We’ve all been told that we should eat our vegetables, especially green ones. In fact, it may be something that we’re telling our kids on a daily basis. “Spinach is good for you! It will make you big and strong!” you might hear yourself saying. But really, what is it about greens that make them so great? Take a look at 8 awesome vitamins & minerals from leafy greens with a reputation of being nutrition powerhouses!
Not only do they contain lots of fibre, but they are also packed with vitamins and minerals that keep our bodies functioning optimally. They’re also versatile and can be prepared in many ways. Smoothies, juices, fresh salads, steamed, roasted and pureed into sauces. In general, greens that are the darkest in colour are the most nutrient-dense. Let’s take a look at what those are!
Leafy greens are a great source of beta-carotene, which is the precursor for vitamin A, meaning that our bodies take beta-carotene and are able to convert it into vitamin A. Beta-carotene is also an antioxidant, that helps to protect us from more harmful cells. Vitamin A supports healthy tissue function and eyesight and also healthy hair, skin, nail and bone growth!
Here we were thinking we could only get this from oranges, but leafy greens are also an excellent source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning that our bodies cannot produce it on their own and we must obtain it from our diets. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, aids in collagen formation, metabolizes proteins, helps with hormone synthesis, muscle, and body tissue integrity, and also helps us to absorb iron, especially iron from plant-sources, like greens!
Also known as alpha-tocopherol, is nearly twice as effective as synthetic forms of Vitamin E, so it’s great when we can get it from sources like super-greens in our diet. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant! It aids in the production of both male and female sex hormones, and there is evidence that it helps with the prevention of heart problems.
This particular nutrient plays an important role in blood clotting (the good kind of blood clotting that we need to prevent excessive bleeding, particularly menstrual bleeding), and has also been linked to bone and heart health. Half a cup of kale will give you over 400% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin K.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body. It is essential for bone formation, osteoporosis prevention, nerve transmission, maintaining healthy blood pressure and more. And 1 cup of chopped kale will provide almost 10% of your daily value of calcium.
This mineral is essential in the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin in our blood, oxygenation of our cells, and it contributes to energy production, among many other body functions. Iron is one of those things that we don’t realize everything it does for us until we’re not getting enough. When we aren’t getting, or aren’t absorbing enough iron, we can start to feel fatigued or dizzy, and our skin can become pale, so it’s important that we get it in our diet, from things like super greens.
This mineral is just as important as calcium in our bodies but doesn’t get a lot of hype. It works with calcium in regulating muscle tone, is necessary for heart function, energy production, and muscle relaxation. It has also been noted for having calming effects and helping you sleep at night, talking to you tired mamas! And 100g of spinach contains over 70mg of magnesium.
Who knew you can get potassium from places other than a banana? Yup, leafy green salads will also provide you with potassium and it uses like those in nerve transmission, muscle contractions (such as heartbeats), cell formation, maintaining body fluid/regulating kidney function and is also a natural diuretic.
Try adding leafy greens to a smoothie, chopped in a pasta sauce, or even in cookies (using one of our yummy spinach purees!)