Forget all the Madison Avenue marketing companies’ hype about the latest, coolest, trendiest superfoods. Leafy greens are and always have been one of the most nutritious, inexpensive and easy to eat whole-foods! They’re easy to incorporate into any meal, versatile and not high-priced like other popular superfoods.
The nutritional value leafy greens set them a level above most other foods. They contain a wide array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds. Kale is an amazing source of vitamins A, C, and K as well as plant-based calcium, folate and potassium. Collard greens contain vitamins A, C, and K as well as manganese, calcium and cancer preventing glucosinolates (glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin). Swiss Chard contains the same vitamins in addition to magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E and no less than 13 different polyphenol antioxidants, including kaempferol and syringic acid. Morever, it offers phytonutrients, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification powers. Spinach, an unfairly maligned vegetable, contains vitamins A, C, and K, glycoglycerolipids (that help protect the lining of the digestive tract) and manganese, folate, iron, and several B vitamins. Turnip greens and beet greens are also extremely nutritious.
When choosing your greens, chose plants which are crisp rather than soggy or wilted. Also opt for the darkest leaves possible. Don’t worry about a few brown spots. Make sure to buy organic greens, commercially grown greens might have been exposed to harmful pesticides. While many people enjoy the natural bitterness of leafy greens, which is a great way to balance savory or sweet foods on a plate, there are also ways to temper the bitterness of leafy greens by adding golden raisins for sweetness, toasted pine nuts, sesame seeds or dressing. In most cases you’ll want to remove the stalks from the greens before cooking. You could save the stalks for soups or cooked separately.