No matter what diet or food lifestyle you follow, whether you’re vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, or just eat the plain American-style diet, leafy greens should be an essential part of that diet. The health benefits are just too amazing for anyone to pass up. One of these benefits even includes cancer prevention – probably the most feared disease that we can develop in our lifetimes. Consistently eating leafy greens will help you to keep cancer away – it’s so easy!
Leafy Greens Contribute to Longevity
The list of benefits from leafy greens goes on and on but we will cover just the basics here. Leafy greens are vegetables, such as mixed greens, romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, etc. Here is what they can do for you when eaten on a consistent basis:
As stated previously, leafy greens hold one of the keys to preventing cancer from developing. This is because leafy greens are full of carotenoids, antioxidants and flavonoids. All three of these biochemicals make for a potent anti-cancer cocktail. Carotenoids are the biochemicals that produce pigment in vegetables and fruits, such as the orange in carrots, green in leafy greens, and yellow in yellow bell peppers. They act as antioxidants in humans.
Flavonoids are other biochemicals that are found in various fruits and vegetables and they also act as antioxidants. Antioxidants are biochemicals that prevent or slow down any damage to cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are produced by the body during various chemical processes and we need antioxidants to keep them under control. The more antioxidants we have, the less chance of developing cellular or DNA damage, which ultimately leads to cancer.
Since most leafy greens are low in calories, you can eat as much as you want to without having to worry about putting on extra weight. Leafy green vegetables can be bulky in shape and fill up your stomach pretty quickly, making you feel full but with fewer calories than if you were full from eating macaroni and cheese. Pair your leafy greens with a few healthy fats in order to stay fuller, longer, such as low-fat dressing, cheese topping, or avocado.
Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Leafy greens are low in fat which means they won’t clog your arteries. They are also high in fiber, leading to an efficient and healthy digestive system with minimal constipation. Greens are also full of folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. All of these nutrients contribute to a healthy heart. One extra serving per day can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11%.
Type 2 Diabetes
With high levels of magnesium and a low glycemic index, leafy greens are an ideal food item for preventing and treating diabetes. If you increase your consumption of greens by one serving a day, your risk of diabetes is lowered by 9%. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that is on the rise in America and it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. If you have a family history of diabetes, consider adding more greens to your diet in order to prevent diabetes from developing.
As you now know, leafy greens contain a lot of healthy nutrients and phytochemicals. These nutrients include magnesium, vitamins K and B, and calcium, among others. All of these nutrients are vital for every cell function and if you are eating enough of each, your mortality risk can be significantly lowered. The aging process could also be slowed, leaving you at less risk of experiencing premature aging and your skin will look more youthful.
The carotenoids discussed previously, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, concentrate in the macular region of the retina and lenses of the eye. If your diet consists of lots of leafy greens, you will be at less risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Children may have less of a need for eyeglasses when young.
The Best Leafy Greens to Consume
Here is a list of leafy greens that you can start with! Get shopping!
- Lettuce (green leaf, red leaf, and romaine)
- Swiss Chard
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Herbs (cilantro, mint, parsley, spearmint, fenugreek, thyme, and sage)
The next time you go grocery shopping, be sure to pick up a few of these leafy green vegetables to add to your diet. Look up easy recipes to start incorporating them into your diet without any trouble. Enjoy!
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