Which color is missing most from the standard American diet?! Green!
Why do we care?!Well, according to the National Cancer Institute cruciferous vegetables, which include arugula, kale, collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts “are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source.” These delicious green vegetables once cooked and/or digested produce biologically active compounds such as indoles and isothiocyanates that “have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach.” How do these compounds help prevent cancer? Well, laboratory studies done in vivo (in animals) and in vitro (in petri dishes) have found they “help protect cells from DNA damage, inactivate carcinogens, have antiviral and antibacterial effects, have anti-inflammatory effects, can induce [cancer] cell death (apoptosis), and inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis).” The link between cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention in humans is weaker but some believe this is simply because there are other variables such as exercise, lifestyle, and genetics at play as well as the fact that it is much harder to accurately know a person’s diet and vegetable consumption. So long, scientific ramble aside, I would say it is definitely beneficial to eat more greens! Here are three tips to help you do just that!
1) Join the smoothie revolution! Enjoy a smoothie 3-5 times a week and remember that the beauty is within. This means that a smoothie of strawberries and bananas is going to be much prettier than when you add in a couple handfuls of spinach. Although it may look slightly brown/green, your body will thank you for the added vitamins and minerals. You can check out some of my favorite smoothies here. If you find one you love or simply need an accountability partner join me in posting smoothie selfies on my Facebook page!
2) Go green! I encourage you to 75% of time swap out the fried sides for some green goodness. This goes for both meals made at home and enjoyed at restaurants. I know we all love French fries but this simple change can add a wealth of beneficial micronutrients that increase your health while decreasing your waistline. Do you need some inspiration? See what choices I make daily on my Facebook page!
3) Start a love affair with salads! I love salads, really, I do. The colors, textures, flavors, mmm mmm, all so good. Try to enjoy an abundantly colorful and flavorful salad weekly. This does not mean one with fried chicken, croutons, cheese, and low-fat Ranch dressing but instead one made with arugula, spinach, tomato, cucumber, avocado, fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Break the notion that the only place for a salad is on the side and enjoy it as your meal, your entire meal. This means you must make your salads large! I’m talking what you think would be for a family of four is just for you. Eat until your little heart is content. For examples you can check out my Facebook, Youtube, or for my seven favorite salad recipes check out "Refresh- a 14-day food & mood makeover"!
Now get out there and enjoy your greens!