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Healthy Living: Dark, Green, Leafy Vegetables

Dark, Green, Leafy Vegetables

As part of building a healthy eating pattern, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you choose a good mix of foods by consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within food groups. This is the best way to ensure that your body gets what it needs for optimal health and performance.

Eat Mostly Fruits & Vegetables

Ideally, you should fill your plate with mostly fruits and vegetables for most meals and choose fruits and vegetables as snacks most of the time.

A great goal to strive for is to eat at least 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. (Just remember that fruits are typically higher in calories than vegetables, so if you are trying to keep your calories in check, then aim for 2-3 servings of fruits and 5-6 servings of vegetables per day.)

Health Benefits of Dark, Green Vegetables

Dark, green, leafy vegetables, like kale, collards, mustard and turnip greens, chard, etc., are nutrient powerhouses because they are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and other key phytonutrients. They are also typically low in calories.

Types of Vegetables

There are 5 subcategories of vegetables:

  • Dark, Green Vegetables
  • Starchy Vegetables
  • Red & Orange Vegetables
  • Beans & Peas
  • Other

As you might have guessed, dark, green, leafy vegetables fall under the subcategory of dark, green vegetables!

Studies show that dark, green vegetables not only promote brain health and help you better manage stress, but they also may help protect against diabetes, heart disease, bone fractures and some cancers.

Even with the known health benefits of dark, green vegetables, Americans still aren’t eating enough of them. Adults should eat at least 2 cups of dark, green vegetables per week.

Having trouble eating the recommended weekly amount of dark, green vegetables? Consider these recipe tips:
  • Sauté some finely chopped greens in olive oil and add them to your casseroles, tomato sauces, pasta dishes, stir-fries or soups
  • Top your sandwiches with baby spinach leaves or dark-leafed lettuce
  • Use collard greens or dark-leafed lettuce on your wraps in place of soft tortillas
  • Add spinach to your scrambled eggs or omelets
  • Mix in chopped kale and spinach with typical salads
  • Serve as a dish by sautéing chopped greens in some olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar and garlic; cook until greens reach the tenderness you prefer

Do you eat the recommended weekly amount of dark, green vegetables? If so, which ones are your favorites and why? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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