By: Dr. Tammy Lang
Dark leafy greens (DLG’s) are nutritional powerhouses and one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They help improve your digestion, are loaded with anti-aging antioxidants, have amazing inflammation-fighting powers and are just all around good for your health. We all know we should be eating them, yet most of us just aren’t getting enough. Here is a list of all the reasons why you’ll want to make dark leafy greens (DGLs) a part of your daily diet.
- Low in calories, high in fiber. Fiber in DGLs optimize the good bacteria in your gut.
- Eating DGLs can help us lose weight. They contain nitrates that have been associated in converting fat-storing cells into fat-burning cells. Increased fat burning- sign me up
- Loaded with vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants. All of which help lower inflammation and enhance immunity, repair DNA damage from exposure to toxins, detoxify carcinogens and alter estrogen metabolism.
- DGLs help balance blood sugar. They provide fiber and many vitamins that help support healthy glucose and insulin balance.
- DGLs slow cognitive decline. The vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein found in DGLs in addition to the antioxidants provide brain protection and can slow cognitive decline.
- Good for your skin. DGLs contain beta-carotene which helps to protect your skin from harmful UV rays and give your skin a youthful glow.
- Folate in DLG’s helps your body produce dopamine and serotonin your mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
- DLGs contain calcium to protect your bones.
- DLGs slow the aging process by protecting your telomeres. The protective caps on the ends of our DNA strands. The shorter the strand the quicker we age.
- DGLs support healthy inflammatory responses and help protect against chronic illness
- DGLs regulate a hormone called erythropoietin, known to decrease blood viscosity (thickness). This potentially reduces our chance of blood clots, heart attacks, and regulates cholesterol.
- DGLs may help lower blood pressure. DGLs contain nitrates which are converted to nitric oxide within the body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator. Vasodilation allows blood vessels to widen, muscles to relax, and blood flow to increase helping to lower blood pressure.
- DGLs can help increase stamina. The production of nitric oxide increases blood flow delivering more oxygen to muscles during exercise.
- DGLs can help improve our sleep. The nitric oxide production promotes the removal of neurotoxins improving our REM Sleep helping us to feel refreshed in the morning.
- DGLs are great detoxifiers. The Chlorophyll (what makes greens green) binds to heavy metals and toxins in your blood while the fiber supports the body’s ability to move them out.
- DGLs naturally contain digestive enzymes. Digestive Enzymes are critical for breaking down your food so that you can absorb the nutrients. Enzymes are the body’s sparks. They support numerous chemical reactions in our body. Deficiency of these enzymes can lead to any number of symptoms like constipation and bloating. When you eat raw DGLs you are naturally supporting your ability to produce digestive enzymes.
It is best to not over consume any one green. Variety is key. Mix it up with kale, arugula, dandelion, beet tops, collard greens, mustard greens, parsley, cilantro, spinach, swiss chard, romaine and micro-greens. With our busy lifestyles it’s not always convenient to eat a lot of greens or a great big salad, so here are a couple of hacks and ways for you to incorporate more greens into your meals.
- Blend greens into your morning smoothie or smoothie bowl.
- Use Romaine leaves or collard green as a wrap in place of bread or flour wrap.
- Top your soup with greens and let them wilt.
- Top a bed of greens with chicken salad or burger
- Sauté or stir fry greens in ghee, your favorite oil or broth.
- Stuff your sandwich with greens
- Chiffonade greens into your guacamole, soups, salads, sauces, or pasta dishes.
- For my personal favorite way to get a big dose of greens visit my Facebook for my Green Lemonade Recipe.
I hope you are inspired to get more dark leafy greens into your daily diet so you can reap all the healthy benefits they offer.
Dr. Tammy Lang takes a functional approach to achieving your health goals utilizing the power of food and nutrition coupled with and identifying lifestyle habits and root cause(s) to help you achieve optimum health. For more information, visit her website at https://drtammylang.com/#, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out the South Jersey Center For Nutrition and Wellness Facebook page.
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