We’ve all been there: It’s a weekday evening, the sky is dim, the wind is howling, and you don’t feel like pulling on your pants and hoofing it to the grocery store to supplement the meager meal options in your fridge. Hold on! Have you checked your lettuce crisper? There’s a good chance you’ve got a complete, wholesome and tasty meal of leafy greens waiting for you. There are a million good reasons—and easy ways—to get those greens out of the drawer and into your body.
Pound for pound, it’s hard to beat leafy green vegetables for nutritional value. Generally speaking, darker greens, such as spinach and collard, tend to pack more punch than their paler cousins, like iceberg lettuce. Dark leafy greens have minerals, including potassium and magnesium, and carotenoids, disease-protecting plant compounds that also help give you glowing skin.
Dark leafy greens are also a rich source of vitamins K, C, E and most of the Bs. Kale and mustard greens are among the best sources of Vitamin K, which assists in blood clotting, bone health and preventing diabetes. Leafy greens are low in calories and high in fiber and water content, making them a great choice for adding volume to your plate. (More food = more satisfying!)
They often get lumped into one category, but when you go deeper into the leafy green galaxy you discover a vivid variety of textures and flavors, which makes them a great complement to virtually any meal. Spinach, a powerhouse of a leaf, has a sort of mineral-y flavor. Arugula, popular on pizza and in salads, is appreciated for its bitter and peppery notes. Bok choy, a solid source of calcium and antioxidants, is mild and slightly sweet, an ideal addition to a stir-fry.
A study by Cornell University found that children respond well when their plates are full of colors. Leafy green vegetables come in a surprising variety of shades and shapes. There’s the emerald tones of turnip greens and romaine, the rainbow of stalks on the chard family, the rich redness of radicchio and red lettuce, and everything in between. Whether you’re a kid or fully grown, leafy greens provide a fun palette to color a meal’s presentation.
Just toss and go
Perhaps the best thing about leafy greens is how easy they are to prepare and put on the table. Looking for a quick bite? Just rinse, shake and pile, with a dribble of olive oil, splash of balsamic vinegar and a grind of black pepper. They’re also great stirred into your soup for a pleasant crunch, mixed among your pasta, slipped onto a sandwich, or sunk in a smoothie. Whatever your approach, leafy green vegetables offer an endless array of options for healthy, tasty eating.
What are your favorite leafy greens? Let us know in the comments section.
Did you enjoy this post? Stay in the know with more nutrition tips, and exclusive promo offers — join our newsletter.