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Let's Talk Greens! Nourishment for Body & Mind

One thing we constantly hear in the realm of nutrition are the benefits of eating our greens. No doubt greens offer an array of health benefits. From leafy greens to superfood powders like spirulina and matcha, these green compounds are packed with nutrients, crucial for restoring a healthy balance by providing a diverse array of nutrition as well as aiding in the elimination of unwanted and pro-inflammatory compounds. Below, we explore the myriad ways in which green foods can support and nourish our bodies.

Green Leafy Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables stand as pillars of nutrition, providing a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants crucial for heart health. Here's why they should feature prominently in your diet:

  • Nutrient Density: Laden with vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, and folates, green leafy veggies offer a nutritional powerhouse that supports optimal heart function.

  • Reduced Cardiovascular Risk: Regular consumption of these vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke, thanks to their rich nutrient profile.

  • Polyphenol Richness: Green leafy diets are high in polyphenols, potent antioxidants that help reduce cardiometabolic risk factors and protect against oxidative stress. These polyphenols also feed the gut microbiome, promoting the restoration of healthy gut bacteria.

Cruciferous Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, bring a unique set of benefits to the table when it comes to cardiovascular health:

  • Cardiovascular Defense: Studies suggest that cruciferous vegetable intake may lower cardiovascular mortality and subclinical atherosclerosis, owing to their abundance of phytochemicals.

  • Sulforaphane Power: The presence of sulforaphane in cruciferous veggies offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, along with potential benefits in preventing blood clot formation and reducing the risk of cardiovascular events.

Superfood Powders: Incorporating superfood powders like spirulina, chlorella, and matcha into your diet can provide an additional boost to cardiovascular wellness:

  • Nutrient Concentration: Green powders offer a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, delivering comprehensive support for heart health.

  • Anti-inflammatory Action: Spirulina and chlorella boast potent anti-inflammatory properties, which can help mitigate chronic inflammation, a key contributor to cardiovascular diseases.

  • Cholesterol Control: Chlorella has been shown to aid in lowering LDL cholesterol levels, contributing to improved lipid profiles and a reduced risk of heart disease.

While we focus a lot on cardiovascular health and greens, more and more research shows us how beneficial greens are for cognitive health as well. This is especially true in terms of combatting age-related cognitive decline.

While the benefits of green foods are undeniable, incorporating them into your diet can sometimes pose challenges.

The first challenge I often see is simply taste preferences. Let's face it - green foods don't always top the list of everyone's favorite flavors. Some people find the taste of certain leafy greens or cruciferous vegetables bitter or unappealing.

One thing I like to remind people of is that as we introduce bitter tastes to our diet, not only will our taste buds eventually adapt, but the bitter flavors of certain foods stimulate digestion (specifically, bile production), allowing your body to absorb and take in the optimal amount of nutrition from it's food. Greens like kale, arugula, and dandelion greens do this. This is a big reason that eating slowly and chewing your food is so great for digestion and assimilation. Hopefully this gives you enough of a reframe to approach your green meals with a nourishing frame of mind, rather than a feeling of boredom and dissatisfaction when you're eating a salad.

If you find that the bitter flavor of raw greens is intolerable, cooking them down removes some of that bitter/grassy flavor. I also find that finely chopping my greens and throwing them in my eggs, with shredded chicken, rice... anything really, makes it hardly noticeable. I also add a handful of power greens (shoutout to Costco, Power Greens!) in my smoothies. I started with small amounts and increased over time. As my tastes have adapted, I've been able to add more and more greens.

The second challenge I come across with patients a lot is convenience. The amount of people I talk to that get frustrated by the greens they've thrown out is REAL. There's nothing worse than going to make a salad and finding your greens are slimy and gross.

A couple of things:

  • You can cook these greens still and they will taste fine

  • If you notice a box/bag of greens starting to get funky, throw them in the freezer to cook later or throw in a smoothie

  • Meal plan. Organizing your foods ahead of time drastically reduces waste. I know you know this!

The other reality is that some people just do not have access or funds to purchase high quality greens. This is your reminder that nonorganic greens offer a lot of benefits too! Sometimes purchasing greens already frozen is a cheaper and more accessible option as well.

If time is your enemy, this is where leaning on green powders really shines (although green powders will always be an amazing addition to any plan). They often contain powders rich in spirulina or matcha as we mentioned above. Some other great green compounds are chlorella and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the compound that makes a lot of our green veggies, GREEN but you can you purchase it in powder form. Adding a greens powder to your regime is a wonderful way to boost your nutrition.

Many of my patients like AG1 and a few of us at HartsSpace also like Green Vibrance. I have also tried Organifi's Green Powders. The Green Apple flavor is actually very yummy.

Finally, some individuals simply struggle to digest greens, especially in raw form. Blending them in a smoothie, cooking them, or incorporating a powder are all great ways to get in your greens that may be more gentle on your digestive system. Incorporating a fat with your greens also improves our ability to absorb their nutritious compounds, so don't feel bad about using oil or butter to cook your greens. Let's not get stuck in the trap of thinking that greens have to only come in a boring salad. And even if you can't tolerate raw greens at one point, it's typically a sign of underlying gut issues that need to be addressed..

Conclusion: As we navigate the realm of healthy eating, let's not overlook the treasures that green foods offer us. Whether you're indulging in a crisp salad brimming with leafy greens or incorporating superfood powders into your smoothie repertoire, every green bite or sip brings us closer to improved health. It is also a great way to offset some of our more indulgent foods. Hopefully this gives you the WHY behind the recommendations of incorporating greens into your day to day diet.

How do you incorporate greens in your diet? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 comentario

Dawn Smart
Dawn Smart
15 mar

I incorporate greens in my smoothies and I put them in my skillets.

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