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20 Shades of Green

Photo: http://dawnypoo.blogspot.com/2012/10/tuesday-trend-autumnal-vegetable.html#.VLOCwyvF88w

Whether you are trying to spice things up in the bedroom, “50 shades of grey style”,  or on your plate…variety is key. “Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables(PFV):A Nutrient Density Approach” published by the CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2014/13_0390.htm, classifies and attempts to define PFV’s based on 17 nutrients associated with health (potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins  A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K).
Fifty percent of  the 41 foods that attain “powerhouse” status were green. Even iceberg lettuce made the cut. They are listed here in order of highest nutrient density score based on CDC criteria:

1.    Watercress
2.    Chinese cabbage
3.    Chard
4.    Beet green
5.    Spinach
6.    Chicory
7.    Leaf lettuce
8.    Parsley
9.    Romaine lettuce
10. Collard green
11. Turnip green
12. Mustard green
13. Endive
14. Chive
15. Kale
16. Dandelion green
17. Arugula
18. Broccoli
19. Brussels sprout
20. Kohlrabi
21. Cabbage
22. Iceberg lettuce 
No need to eat the same boring green on a daily basis. Don’t get stuck in a salad rut.  Each shade of green vegetable has different, tastes, textures and nutrients that will add a little eroticism to a monotonous meal plan.
Feed your body 20 shades of green, taste the difference, nourish your body. Get the boring salad out of your meals; bring in satisfaction from taste and necessary nutrients from eating green goodness. Here’s a kick-start list to the top 5 “Powerhouse” greens to get you going.
1. Watercress
In the 19th century watercress was known as “poor man’s bread” because it was free and  ” bunches were often rolled into a cone and eaten as an on-the-go breakfast sandwich, “http://foodfacts.mercola.com/watercress.html#_edn2. Now  there’s a new breakfast idea!
Eating watercress supplies Vitamins A, C and K and beta-carotene. Phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) is another nutrient found in watercress linked to significant anticancer properties. PEITC may starve tumor growth by “turning off “a signal in the body effecting blood and oxygen supply.
Results from a randomized, crossover trial where 1½ cups of fresh watercress was consumed daily for eight weeks showed a 10% reduction in triglyceride levels, a significant blood increase in the antioxidants lutein and beta carotene resulting in a lowered incidence of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Shades of Green Recipe Pick:
Watercress-Buttermilk Soup
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/watercress-buttermilk-soup
Ingredients
1 medium leek
2 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
6 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
1 (5-oz.) package fresh baby spinach
2 (4-oz.) packages watercress (about 16 loosely packed cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Pinch of ground red pepper
2 cups whole buttermilk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Garnishes: buttermilk, watercress sprigs, chopped fresh chives

Preparation

  1. Remove and discard root end and dark green top of leek. Cut in half lengthwise, and rinse under cold running water to remove grit and sand. Thinly slice leek.
  2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add leek, and sauté 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
  3. Add broth; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat, and add spinach and next 4 ingredients, stirring until spinach is wilted.
  4. Puree soup with a blender until smooth; pour into a large bowl. Whisk in buttermilk and lemon juice; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 2. Chinese “Nappa” cabbage or bok choy
Loaded with minerals like calcium (containing almost as much as in a glass of milk), iron and potassium, Chinese cabbage contains manganese an important co-factor helping to boost antioxidant activity (specifically for superoxide dismutase [SOD]) and other cancer fighting enzymes (myrosinase)  and nutrients like indoles. When it comes to cabbage steaming is the best cooking method because microwaving can damage the enzymes and reduce the health benefits. Half of this green’s carbs come from fiber and we know why fiber is important.
Shades of Green Recipe picks:

” 8 Things to do with Napa cabbage” http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/809695/8-things-to-do-with-napa-cabbage

“Slow Cooker Low Carb Cabbage Roll Stew” http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Slow-Cooker-Low-Carb-Cabbage-Roll-Stew-747406?columns=4&position=3%2F64
3. Chard
If they eat it in the Mediterranean, its’ got to be good!  Well it is a powerhouse when it comes to good health. It’s packed with vitamins/minerals. But, more importantly, phytonutrients (lutein and zeaxanthin)  in this green protect your eyes. Anthocyanins and pigments called betalain work to support liver detox via glutathione, prevent inflammation and help slow the aging process, https://experiencelife.com/article/glutathione-the-great-protector/.  Studies show people with higher anthocyanin levels had better blood sugar control and less insulin resistance.
Shades of Green Recipe pick: “Eggs Nested in Sautéed Chard and Mushrooms” http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Eggs-Nested-in-Sauteed-Chard-and-Mushrooms-950089
4. Beet greens
Beet greens are the greens found atop of beets. They can be traced back to ancient Asia and North Africa as far back as 2000 B.C. They are similar in nutritional value to chard but the unique health contribution from beet greens are the B-complex vitamins contributing to metabolism and betaine helping to reduce plaque build-up in arteries and lower homocysteine levels. This shade of green also contains more iron than spinach!  Iron helps transport oxygen in the blood and involved with energy levels.
Shades of Green Recipe pick: “Wilted Beet Greens with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts” http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com/2013/02/wilted-beet-greens-w-goat-cheese-pine-nuts.html
5. Spinach
Spinach may have originated in Persia and then made its way to China, Nepal, Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe. The U.S. is now one of the largest producers of spinach worldwide.
It seems spinach has long been touted for a heaping of health benefits with the comprehensive list of nutrients this green contains. Magnesium may play a part in its ability to help lower blood pressure but there are nutrients like thylakoids that may act as an appetite suppressant that can help with weight loss.
A recent study found women who drank a mixture containing thylakoids before breakfast lost 5.5 pounds more than the placebo group over the course of three months.
Other nutrients in spinach called “glycoglycerolipids” are fat-related molecules in membranes can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and carotenoids called epoxyxanthophylls (neoxanthin and violaxanthin) in spinach that specifically help protect against prostate cancer.
Shades of Green Recipe pick: “Easy Spinach Casserole” http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/vegetabledishes/r/spinachcaserole.htm
On  a personal note, one of my favorite shades of green is Kale. I love kale chips, so I am sharing this “extra” shade of green recipe with you, http://ohsheglows.com/2014/03/12/6-tips-for-flawless-kale-chips-all-dressed-kale-chips-recipe/.
So you see not all shades of green are created equal. Certainly you can minimize the fizzle and quick start the sizzle by adding 20 shades of green to your diet.

About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.

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