Cart Smarts: The message is evergreen: ‘Eat your greens’

March 13, 2019

St. Patrick’s Day is this coming weekend, and if you walk into the grocery store, you will see displays of green everywhere. As a dietitian, I am partial to the green that you find in the produce aisle all year long.

How many times did you hear “eat your greens” as a kid? How many times have you heard that as an adult? Well, there is a reason it keeps coming back time and time again: Green foods really are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. These green superfoods are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavor, so they should have a place at everyone’s table.

Brussels sprouts are “mini cabbages” that are high in fiber, rich in vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals (plant chemicals that have protective or disease preventive properties). They get a quarter of their calories from protein. Brussels sprouts are delicious roasted with a few tablespoons of olive oil or try the recipe below!

Green tea has gained popularity with its cancer-fighting antioxidants and role in supporting heart health. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics supports evidence that green tea is associated with lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Enjoy green tea plain or try one of the many flavors available on the market.

Avocados are packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol and may help keep you feeling full longer by including them in your daily diet. They are a good source of vitamins E and C, potassium and lutein.

Kiwi contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps with digestion and feelings of fullness. The small fruit has 150 percent or your daily value of vitamin C and is very high in potassium. Kiwis are a good source of vitamin E and folate. Kiwi fruit has a delicious tangy flavor and is delicious on a salad or with yogurt. It can also be sliced in half and scooped out of its skin with a spoon.

Spinach is rich in vitamins A and K, and is a good source of iron and folate. Spinach provides antioxidants like beta-carotene, which supports heart health, fights cancer, and helps keep your eyes healthy. I like to include raw spinach in a salad or added to an omelet, stir-fry or spaghetti sauce. You can even drink your spinach by tossing a handful of the raw greens into a fruit smoothie. You will not taste the spinach and it will give your smoothie a rich green color!

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K. For starters, “strip” the kale. After washing each stem, use your hands and strip the leaves from the stem. Save the leaves to add to salads, smoothies or various dishes while saving the stem for vegetable stocks and stews.

Broccoli is a good source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate and calcium. Like all cruciferous vegetables, it is also rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Broccoli is very high in fiber, which helps with satiety and supports weight maintenance. Broccoli can be lightly steamed or roasted with olive oil and a dash of salt. You can also make a tasty coleslaw by replacing shredded cabbage with shredded broccoli stalks.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you! Now, go enjoy your corned beef and cabbage, and make sure to eat your greens!