With all the talk of Covid-19 spoiling the recent national feast day celebrations, we can still maintain rude health by 'going green'.
Popeye showed us just how powerful spinach really was, and our mothers have been telling us for years to eat our greens, but are the veggies all they are cracked up to be?
The answer is a resounding yes - green vegetables are stuffed with vitamins and other nutrients that will keep your immune system in good working order.
Vitamin C: This is great for boosting the immune system, which should mean fewer colds and flus, and hopefully will arm and prepare us for any Covid-19 infections. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant; this will help prevent cancer and heart disease. Although the iron in green vegetables 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, just 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 immune 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 Alzheimer’s disease.
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.
Turning your plate green will help to boost your immune system and your general health. However prevention is better than cure, so remember wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing, and heed all the relevant advice to keep you and your family safe and healthy.
Cara Cunningham, MINDI, community dietitian