In the world of produce if one had to choose a popular celebrity in which to interview it would certainly be the dark leafy green. The power of these produce items (such as kale, collard greens, spinach, arugula, swiss chard…to name a few) is undeniable today. So much so that NPR has dedicated not one, but several stories to the power of Kale alone.
Kale is certainly the most well known celebrity these days. According to NPR, the leafy green can now be found on over 400% more restaurant menus throughout the US. It has even inspired our own resident recipe guru, Rachel Oberg to encourage foodies to throw a Kale Party. For those of you who want to show your love of the leafy green on your sleeve there is no shortage of Kale inspired t-shirts available online. When I noticed that my mother’s Thanksgiving soup this year included a few cups of organic Kale, I knew I needed to delve a bit deeper into why dark leafy greens were at the forefront of people’s minds.
I believe the key lies in increased studies which show dark leafy greens carry tremendous health benefits. Not only do they contain high levels of vitamins A, C, E and K, they contain fiber, folate (a water-soluble B vitamin) and also cartenoids (the colorful pigments found in the cells of the leaves) which are believed to reduce one’s risk of cancer, if consumed in moderate amounts. Leafy greens have been shown to improve digestive health (due to the dietary fiber, which may also reduce the risk of colon cancer), and are a fantastic food for those on weight loss diets as they contain very few carbohydrates, and are low in sodium and cholesterol. The folks of the AG dept. at the University of Kentucky recommend adding a little olive oil to your leafy greens to help increase the absorption of all of these wonderful nutrients and the USDA recommends eating up to 2-3 cups of dark leafy greens per week to enjoy all the health benefits these powerhouse greens have to offer.
What are some great ways to do that?
Here are a few recipe ideas from the AHO Kitchen to get you started on your way:
So what’s your favorite leafy green and what’s your favorite way to eat/cook/prepare it? Be sure to share in the comments below.