choy
- Romaine lettuce
Raw Vegetables vs. Cooked Vegetables: Which is Better?
I get asked all the time if it’s better to eat raw or cooked vegetables. The answer may surprise you! While eating raw vegetables provides your body with optimal levels of folate and water-soluble vitamins, the nutrients in cooked vegetables are actually easier to digest and absorb. However, I’m going to let you in on the most delicious and easiest way to enough leafy greens in your diet – Organic Greens!
The Best Way to Get More Leafy Greens
While it’s ideal to get these incredible benefits from real, whole foods, not all of these foods are always available, in season, or grown in optimal soil. It can be difficult to get the benefits of leafy greens from diet alone.
That’s why Organic Greens is a great option to have when you’re just too busy to prepare a big salad or smoothie, or when you’re looking to stay healthy while on the go.
One scoop of Organic Greens is a nutritional powerhouse, containing 14 USDA-certified organic plant foods, including green superstars spinach, kale, alfalfa, moringa, and broccoli sprouts.
It’s perfect for anyone who:
- Is looking to save a lot of time versus juicing their produce every morning
- Needs a tasty, inexpensive alternative to pricey juice bar offerings
- Travels often and wants a doctor-designed source of organic nutrition while eating out
- Wants to mitigate stress and balanced hormone health
Organic Greens is an easy and convenient way to ensure you’re getting all the amazing benefits of leafy greens! I drink a glass every day!
Adding more leafy greens into your diet is a great way to support optimal health, reduce bloating, facilitate a healthy stress response, support bone health, healthy aging, and gut health, and help reduce oxidative damage from free radicals. Leafy greens are the nutritional powerhouse!
Benefits of Leafy Greens FAQs
What are the benefits of dark leafy greens?
What are the benefits of dark leafy greens?
Adding more green leafy vegetables into your diet can support optimal brain health, fight belly bloat, relieve stress, support bone health, healthy aging, boost digestive enzymes, and tame the toxins, among many other health benefits.
What are the best leafy green vegetables?
What are the best leafy green vegetables?
The best leafy vegetables include spinach, kale, collard greens, chard, turnip greens, arugula, and watercress.
How often should I eat leafy greens?
How often should I eat leafy greens?
According to the USDA, the optimal amount of leafy greens is between 3-5 servings per day. That’s a lot! By far, the easiest way to get your optimal daily intake of leafy green vegetables is Organic Greens.
- Nutrients and Bioactives in Green Leafy Vegetables and Cognitive Decline: Prospective Study. Martha Clare Morris. Neurology. 2018.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans. US Department of Health and Human Services. US Department of Agriculture. 2015.
- How Much Potassium Is In Raw Spinach. Erica Wickham. LiveStrong. 2021.
- Association Between Folate Intake and Melancholic Depressive Symptoms. A Finish Population-Based Survey. Jussi Seppala, et al. Science Direct. 2012.
- Magnesium Linked to Better Blood Pressure: Meta-Analysis. Stephen Daniells. Nutra Ingredients. 2012.
- Telomeres, Lifestyle, Cancer, and Aging. Massood A Shammas. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care vol 13. 2011.
- Foods that Fight Inflammation. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020.
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