What Are The Healthiest Leafy Greens?

If you use the personal training services of Biofit Performance in Oviedo, FL, or come to the group classes, you know we emphasize both diet and exercise to improve fitness. While all types of fruits and vegetables are important, greens are at the top of the list. Many people fail to get adequate amounts. They consume a salad that contains mostly iceberg lettuce and think they’ve had their greens for the day. While there’s nothing wrong with including iceberg lettuce in your diet, it’s not one of the healthiest leafy greens. With that said, don’t remove it, since it still is a valuable source of nutrients. Just add a few other leafy greens to ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs.

Kale is one of the most popular greens for healthy eating.

Kale is like the new kid on the nutritional block. It’s highly praised and has made its way to salads in higher end restaurants due to that new-found popularity. There’s good reason. Kale is filled with nutrients. Just one cup of raw kale has 684% of your daily value for vitamin K, 134% of the daily value of vitamin C and 206% of the daily value for vitamin A. It’s high in antioxidants, too. While you can eat kale both cooked and raw, it’s more nutrient-dense when consumed raw, since cooking reduces the amount of nutrients available.

Baby greens vs microgreens vs sprouts, what’s the difference?

Microgreens, sprouts and baby greens are all immature plants and all nutrient dense. The nutritional profile depends on the type of plant. However, microgreens are harvested far earlier, at about two weeks and baby greens are harvested at about four weeks. Sprouts are harvested even earlier than that, at about one week. Microgreens are more flavorful and taste more like the mature plant, while baby greens are actually more nutritious. Microgreens and sprouts have 40 times more nutrition than their full-grown brothers and sisters, yet baby greens still outperform them in the nutrient area. Sprouts tend to have the highest nutrient content. All three are good additions to salads, but the baby greens, since they provide more volume, can be the entire salad, not just sprinkled on for flavor.

Collard greens and spinach make the list of top nutrient-dense greens.

Collard greens are considered one of the highest in nutritional value. These loose-leaf greens are a bit bitter, so are traditionally cooked, rather than eaten raw. They’re close relatives to cabbage and kale and one of the best sources for vitamin K in the family of greens. Spinach is another popular vegetable and consuming baby spinach raw has become quite popular. It also has a high nutrient value, particularly when served raw. It contains almost 200% of the daily value for vitamin K, over half the daily value needed for vitamin A and 13% of the daily value for manganese. It also contains folate, which is important for pregnant mothers to prevent the birth defect, spinal bifida.

  • Whether white, green or purple, cabbage is nutritious. It’s in the same family as kale and Brussels sprouts. When you ferment cabbage to make sauerkraut, it boosts the nutrition with the probiotic benefits it contains.
  • While beets are considered a super food, beet greens are also packed with nutrition. They’re filled with antioxidants, vitamin A, K and fiber. You can add them to salads, sauté them or put them in soups.
  • If you’ve ever seen a leafy green with a red, white or yellow vein, it’s probably Swiss chard. It is high in minerals and vitamins A, C and K. It also contains syringic acid, a flavonoid, that may help to control blood sugar levels.
  • Bok choy, sometimes called Chinese cabbage, is a good source of selenium. Selenium is important for cognitive functioning, your immune system, thyroid functioning and may even help prevent cancer.

For more information, contact us today at BioFit Performance

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