Moms have told us since the beginning of time that we should eat all of the greens on our plate but, you should know, that not all greens are alike. The healthiest greens are high in nutritional value, like kale, while others hold to very little nutrition. Iceberg lettuce, for example, makes a regular appearance in my fridge but it holds the one of the lowest nutritional values in its class. Hopefully this will make you rethink the greens that you choose to construct your salads with and choose greens that are packed with vitamins.
Here is a list of your healthiest greens:
The top leafy friend on our list is kale. I was surprised by actually how much nutritional value could be packed into a leaf. Kale surpasses all of the greens tremendously when it comes to daily value in vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A. In 2 cups of kale we find 1368% of your vitamin K, 412% of your vitamin A and 268% of your vitamin C. Although this is the green highest in calories (30 per cup), the calories count and they are full of nutrition.
Next on our list of healthiest greens is spinach. There is a reason that Popeye was so incredibly fit. Spinach is significantly lower in calories in comparison to kale at only 7 calories a cup. However, we should take into account that it does have a lower amount of vitamins. Based on a serving of 2 cups a day, spinach has 362% of the needed vitamin K, 112% of vitamin A and 28% of vitamin C. It should be noted that spinach has more folate than kale, while kale only has 10% of the needed value spinach holds 30%.
Third on our list of the healthiest greens is romaine. This green is 8 calories per cup and it is a nice alternative to the commonly used iceberg lettuce because of the crunch it has and it is much healthier than its iceberg cousin. Romaine contains 164% of your daily vitamin A, 38% of the vitamin C, 120% vitamin A and 32% of the daily folate in just two cups.
The Science Behind The Healthiest Greens
When picking out your greens you should keep in mind that a general rule of thumb is that the loose and darker colored greens such as red leaf and arugula, are usually richer in nutrients than their tighter packed and lighter colored cousins. When I say ‘tighter packed’ I am referring to the head of iceberg lettuce that grows in a compact ball. Why is this? When you are outside and you are wearing a black shirt, it absorbs much more of the heat from the sunlight than a white shirt. Leaves work the same way. Darker leaves absorb more light and turn that energy into vitamins. So the more light absorbed, the more vitamins produced.
Always, be sure that you take care of your greens after you purchase them. Make sure that you keep your greens cool as any over-heating of greens can cause them to lose some of their nutritional value. Greens have also been known to accumulate more dirt in their folds than other veggies so make sure you rinse them well. My last tip is to make sure that you do not mess up your greens with dressing and toppings. Shy away from the heavy dressings, cheese (I know, it’s hard) and bacon bits. Look for things that are lower in calories and that will give you more protein and will produce a more balanced diet.
Good luck and may the healthiest greens be ever in your favor.