We all know that eating leafy greens are incredibly beneficial for a healthy diet.
But just how healthy are they? Do we really need to eat them? Can’t we just stick with regular iceberg lettuce? While there is nutritional value in consuming iceberg lettuce, other leafy green varieties are packed with significantly more vitamins and minerals required for excellent health. Let’s take a closer look at the nutrition in leafy greens and other lettuce varieties.
Nutrition in Leafy Greens
Vitamin A: Necessary to support healthy eyesight and immune system functions.
Vitamin C: Acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. The body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal. In addition, vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system work properly to protect the body from disease.
Vitamin K: Important for blood clotting and healthy bones.
Folate: Needed to make DNA and other genetic material. It is also needed for the body’s cells to divide.
Calcium: Important for maintaining strong bones and teeth. It is also needed for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between the brain and every body part. Calcium is also used to help blood vessels move blood throughout the body and to help release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body.
Magnesium: Important for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and making protein, bone, and DNA.
Phosphorus: Required for the formation of bones and teeth and for energy production. Used to form nucleic acids, including DNA
Potassium: Maintains fluid volume inside/outside of cells and thus normal cell function. Helps stop the rise of blood pressure in response to excess sodium intake, and decrease markers of bone turnover and recurrence of kidney stones.
Protein: Serves as the major structural component of all cells in the body, and functions as enzymes, in membranes, as transport carriers, and as some hormones. (Read 65 Meatless Protein Sources Your Body Craves.)
Fiber: Improves laxation, reduces risk of coronary heart disease, assists in maintaining normal blood glucose levels.
Sodium: Maintains fluid volume outside of cells and thus normal cell function.
* All nutrition statements are sourced from the United State’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Check out the NIH Vitamin & Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets for further details, including the recommended amounts per day.
*All data was sourced from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27
Leafy Green Cherry, Onion & Blueberry Salad
I’ve been on a leafy green salad kick lately and discovered my ALL TIME favorite salad. Mix these ingredients together and let your body soak in the nutrition:
- (Your Favorite) Leafy Green Mix
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Cherry Infused Balsamic Vinegar
- (Optional) Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts, or Pecans
You can do your favorite oil and vinegar combination, but I’ve just drizzled my cherry balsamic vinegar over top the salad and called it good. 🙂