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Five Healthy Ways to Go Green

greensBy Amber Odom, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian, Cooper Clinic

St. Patrick’s day is right around the corner! While you’re picking out the perfect green outfit, you should also decide what tasty greens you’ll fill your body with this week!

To help you narrow down what greens you should add to your diet, we’ve picked out five fantastic green vegetables:

1.    Kale is a dark, leafy green that is easy to find year-round and supplies a wealth of nutrients, including vitamins A, C and K. It is also an excellent source of fiber, folic acid and potassium. The folic acid is great in your diet if you suffer from poor hair, skin and nails. In addition, the potassium can help promote the breakdown of lactic acid and prevent muscle soreness after a workout. For breakfast, try adding kale into your omelets and enjoy with a hot cup of green tea for added antioxidants. You can add kale into your stir-fry for dinner, in just five minutes it will be al denté (tender outside and slightly firm inside), or even make my family favorite, kale chips for a nutritious snack.

2.    Spinach is loaded with nutrients and packed with antioxidants. It is rich in Vitamins A and C, iron and folate. Spinach is loaded with vitamins and minerals that promote healthy brain function as well as strong bones and muscles. You can try it in your egg white omelets with some added tomatoes for a veggie omelet or add spinach to your fruit smoothie to make a green drink for a quick, healthy breakfast. The next time you have a salad, try it with spinach instead of lettuce. You can even try baby spinach for a lighter taste. Add spinach to soups, pasta dishes and casseroles for added nutrients.  Fresh bags of spinach or frozen chopped spinach are available at the grocery store for convenience.

3.    Broccoli is a fun veggie for kids and adults. One cup contains 100 percent of your daily requirement for Vitamin C and K, and a good amount of Vitamin A. It also contains folate, a vitamin that helps prevent birth defects. It’s a great source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, and even contains bone-building calcium. Broccoli has many health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease and boosting the immune system. You can enjoy raw broccoli in salads or on a veggie tray with some Laughing Cow Light cheese. For dinner, steam it and top with fresh squeezed lemon juice, or add it into stir-fry.

4.    Swiss Chard is another leafy green worth trying. It has red stems, stalks and veins on its leaves and has a beet-like taste and soft texture that is perfect for sautéing. It’s a good source of Vitamins A, C and K. Vitamin K helps promote healthy eye and brain function. Swiss chard also contains the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Another green that contains calcium, it’s a great addition to salads. Try Earthbound Farm Organic Power Greens, it’s a convenient pre-washed and ready-to-eat package mix of baby spinach, baby red and green chard, and baby kale…a great way to pack in several of these top-of-the-list healthy greens. You can even make a sweet-and-sour chard dish by adding raisins and vinegar to the cooked greens (“quick boil” in just three minutes). Go ahead, be creative and give it a try…it’s worth the nutrients!

5.    Collard Greens are similar in nutrition to kale, but have a heartier texture. They are an excellent source of vitamins K, A and C not to mention an exceptional source of the powerful phytonutrient antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. If you want to increase your calcium intake, collard greens are one of the best plant-based sources. You can use as a wrap instead of tortillas or slow cook them with a ham hock or turkey leg for added flavor.  Collard greens are also great steamed with carrots and zucchini and a little garlic for added flavor.

How are you going green for St. Patrick’s Day?

Amber Odom, a registered and licensed dietitian, joined the Cooper Clinic Nutrition Department in 2004 and specializes in preventive and cardiovascular nutrition and weight management. She leads grocery store tours educating attendees on how to navigate the store and select healthier food items and teaches nutrition classes to Cooper teammates as part of the CooperFit wellness program. In 2002, Amber was named “Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year” by the Texas Dietetic Association. She received a Bachelor of Science in food and nutrition from Texas Tech University and completed a combined Bachelor of Science and internship in nutrition at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

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  1. May 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm

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