Green greatness

The benefits of eating green foods

Green foods are one of nature’s healthiest resources and, for most of us, they are readily available. When it comes to dietary choices, there can be a certain reluctance towards this colour.

For years, ‘eat your greens’ has been a well-known phrase that mothers say to their children. Why is this though? If we look at the animal kingdom, they instinctively seem to know what is good for their health, and tree-grazing mammals have no problem at all tucking in to their greens. Perhaps it’s because as a society, we have become accustomed to artificial flavours and sugars that encourage us to develop a sweet-tooth and crave more of what’s bad for us? Greens are exceptionally good for our health though and should be eaten in abundance to keep us in top condition.

Can green foods keep your brain from ageing?

A study by the American Academy of Neurology has shown that eating green foods rich in vitamin K, such as spinach, kale, asparagus and brussels sprouts, appears to slow cognitive decline as people age. (1) The study didn’t look at those with existing memory impairment, but while referencing the study, Dr James Pickett, Head of Research for the Alzheimer’s Society, confirmed that older people who consume at least one serving of vitamin K daily, performed better on memory tests than those who didn’t. (2)

Can green foods keep your heart healthy?

Brain health may not be the only benefit associated with eating green foods though. According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (3), green leafy vegetables were found to be the most strongly associated with a decreased risk of heart problems out of all the fruits and vegetables tested. It’s a great reason to stock up on things like lettuce, spinach and chard.

Can green foods boost your overall immunity?

All fruits and vegetables are known for their health benefits but some greens in particular might be leaders when it comes to boosting your overall immunity. Spinach and kiwi fruit are rich in Vitamin C and packed full of natural antioxidants which may help our bodies fight infection. Whilst it’s not strictly a food, green tea contains high levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which has been shown to enhance immune function. (4)

How to consume more greens

It’s evident that green foods come with a large number of health benefits, but if you’re not the biggest fan of them then there are ways to ‘sneak’ them into your diet. Try using large lettuce leaves as wraps for sandwich fillings, rather than bread. Throw a few handfuls of green fruits and vegetables into a smoothie or mix chopped spinach or steamed kale into a Bolognese sauce and you’ll barely taste it! Whether you relish the taste of them, or need ways to hide it, there are always options to get more healthy greens into your diet.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29263222
  2. http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-study-looking-at-eating-green-leafy-vegetables-and-rate-of-decline-of-memory-and-thinking-skills/
  3. https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/96/21/1577/2521033
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28864169