It is universally acknowledged that leafy greens are among the most nutrient-dense and healthy foods on our tables. Rich in vitamins (such as vitamin A, C, and K) and minerals (such as calcium and iron), low in fat and calories, and high in dietary fiber, leafy greens not only are of great help in weight management, but they also contribute to reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Indeed, their benefits go above and beyond weight management and prevention. Spinach, kale and all other leafy vegetables are also high in antioxidants, such as vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin, which act against molecular degeneration. Plus, their vitamin E and beta-carotene concentration are crucial for a healthy and glowing skin. Moreover, leafy greens are rich in folate, which contributes to serotonin production, thus helping to alleviate depression, as a study published in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1810582/) confirmed.
However, if acknowledging the positive effects of leafy greens is not enough for you to get motivated and eat every day boiled or sautéed spinach as side dish to your main course, well, you must know that you are not alone. Indeed, there are smarter, quicker and tastier ways to increase your leafy greens intake. Here are my top three tips.
Kale chips are the perfect snack to reach for next time you crave a treat. With low amounts of calories, fat and sodium and high amounts of vitamins and minerals, kale chips are both tasty and very healthy. My favorite kale chips are produced from the brand Inspiral and are not only organic, dary-free and gluten-free, but also vegan and paleo.
For breakfast, during your Sunday brunch or as post-training treat, green smoothies are another perfect way to increase your leafy greens intake. My favorite recipe is very easy and includes some apple slices, some mango slices and one of two big handfuls of fresh organic spinach. You may want to add a couple of strawberries or a quarter of a banana to make it sweeter and tastier. Still, remember that a green smoothie should contain around 40% to 50% veggies. Moreover, by keeping these proportions, you will also be able to moderate the fructose content.
Last but not least, big, tasty salads are a great way to include leafy greens in your daily meal plan. And here, I am not talking about the usual (and boring!) lettuce-tomato-cucumber salad that you get at some restaurants as side dish. I am talking about delicious, huge salads, which alone will make up 90% of your meal. My suggestion is to combine a “basis” (like baby spinach, kale, chicory, etc.) with some proteins (chicken, beef, salmon, shrimps, tuna, tofu) with some vegetables or/and fruit, like for instance avocado, mango, or raspberries, or walnuts. This kind of salads are not only healthy and light, but also very nutritious, thus being the perfect lunch for a busy working day.