I write this as there is snow outside my window, but spring is on the way. I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt, plant, nourish, tend, and grow my garden this year. I already have a list of seeds and plans on how to best organize and maximize the space outside. I can practically smell the dirt and see the new green life.
All that green brings more than just beauty. Green vegetables pack a powerful punch when it comes to health. They contain the perfect combination of all three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Wait, did I just say that?
Do vegetables really have protein in them?
Yes, they really do. In fact, 100 calories of spinach have more protein than 100 calories of beef. On top of all three macronutrients, greens also contain a potent variety of micronutrients, including iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc. The micronutrient profiles of greens look even more astounding when we consider the fact that there are still micronutrients we have yet to discover but are already contained in these beautiful packages. Science will do what it can to replicate and synthesize nutrients to fortify and enrich processed foods devoid of vitamins and minerals, but we can never recreate the list that is still unknown.
Here is another kicker, those unknown micronutrients offer benefits and protections that are unknown as well. If you have been around the health sphere for a while, I am sure you know some of the benefits of folate. Folic acid, the synthetic version, is often added to processed foods because a lack of folate has been shown to cause birth defects. So we know one benefit of folate, which has lead to an increase in both folate and synthesized folic acid supplements, but we still know nothing about the potential protections offered from the micronutrients that have no names. We can’t go run to the health food store and grab a supplement for them or expect to get the synthesized version in our processed food diets. We have to get them in their original packaging: fresh whole foods.
Greens have an awesome power to provide our bodies with the building block for life because they are life. The health benefits and disease protection they offer are just part of the package when consumed in their whole, natural form. It is a good thing to remember that fresh, raw greens will have the biggest impact on our health since none of the micronutrients have been heated or destroyed through processing. If you can’t stand the thought of a big garden salad just yet, there are ways to make those greens taste amazing. My favorite tip – add 2 to 3 large handfuls of greens (think dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard…) to a fruit smoothie. Your body will thank you for it.
What is your favorite way to eat greens?