An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control reveals that a mere ten percent of Americans eat the recommended number of daily vegetable servings.
You’ve likely heard that you should eat more greens — from your doctor, your spouse, or even your favorite Instagram influencer.
Why do you need green vegetables in your diet, though? What specific benefits do they offer?
Find out everything you need to know below.
Benefits of Eating More Greens
Green vegetables are loaded with nutrients and make any meal or snack healthier. Here are some specific reasons to eat more greens:
Improve Heart Health
Green vegetables like spinach, lettuce, arugula, cabbage, and parsley are all high in nitrates.
Consuming just one cup of nitrate-rich vegetables per day has been linked to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. Nitrate-rich vegetable consumption can also reduce heart failure, stroke, and peripheral artery disease risk.
Greens are low in calories, but many of them are also high in fiber. Fiber promotes feelings of fullness, which can help you avoid overeating and improve your weight loss efforts.
Many people find that adding greens to their meals is an easy way to make them more filling and combat cravings.
Enhance Sexual Health
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens are rich in magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that improves blood circulation and boosts testosterone levels, both of which contribute to better male sexual health.
Regulate Heartbeat and Nerve Signals
Spinach and other leafy greens are excellent sources of potassium.
Potassium is an electrolyte that regulates the heartbeat and controls nerve signals. It also offsets the potentially harmful effects of excess sodium consumption.
Improve Eye Health
When most people think of vegetables that improve eye health, they think of orange vegetables like carrots. However, greens contain nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, which assist with the blue light filtering process and can reduce the risk of retinal damage.
If you’re worried about your bone health, you don’t necessarily need to drink another glass of milk.
You can also support your bones with leafy greens like bok choy, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, kale, and turnip greens. These vegetables are good sources of vitamin K, which improves the bone mineralization process.
Reduce Cancer Risk
Greens contain nutrients called carotenoids, which act as antioxidants. They reduce free radical damage, which can damage DNA and increase one’s risk of developing cancer. Greens also provide fiber, which reduces the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Decrease Diabetes Risk
Because greens help with weight management, they’re beneficial to those who are looking to control their weight and reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. Their blood sugar-balancing benefits likely have to do with their fiber content.
Enhance Liver Health
Increasing your leafy green consumption can also improve liver health.
Vegetables like spinach and arugula contain large amounts of inorganic nitrate. Researchers suspect that inorganic nitrate reduces the risk of fatty liver disease and supports the liver’s detoxifying processes.
Support the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is a critical component of the immune system and circulatory systems. It produces, stores, and transports white blood cells throughout the body.
Greens like kale and spinach contain chlorophyll, which has natural cleansing properties and stimulates the circulation and drainage of lymphatic fluid.
Lower Mortality Risk
Research shows that regularly eating leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and swiss chard has been linked to a longer lifespan. These benefits likely have to do with the fact that leafy greens are rich in antioxidants and have cancer-fighting properties.
The Best Greens to Add to Your Diet
Clearly, you can experience a wide range of health benefits when you start eating more greens. The following are some of the most nutrient-dense green vegetables to add to your diet to enjoy all the benefits listed above:
- Beet greens
- Bok choy
- Swiss chard
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
Don’t forget about small leafy greens like cilantro, mint, sage, parsley, thyme, spearmint, and fenugreek. These herbs add flavor and extra nutrients to any meal.
Tips for Eating More Greens
You’re convinced that you should eat more greens. However, you might also be wondering how to incorporate them into your routine — especially if you don’t particularly like the taste of green vegetables.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to mix them into your meals, including these:
One of the easiest ways to eat more greens is to blend them in your smoothies. Combine them with fruit, yogurt, and some protein powder for a nutrient-packed snack or meal replacement you can enjoy on the go.
You can also eat more greens by adding them to your favorite soups and stews. Green vegetables like spinach and kale complement many different types of soup, as do herbs like cilantro or thyme.
Level up pasta night by stirring leafy greens into your sauce. Whether you’re making a red sauce or a pesto sauce, greens will enhance the flavor, add some extra color, and increase the total nutrient content of your meal.
From omelets to frittatas to scrambles, leafy greens work perfectly in various egg dishes. Adding greens to your egg dishes is an excellent way to make your breakfasts more nutritious and start your days on a healthier note.
If you don’t have time to cook or don’t enjoy cooking, you can still hit your daily greens target.
Greens capsules make it easy for you to consume lots of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients all at once. Just swallow them with water, and you’re all set!
Go Green Easily with Substance
From improving your heart health to lengthening your lifespan, greens can do a lot more than adding color to your meals.
Try Substance if you’re looking for a simple, convenient way to incorporate more greens into your diet.
Substance combines over 20 fruits, vegetables, and greens to ensure you consistently consume the vital nutrients your body needs to function optimally.