Eating Green

By Jordan Rosenfeld

If you’re not up to wearing green this St. Patrick’s Day, try eating green instead. When it’s time to break your fast, do it with some super healthy green foods. These foods are rich in a variety of vitamins and nutrients that can boost your health and taste great going down.

Spinach

This humble green leafy vegetable has great versatility — you can use it raw in salads or cook it in just about anything — soups, stir fries, etc. It also packs an incredible nutritional punch. 100 grams of raw spinach contains 188% of your daily value (DV) for vitamin A, 47% vitamin C, 15% iron, and 10% calcium.

It’s also full of folate (also known as folic acid), which not only helps to prevent birth defects such as neural tube defects, but supports healthy red blood cell production and is essential for your DNA to form properly.

Cabbage

Despite the fact that cabbage may look a bit like lettuce — the ball-shaped veggie, comprised of layers of leaves, is actually a cruciferous vegetable in the Brassica family, which includes broccoli (it also comes in white and purple varieties). This humble, rabbit-friendly veggie lends itself well to stir fries, soups and stews, as well as in fermented dishes like sauerkraut (which contains healthy probiotics, good for the digestive system).

And while not everyone loves its flavor, or its pungent, sulfurous scent when cooking, cabbage is remarkable in its health benefits. A chemical in cabbage called DIM (3,3′-diindolylmethane) has been shown to have protective effects against radiation, such as in chemotherapy. It’s extremely high in vitamins such as vitamin K, offering 85% of the daily value, 54% of vitamin C, and 10% of folate.

The compounds that give it its bitter flavor, called glucosinolates, have been shown in studies to be cancer-protective, particularly against lung and esophageal cancers.

Steam it, sauté it, or pair it with corned beef—you can’t go wrong.

Avocado

This seed-heavy fruit — yes, it’s a fruit! — delivers heart-healthy fats and nutrients in a tasty package. Though avocados do contain fats, it’s the healthy monounsaturated fats, namely oleic acid, which are linked to low incidences of cancer. You won’t find any saturated fat, cholesterol, or sodium in these. What’s more, avocados have more potassium than bananas, an essential electrolyte (important to replenish after fasting), which is linked to healthy blood pressure.

Additionally, in one 100 gram serving of avocado you’ll get important vitamins such as vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, vitamins B5 and B6, and vitamin E.

Whether you eat it on toast, mix it into guacamole, or just consume it clean, your body will thank you for providing it with this delicious food.

Arugula

Of all the salad greens, one that often flies under the radar is the slightly spicy and nutty arugula, also known as “rocket” or “roquette,” a leafy green from the Brassicaceae family.

Like other leafy greens, it’s packed with vitamin A, B9, and K as well as carotenoids and antioxidants, and it’s high in fiber. Arugula also contains dietary nitrates. Research has shown that these might reduce hypertension in some people by increasing blood flow and widening your blood vessels.

Spice up a boring salad, garnish a plate, or toss it on top of pizza for flavorful delight.

Kiwi

This tangy tropical fruit with the green interior and brown skin is about as healthy as a fruit can be. Every part of the fruit is edible—even its fuzzy brown skin, which provides high fiber, and its tiny black seeds. It’s loaded with vitamin C (273% of your daily value!) and antioxidants, good for a healthy immune system, and linked to supporting asthma.

It also contains an enzyme called actinidin that supports digestion. And it’s full of other bioactive substances that may help reduce blood pressure. Even more astonishing, a Norwegian study found that eating several kiwis a day can reduce blood clotting. So eating a fruit salad isn’t just delicious; it’s medicine.

Whichever green foods you choose, whether from this list or the numerous others in existence, your body will thank you.