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Go For the Greens!
March 26, 2019
By: Sarah Matika, MPH, RDN, LDN

“Eat your greens”, a simple motto most of us have heard, which encourages us to incorporate more vegetables into our diet. However, what exactly makes vegetables, particularly green vegetables so great for our health? Well, green vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, & antioxidants that are essential for life and optimal function.

Green vegetables are a great source of vitamin C. Just one cup of broccoli contains 81 milligrams of vitamin C, which contains 135% of our daily value. Vitamin C can be considered the “band aid” of the vitamin world as it has been found to help speed up the healing process of wounds. Vitamin C also helps with the production of collagen and is an effective antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage by free radicals which are toxic byproducts that cause damage to healthy living cells and tissues.

Vitamin A is another beneficial vitamin commonly found in green vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables. Consuming one cup of spinach provides 188% of our daily value of this vitamin. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it needs fat to be present in order to dissolve and be absorbed into the body. Like vitamin C, vitamin A also acts as a powerful antioxidant, but also supports eye health, promotes clear and healthy skin, boosts immunity and helps with appropriate cell growth.

Not only do green vegetables contain valuable vitamins, but they also contain many minerals that are beneficial for health. Iron and calcium are two minerals that are commonly found in green vegetables. Edamame, asparagus, snap peas and peas are all great sources of iron. Iron is necessary to help carry oxygen throughout the body. Inadequate iron intake can lead to anemia which causes fatigue and loss of energy. Calcium is also readily available in green vegetables. Calcium is most notably known for building strong bones but it is also necessary for muscle contraction and blood clotting. Note: Calcium cannot be easily absorbed without the presence of vitamin D.

The vast variety of green vegetables available makes it very easy to incorporate these foods into our diet. Green vegetables are low in calories, which allow you to eat more of these foods without worrying about weight gain. In addition they are a great source of fiber which can help you feel fuller longer and promote regular bowel movements. So “Go for the Green” and eat green vegetables every day!