Although it doesn't take a genius to know that it’s beneficial to your health to eat GREEN coloured foods daily (even various corporations, restaurants, and schools in Hong Kong are supporting eating GREEN on Monday!) yet many people are still not consuming their recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
We have previously looked at the first 3 colours of the rainbow, RED, ORANGE/YELLOW and their associated nutritional and health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the most obvious colour – GREEN this week.
Essentially all greens are nutrient-packed vegetables and worth adding to your daily food plate. Green foods contain chlorophyll - a green pigment found in the leaves of plants which gives the foods their green colour. They are packed with plant-based chemicals called phytonutrients that can help to prevent and improve cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
What do green foods offer?
- Fibre: essential component of a diet, helps maintain bowel health, lowers cholesterol levels
- Lutein, Zeaxanthin: carotenoids that filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and act as antioxidants in the eye - help to protect and maintain healthy eye sight
- Calcium: essential for bone and teeth health
- Folate: helps in cell reproduction and prevents neural tube defects in infants
- Vitamin C: an antioxidant - nutrient that counteracts some of the damaging effects of free radicals, essential for growth and repair of bodily tissues
- Beta-carotene: an antioxidant, and upon conversion to vitamin A in the body, it is beneficial to eye and respiratory system health
All the above nutrients help to reduce cancer risks, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, promote retinal health and vision, fight harmful free radicals, and enhance immunity!
Although all greens are beneficial to your health to some degree, their nutritional value varies. To get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck, opt for the following greens:
- Asparagus : this spring veggie is high in folate and is an excellent source of fibre, iron, vitamin C and beta-carotene. It also contains asparagine, a plant compound that has a diuretic effect which causes that funky odor in urine after you eat asparagus!
- Avocados : this superfood is packed with monounsaturated fat (healthy fat). It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, potassium and lutein.
- Broccoli : this veggie is a member of the cruciferous veggie family; other family members include: cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collard greens and brussels sprouts. Veggies from this family not only contain phytonutrients called glucosinolates, that have been associated with lower risk of certain types of cancer, but are also rich in vitmains A and C, folate, and fibre.
- Brussels Sprouts : also an important family member of the cruciferous veggie family, this veggie is a good source of vitamins A and C and iron.
- Kale : this superfood is packed with vitamins A and C along with folate, iron and calcium. This green gem is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is also high in fibre, potassium and vitamin E and phytochemicals such as lutein.
- Kiwi : this green gem is mega-rich in vitamin C. It is also high in fibre, potassium and vitamin E and phytochemicals such as lutein.
Note that iron in plants called non-heme iron, is not as readily absorbed by the body as that from animal sources (eg. beef), therefore, you may need to consume more servings of iron-rich vegetables to obtain the equal amount of iron from that of animal sources.