Popeye showed us just how powerful spinach really was and our mothers have been telling us for years on end to ‘eat our greens’ but why is this so – are green veggies all they are cracked up to be?
Well the answer is YES! Green vegetables are stuffed with the essential nutrients.
Vitamin C: This is good for boosting the immune system which should mean fewer colds and flus. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant; this will help prevent cancer and heart disease. Although the iron in green veggies is difficult for our bodies to absorb it is helped by the presences of vitamin C. Watch out for cooking vegetables too much as you will lose vitamin C – steaming is better and learn to love the crunch!
Beta-carotene: Also known as vitamin A, as an antioxidant it protects your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. It improves your immunes system and is also good for your reproductive system.
Folic Acid: this is one of the B vitamins that helps prevents Neural tube defects in babies. (Although it is recommended that if you are planning to have a baby you should take a folic acid supplement 12 weeks before and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy ) It has also been linked to lowering heart disease risk and may prevent some forms of dementia such as Alzheimers.
Fibre: All vegetables contain loads of soluble fibre which not only prevents constipation in the short term but also lowers our risk of bowel cancer. In some people it can reduce the symptoms of Irritable Bowel syndrome (IBS ).
Carotenoids: Dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach contain carotenoids which could help prevent cataracts and blindness in older people.
Like all vegetables, greens are low in fat and calories, so it is a good idea to fill up on these vegetables if you are trying to cut down on your portion sizes. So turn your plate green on St. Patrick’s Day!
For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact: The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044 ) 9395518 or email [email protected].