The Health Benefits of Green Vegetables PLUS Recipes
Nibbling on fresh green vegetables can make a massive difference when it comes to your health. Adding a variety of green vegetables to your daily diet does two things – firstly, they help your body fight and prevent diseases. Secondly, they help your body perform optimally so that you can make the best out of each day by providing the minerals and nutrients that your body needs. Most green veggies are low in calories too, so they are a good way to take in nutrients and bulk up salads and meals (avos not included).
Yes, we know, technically, avos are a stone fruit, but we’ve included them because of their awesome health benefits. They really are little pear-shaped powerhouses with some fantastic health kicks. Firstly, they are full of fibre and so ensure that everything flows smoothly in the digestive system. Avos contain vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and folate (great for expecting moms). They are also a source of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Adding more of avo to your diet is a great way of providing you with healthy fats and to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
The artichoke heart is the most popular piece of the vegetable, yet there are other parts of it (the leaves), that are high in fibre. The high fibre content aids digestion and enzymes in the veg rid the liver of toxins and harmful fats, which would otherwise cause disease. They also contain antioxidants and we can always use more of those.
Try these recipes using artichokes – Artichoke and Choke Jaffles or Braaied Lamb Ribs with Artichokes and Citrus Vinaigrette
Asparagus are packed with folate, which helps keep your noggin healthy and operating optimally. It is also essential for the foetal development during pregnancy. The humble asparagus also contains a good amount of fibre, potassium and vitamin B6, A and C. Be sure to grab a fresh batch from the grocer, flash fry and enjoy them with a scrumptious dipping sauce.
Try these recipes using asparagus – Chargrilled Asparagus in Lemon Caper and Pistachio Butter or Chargrilled Asparagus and Avocado Salad with Prawns
Bok Choy (also called Pak Choi)
It is no secret that Bok Choy is a common ingredient found in a Chinese family’s pantry and has been, for over a thousand years. Packed with vitamins A and C, the veg is also known for being high in antioxidants and acts as an anti-inflammatory, which helps reduce the risk of chronic inflammation. It doesn’t take much to prepare Bok Choy – for a light and easy meal, you can sauté it with mushrooms or chicken for a wholesome lunch. Learn about other Asian Vegetables here.
Feared by little ones yet loved by doctors the world over, broccoli has held the title of being one of the healthiest veggies out there. Boasting impressive feats like containing more vitamin C than oranges, as well as vitamin K to keep bones strong. Most importantly it has a nutrient called folate, which reduces the risk of breast, lung and cervical cancers. Eating fresh broccoli or adding it to dinner regularly will ensure that the entire family will be healthier and happier.
Infamous Brussels sprouts have a bad rep for terrorising kids (and some adults) at the dinner table. They’re not terrorising though, in fact, the veg is a little green ball of health filled with essential nutrients like vitamins C and K, as well as calcium. Brussels sprouts help fight diseases like diabetes and help protect your skin, amongst other things. Make an enjoyable dish by tossing the sprouts in a tray, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle pepper over them before putting the tray in the oven to roast.
Try these recipes using brussels sprouts – Warm Pan-Fried Brussels Sprouts, Clemengold and Black Rice Salad or Choucroute Style Brussels Sprouts
You wouldn’t think that cabbage would be considered to be brain food, yet the nutrients it has enhances your ability focus and remember vital things. Despite its unassuming appearance, the average cabbage is actually packed with good stuff from vitamins K, C and B6, to folate, manganese, calcium, fibre and more. Cabbage can be prepared effortlessly and complements any meal.
Rich in fibre and water, the cool cucumber is the ideal veg to eat on a warm summer’s day, as it will keep you hydrated. Toss it in a salad or enjoy the veg by itself. The crunchy cucumber is filled with a number of vitamins; some of which can help relieve stress and ease anxiety. More so, it also has the ability to freshen your breath with a single slice.
You don’t have to go to a Japanese restaurant to enjoy edamame beans, they should be something you keep on hand as a tasty snack. Edamame beans are in fact immature soybeans and are a rich source of energy that can help you power through a long day. They contain protein, fibre and amino acids. These little green machines also contain as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese, vitamins C, E and B6 and a host of minerals.
From chips to smoothies and salads, no matter how you like to consume it, kale is extremely popular. This could be attributed to the fact that it’s inexpensive, versatile, contains zero fat and is full of fibre and antioxidants. This sought-after veggie is known for numerous health benefits such as having a high count of vitamins A, C, K, as well as iron, ensuring that you’ll fight off colds with ease and reduce the risk of getting a terminal illness.
Leeks are a great little green vegetable to get to know. They’re popular with chefs and cooks as a mild way to add base flavour to soups, broths and stock. If you deep fry them, they add a delicious crunchy topping to a variety of dishes. Leeks are packed with vitamin K, A, C, E and B6 and are a good source of manganese, copper, iron, folate, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Introducing lovely leeks to your diet can be beneficial your own health as well as your family’s too.
Lettuce is one of the key ingredients in a delicious salad of course and there are many different varieties that pair well with herbs and veggies on this list. Not only is it tasty, the vitamins found in lettuce can protect neurons in your brain from damage and improve your memory. This humble veggie contains lactur carium – a substance that relaxes your brain and induces sleep, which is awesome if you struggle to get a good night’s rest.
The humble green pea may be small yet it packs a healthy punch when it is consumed regularly. This tiny green vegetable does some wonderful things for the body like providing a lot of protein, preventing heart disease and acting as an anti-inflammatory. Eating fresh peas, enjoying pea soup or perhaps mushy peas on toast can prevent the early onset of Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and other bone diseases.
This nutritional powerhouse is a great green to add to any meal or to use as a base for a light dish like a salad. Filled with minerals and vitamins that ensure you’ll have low cholesterol and blood pressure. What makes rocket fun to use is that there’s so much you can make with it; a green gazpacho, add it to the top of a pizza, a green salad or to a tasty sandwich to add that signature pepperiness.
Try these recipes using rocket – Flatbreads with Garlic Mushrooms, Parmesan or Rocket Pesto with Goat’s Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts
Spring Onion (also known as scallions)
If onions had a little brother they would definitely be scallions. Like most leafy greens, they are chock full of vitamins and antioxidants that help build up your immunity and reduce cholesterol production. Be sure to add them to your next meal as they have a lovely flavour and crunchy texture.
Popeye is credited as the father of spinach and has encouraged most kids not to be afraid of this leafy green veg. Although spinach can’t give you muscles instantly, it can help you become healthier in the long run by helping prevent cholesterol, as well as by improving your mental clarity and keeping your brain’s functions razor sharp. It’s packed with iron as well as vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate, as well as manganese, magnesium and vitamin B2.
Waterblommetjies (small water flowers) are an essential ingredient in a popular South African dish of Afrikaans origin – waterblommetjie bredie. This little flowering plant is found in marshes and slow moving bodies of water in the Cape, and is, for lack of a better term, a water weed (Cape pondweed being another one of its monikers). It is pretty delicious when done right though. Waterblommetjies are also known for their medicinal use – the juice from the stem can be used to heal burns or skin issues and also for their high content of vitamin C.
Try this recipe using waterblommetjies – Waterblommetjie and Pork Knuckle Soup
Lightly flash fry this delicate vegetable in some oil, garlic and ginger to get the most out of it. In terms of nutrients, the plant delivers on all fronts, providing the body with the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs to repair cells, keep the mind sharp and skin healthy. Watercress also acts as an anti-depressant by making sure that the body as more than enough folate to keep the spirits up.
Check out our seasonal fruit and vegetable guide so that you know what’s in season when.
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