We all know greens are good for us, yet most of us aren't eating enough of them. While this can be frustrating to my fellow nutritionists out there, I can understand why. Why would you choose a green salad over a burger at lunch with your friends? I mean, there's lettuce between the buns, so that's good enough? Right?
If that sounds familiar, you're not alone. Often, it comes down to convenience, price and taste. But, there's something else that should be motivating you: your health.
Besides greens being full of vitamins and minerals, they can also help regulate our bowel movements (which gets a big tick from us here at Supercharged Food HQ). While you don't need to choose the green salad over the burger every time, the more you do, the better your health outcomes will be.
If you need some more convincing, here are six of my favourite benefits of greens:
- They love your liver
Our liver's primary role is to metabolise the nutrients we eat, cleanse the blood and convert toxins into waste. While the liver naturally cleanses itself (even though ads for skinny teas may tell you otherwise), it may not be able to do its job adequately if it's constantly trying to detoxify alcohol, sugar, medication and external toxins.
This can cause us to feel sluggish, tired and can even contribute to weight gain. But, don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom. Cruciferous vegetables, such as rocket, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, can help support stage two liver detoxification and reduce oxidative stress to assist liver clearance.
- Improved cognitive ability
Forget words with friends or sudoku (although they can be good too); if you want to keep your brain thriving as you age, leafy greens may be the answer.
According to a 2018 research study, one serving of leafy green vegetables a day may help slow down age-related cognitive decline.1 Getting even one serving of greens in can increase mental agility and support cognition.
- Boost your energy
If you're tired of feeling tired, greens may be the answer. Dark leafy green vegetables are rich in vitamin B, which help convert the foods we eat into energy. They're also rich in iron, calcium and vitamins A, C, K and E so they cover a lot of nutritional bases.
- Hello, glowing skin
While there are plenty of antioxidants out there, carotenoids are one of my favourites. I know what you're probably thinking?, – why would these be relevant? Well, carotenoids are antioxidant-rich and help neutralise free radicals to create glowing skin.
One of the most popular carotenoids is beta-carotene. Kale is one of the top sources of beta-carotene, which is sure to leaf your skin glowing. 😉
- Support your immune system
Our nose, mouth, ears and small intestines all make up part of the body's first line of defence against infection. What do all of these body parts have in common? They all secrete mucus (I know, sounds gross, but hear me out). Mucus helps help clear bacteria and pathogens from the body. If these mucus membranes are disrupted, pathogens can enter the body and cause colds and flu.
Luckily, green vegetables, such as spinach, dandelion greens and broccoli, can help repair these mucus membranes so you can help your immune system do its job.
- They shower your gut with love
Raise your hand if you've ever struggled with a leaky gut or food sensitivities? Me too! If your hand's raised, you'll likely benefit from increasing your green vegetable intake.
Green veggies can inhibit pathogenic bacteria and support the growth of good bacteria. Plus, the fibre within green veggies can assist digestion and absorption.
Fulvic Humic Concentrate is another natural way to promote good gut health and support you eating more greens, as it goes beyond probiotic supplementation, by supporting the integrity of the gut lining and strengthening its tight junctions, (it's great for IBS and leaky gut) whilst replenishing microbiota, nutrients and enzymes. This super nutrient food aids the absorption of important nutrients, decreases acidity and enhances your cells use of antioxidants and electrolytes.
Sounds great, but how can you actually eat more greens?
- Green Powders and Gut Supportive Ingredients
You may have heard of "superfood" green powders that include wacky-sounding ingredients such as chlorella and spirulina, but what you may not know is that these foods can act as powerful probiotics.
Spirulina is comprised of more than 70 per cent protein, as well as vitamin E, chlorophyll and fatty acids. Chlorella is a green microalga filled with chlorophyll, protein and carotenoids. Chlorophyll, found in both spirulina and chlorella, is a powerful probiotic in the gut. You can mix these powders into a glass of water or add them to green smoothies.
The best way to have them is with my Love Your Gut powder or Love Your Gut Capsules which not only keep the gut cleaned and toned but also they'll allow the body to absorb more of the good stuff that you're eating or drinking.
Making homemade vegetable soup doesn’t need to be tricky and can quickly become a crowd favourite, especially when it tastes as good as My Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Ham Soup pictured above. This soup is so delicious and easy to throw together. It’s also great to freeze, for use as a quick midweek work meal. You can add any amount of greens to it too.
Look at this greened up pesto!
Okay, seriously, who doesn’t love pesto? The best part about pesto (besides the fact it rhymes with presto, and it too is a bit like magic) is that you can make it with literally any dark green vegetable and herb you have.
I’ll add kale, basil or mint into my blender with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and presto – you have pesto! If you’re looking for inspiration, here’s my Basil Pesto recipe.
If you want to trick increase your loved one’s intake of vegetables, smoothies are my go-to. I add a handful of spinach, kale or celery (or, sometimes, all three) to my smoothie to boost my nutrient intake.
My favourite gut-friendly green smoothie is this Microalgae green smoothie. I would consider this a mid-level green smoothie, packing a green punch with spinach, cucumber and celery. Don't worry; it's still sweet and creamy with the help of frozen banana and blueberries.
Give it a whirl and let me know what you think about it in the comments section below.
MICROALGAE GREEN SMOOTHIE
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- Handful spinach
- 1/2 cucumber
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 tbs Love Your Gut powder
- 1 Scoop of greens powder of choice
- fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
Blend in a high-speed blender until smooth.
1Morris, M. C., Wang, Y., Barnes, L. L., Bennett, D. A., Dawson-Hughes, B., & Booth, S. L. (2018). Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study. Neurology, 90(3), e214–e222. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815