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Leafy greens make excellent choices

By Angie Monk, Wood County Extension Agent
Posted 4/15/21

When it comes to nutrition, leafy greens are excellent choices – they top the charts in nutrition.

Their benefits include...

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Leafy greens make excellent choices


When it comes to nutrition, leafy greens are excellent choices – they top the charts in nutrition.

Their benefits include:

  • High in Vitamins A, C and K, potassium and fiber with only 5 to 40 calories per cup.
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, collards and cabbages are recognized for their potential roles in cancer prevention.
  • Kale, spinach and turnip greens are high in lutein, a phytochemical that may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
  • Leafy greens are versatile with many flavors and culinary uses. Fresh leafy greens will keep in the refrigerator crisper for three to five days.
  • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming at least 1½ cups of dark green vegetables per week.

Some of the more popular greens and their traits are:

Collards – A hardy vegetable popular in the South, collards are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A and K and calcium.

Mustards – Native to the Himalayan region of India, mustards are one of the more pungent leafy greens with a characteristic spicy flavor. Mustards provide a hefty dose of vitamins A, C and K, calcium and fiber.

Cabbage – The humble green cabbage is a fiber-rich cruciferous vegetable and excellent source of vitamins C and K. Eating cabbage regularly may help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Enjoy cabbage raw in slaw, steamed, stuffed or tossed into soup.

Romaine – One of the five lettuce types, romaine is a good source of folate and vitamin K. It is suggested to tear (don’t cut) leaves to protect the vitamin content. Romaine makes a perfect crunchy and refreshing salad, and is great in a sandwich or wrap.

Kale – Popular in northern Europe and now throughout the U.S., kale is a nutrient-dense cruciferous vegetable. It’s an excellent source of lutein and vitamins A, C and K and a good source of calcium. Choose kale with dark green, small to medium-sized leaves free of any yellowing. Enjoy kale raw, sautéed or added to soup.

Spinach – Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, folate, potassium and fiber. Because of its high water content, cooked spinach is significantly higher in these nutrients.

Arugula – Also known as “rocket,” this salad green is a staple in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. An excellent source of vitamin K,  arugula is enjoyed in salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes.

Escarole – Part of the chicory clan, escarole is a somewhat bitter green. Escarole delivers potassium and vitamins A and C. Though it can be eaten raw, cooking escarole softens its bitterness.

Source: Produce for Better Health Foundation