The Importance of Leafy Greens in Our Diet

By Jordan & Kyla Miller

Contributing Writers for Wake Up World

If we had one wish, it would be that everyone consumed at least one whole head of organic lettuce (or equivalent) everyday. You see, contrary to popular ‘mainstream’ belief, lettuce (and its relatives) are quite nutritious. Most of us are told, at a rather young age, that lettuce and its counterparts are characteristically comprised of mostly water, and as a result, are devoid of any nutrients. When presented with this information from the mainstream media outlets, most of us will and have accepted it as truth without any further need to question it because of our strong belief that the media knows most everything, and therefore, we should believe everything it is saying.

Nutrient ‘Powerhouse’

This logic is rather uncharacteristic of our very essence and it truly does not reflect the way in which we are supposed to reason – always ask why. Of course, when looking at a food source form a macro nutrient standpoint (carb, protein, fat) it’s hard to find any real sustenance in leafy greens as we would have to eat plenty of it to satisfy our macro nutrient needs; however, when we take a closer look at greens, from micro nutrient level (vitamins, minerals, phytonutirents), we can see an array of beneficial nutrients. Greens are such a powerful food, that we have considered them in our list of superfoods.

Greens have an abundance of vitamins and minerals within them. One of the primary minerals present in greens is magnesium. Magnesium has an array of important functions in the body. Some of the benefits include:

– Assists in the assimilation of calcium and potassium in the body,

– Ability to calm the nerves; suppressing anxiety,

– Primary ingredient for heart health,

– Helps control cortisol levels (stress hormone),

– Improve insulin’s response to dietary sugar,

– Many other benefits.

Vitamin K

Most of us have probably never heard of this rather important nutrient. Essentially, “Vitamin K” is a group of structurally similar, fat soluble vitamins that are needed for the post-translational modification of certain proteins, mostly required for blood coagulation but also involved in metabolic pathways in bone and other tissue.” (Wikepedia).

When children are born within a hospital environment, they are administered (without the full knowledge of the parent) a vitamin K injection. Even in these environments (hospitals), they recognize the importance of vitamin K, however, we do not recommend that your intake of this essential vitamin be replaced with an injection. We do however encourage everyone to eat plenty of leafy greens as they are loaded with vitamin k1.

In essence, vitamin K plays an important role in a child’s bone development. Most people in the “Western World” are prescribing braces for their children’s teeth at increasingly younger age, usually for reasons solely attributed to vanity, however, if parents only knew that vitamin k1 played an important role in jaw development, children would be far better off and these “teeth shackles” would not be needed. There is a rather simple solution to this – feed your children more leafy greens! Other sources of vitamin K (K2) are also beneficial to bone health and maintaining a strong immune system. Such nutrients are found in fermented foods like miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, etc. The benefits of vitamin K include:

– Regulates blood clotting

– Helps protect bones from osteoporosis

– May help prevent and possibly even reduce atherosclerosis by reducing calcium in arterial plaques

– May be a key regulator of inflammation, and may help protect us from inflammatory diseases including arthritis

– May help prevent diabetes

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin it its best to have greens in salads with olive oil, as this will assist its absorption into the blood.

Other Nutrients

Apart from magnesium and vitamin K, greens are also loaded with other beneficial ingredients. They include:

-Iron

-Calcium

-Potassium

-Vitamin C

-Vitamin E

-Many B vitamins

-Beta-carotene

-Lutein

-Zeaxanthin (protects the cells from damage and eyes from macular degeneration)

-Small amounts of Omega-3 fats

How to Get More Greens in your Diet

Obviously, a salad is the best way to incorporate more leafy greens in the diet; however, it’s not very practical for many to eat salad morning, noon, and night. We suggest that you use your creativity and experiment with them. We have found the best way to get more greens into our diet was to start making green smoothies. By doing this, you can still get plenty of greens; however, you can experiment with flavors and recipes as greens go with almost anything! We have included a video below on how to make a spinach, banana, mint, cayenne pepper green smoothie (one of our favs!):

What you need:

-blender
-sprout bag (optional for straining)
-bowl
-glasses to serve

Ingredients:

– 1 ½ cups of almond milk
– 1 banana
– 3-4 big handfuls of spinach
– 4-5 leaves of mint (or desired taste)
– a pinch or two of cayenne pepper

*Add all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. Strain excess (optional), pour into glasses and serve (yields two servings).

Feel free to check out all our other recipes

Article Sources

1. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_K

2. Prescription for Nutrional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch

3. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies; C. Norman Shealy

About the Authors

Jordan & Kyla are passionate about health; together, they have overcome many illnesses through dietary and lifestyle changes, and the art of practicing a positive mindset daily. Kyla is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Reiki Master, and Jordan is currently learning about traditional North American medicinal herbs, in hopes of becoming a Certified Herbalist. For more information, please visit the following sites; guidinginstincts.com, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest

 


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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Wake Up World or its staff.

  • Nunkistar)-

    Don’t forget the influence of photon energy on our bodies. The sunlight gives us photon energy. Plants collect it. The green leaves are full of it.

  • Not to mention chlorophyll which is great for cleaning nasty stuff from our systems. We grow massive amounts of greens, Kale, collards, lettuce etc. We cook em, eat em raw and juice them every morning. Then we let it go to seed. Every Winter we have gallons of seed we saved (packed in diatomaceous earth to kill off the critters that would eat em). Then in the Winter when we can’t grow the greens very well, we sprout the seeds. Organic Greens all year long….very cheaply.
    And never eat greens that are not organic….