Week #4 It Ain't Easy Being Green!

I read that it was common for our ancient ancestors to eat up to six pounds of leaves per day. Imagined them walking along from one place to another, just picking and eating leaves as they went. Can you imagine eating a grocery bag full of greens each and every day?

Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food.

Although we have only been requiring you to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies (hoping at least 3 of the 5 are veggies) daily you should really be aiming to eat at least five servings of just vegetables daily (that’s about 2 1/2 cups of cooked vegetables). As long as they're prepared in a healthy way, leafy greens, like other nonstarchy vegetables, are a great addition to your diet and offer countless health benefits.

Leafy greens are full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. They are rich in fiber, an important nutrient for weight loss  and maintenance because it keeps you feeling full and helps control your hunger. Fiber can also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and help to temper blood-sugar swings by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream after meals. This lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Leafy greens also contain a lot of water, which helps keep you hydrated and contributes to beautiful skin and hair.
Some leafy greens, like collards and kale, are particularly rich in calcium, which helps keep your teeth and bones strong and reduces your overall risk for osteoporosis. Calcium also contributes to muscle function and blood-pressure management. Leafy greens contain potassium as well, which further protects against osteoporosis and helps manage blood-pressure levels. 

The antioxidants like vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin that are contained in leafy greens may help reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin C helps the body make collagen too; collagen is a major component of cartilage that aids in joint flexibility, may reduce your risk of arthritis, and keeps your skin and hair healthy and beautiful. Research shows vitamin C may also slow bone loss and decrease the risk of fractures.

Leafy greens that contain beta-carotene, such as collard greens, spinach, and Swiss chard, contribute to the growth and repair of the body's tissues. Beta-carotene may also protect your skin against sun damage. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, and food sources of beta-carotene are the best way to get your vitamin A fix, since extremely high doses of vitamin A in supplements can be toxic and lead to bone, liver, and neural disorders as well as birth defects. Food sources of beta-carotene are entirely safe, though, since the body regulates how much beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A.

Leafy greens are also an excellent source of folate, which can reduce your risk of  cardiovascular disease and memory loss. And since folate contributes to the production of serotonin, it may help ward off depression and improve mood.

The vitamin E found in green leafy vegetables works with vitamin C to keep skin healthy as you age. This vitamin also helps protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays and may help reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

YOU GUESSED IT YOUR CHALLENGE FOR WEEK #3 IS TO INCREASE THE USE OF LEAFY GREENS IN YOUR DIET. EAT AT LEAST 2 CUPS PER DAY AND MAKE A GOOD EFFORT TO MIX IT UP. EAT SALAD, PUT GREENS IN YOUR SMOOTHIE, COOK SOME COLLARDS OR CABBAGE. FOR EVERY DAY THAT YOU INCORPORATE 2 CUPS OF LEAFY GREENS IN YOUR DIET YOU CAN CLAIM YOUR 5 BONUS POINTS.


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