Switch up your ordinary salad with these good-for-you greens.
By Taylor Lupo
In recent years, kale has become increasingly popular, and not without good reason. Kale is abundant in vitamins A, C and K, making it good for vision, immune function and healthy blood clotting. Kale also contains fiber for healthy digestion and iron, which carries oxygen throughout the body, but it’s not the only leafy green with many nutritional benefits.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming between three and five servings of veggies per day, but eating the same old greens gets old. Switch up your salads with other nutrient-dense and delicious greens, like spinach and chard.
One serving of raw spinach, about one cup, clocks in at just seven calories, but packs a serious nutritional punch. Spinach, like kale, contains a great deal of vitamins A (56 percent daily value), C (14 percent daily value) and K (181 percent daily value). A cup of spinach also contains 15 percent of the daily recommended value of folate, a B vitamin involved in converting carbohydrates in your body into energy, and iron, a key component in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), your body’s energy source. Blend into a smoothie, toss in a salad or fold into an omelet for a nutrient-rich energy boost.
Looking to broaden your green horizons after one too many kale salads? Give kale’s cousin a try! Swiss chard contains immune-boosting A, B and E vitamins, and three blood pressure-lowering minerals—calcium, magnesium and potassium. One cup of raw chard contains 2 percent of the daily value of calcium, 7 percent of the recommended value of magnesium and 4 percent daily value of potassium.
Let’s not forget about versatility—chard blends deliciously into a fresh-pressed juice, scrambled into eggs or sautéed and seasoned with some black pepper.
Chinese cabbage is a nutrient powerhouse, loaded with vitamins A, C and K, calcium, fiber and folate. In fact, bok choy contains more calcium than the same size serving of kale. Fiber promotes healthy digestion, calcium is good for bone health and studies suggest it helps lower blood pressure and folate works to convert carbs to energy.
Add some chopped bok choy to your favorite healthy stir-fry recipe for a quick, easy and nutritious dinner option.
The leafy tops of the watercress plant add a floral aroma and a peppery taste to an otherwise bland dish. Watercress is packed with vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin K (106 percent of the daily recommended value per cup). Vitamin K is important for the health of your blood—it helps keep blood vessels from hardening, strengthens bones and promotes blood clotting.
Try adding watercress to soups, salads or sandwiches for a boost of flavor and vitamin K.
Ruby red beets are topped with nutrient-dense leaves that are often disregarded. One cup of chopped, cooked beet greens contains 17 percent of the fiber your body needs daily, 220 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin A—good for immune function—and 870 percent of your daily value of vitamin K, which promotes clotting factors in your blood.
Beet greens make an excellent addition to your salad, green juice or sautéed as a side.
Broccoli rabe is abundant with nutrients, like fiber for digestion; vitamin K for proper blood clotting; and manganese, necessary for bone, brain and nerve function. A three-ounce serving of cooked broccoli rabe boasts 10 percent of the daily recommended value of fiber, more than 270 percent of vitamin K and 16 percent manganese. Per half cup serving, raw broccoli rabe is made of 93 percent water—a great way to get some extra hydration throughout the day.
Grill, roast or sauté these leafy stalks with seasonings like garlic and black pepper for a crunchy, flavorful and nutrient-packed side.
Chicory is known for its blue flowers, but the leaves are the real piece de resistance. Toss a cup of the tender leaves in your next salad for a boost of vitamins C (12 percent DV), A (33 percent DV) and K (108 percent DV). These vitamins promote proper blood clotting, vision and immune function.
To eat healthy, pick foods that are the colors of the rainbow, and watch your portion sizes. Eating foods that are colorful-red apples, orange carrots, yellow squash, green salad, tomatoes, blueberries and purple eggplant-helps yo...u add fruits and vegetables to your diet. More