Tweak a Week # 1 Leafy Greens & Spinach, Kale, Chard

Tweak A Week

This week we will focus on adding more leafy greens and a few vegetables from cruciferous group, spinach, kale, and chard. The health benefits of these wonder vegetables are vast and should truly be a large part of a healthy life plan. The anti-inflammatory effects of these vegetables are especially important for anyone with auto-immune or inflammatory diseases. They can be eaten either raw or cooked, a combination of which ads variety in both taste and nutrition benefits.

Starting a meal off with a salad with ample leafy

Generally speaking the more color the leaves have, the more nutritious, but not always. Iceberg Lettuce definitely does not pack the same nutritious punch as Red, Green Leaf, or Romaine. Let me be clear, Iceberg lettuce is not BAD for you, it simply is not as nutrient dense as other varieties, but is does not have to be avoided. It can add a nice crispiness to a salad including more nutrient dense darker lettuce.

All lettuce is a good source of chlorophyll and vitamin K. In China lettuce represents good luck and is served on special occasions. Lettuce has an extremely low calorie count at 15 calories per 3 ½ ounce serving (that’s a lot of Lettuce) and has an extremely high water volume content.

Romaine is generally regarded as the most nutrient dense lettuce. It is an excellent source of Vitamins A, C, B1, B2 and Folic acid as well as Manganese and Chromium. While Iceberg is regarded as the least nutrient rich, it is a good source of Choline.

Butter-head lettuce has a nice sweet flavor and soft texture. This is a great option for putting anything you would put on bread or in a tortilla in and have a lettuce wrap!

Loose-leaf lettuce including red and green-leaf is mildly crispy and a great addition to a salad for a variety of leafy greens.

Spinach, Kale, and Chard, are not actually in the Leafy Green family; rather they belong in the cruciferous family with broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. But since they are such a great addition to a salad and seem like a leafy green we have included them in this week’s Tweak.

Spinach is truly a super-food. It would take several pages to extol all of the benefits of spinach, or of kale and chard. One cup of spinach only contains 41 calories, but is packed with vitamins A, K, E, C, B1, B2, Folic Acid, Carotenes, Manganese, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Beta-Carotene, and a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called Quercetin.

Spinach contains twice as much iron as most other greens and is incredibly alkaline-forming in the body which helps regulate the pH and promotes optimum health. It is one of the richest dietary sources of lutein and zeaxanthin promoting healthy eyesight and preventing macular degeneration and cataracts. In order for lutein to be absorbed fat must be present (that’s why lutein in egg yolks is powerful). So to benefit from lutein in spinach try sautéing it in a little coconut oil, use it in a salad with a bit of olive oil or nuts and seeds, possibly consider adding a hard-boiled egg.

Spinach contains 13 different compounds called Flavonoids that function as anti-cancer agents and antioxidants. For those who do not choose to drink milk, spinach is a terrific source of calcium. The Vitamin C and beta-carotene in spinach may help prevent colon cancer because they help protect the colon cells from the damaging effects of free-radicals. These important vitamins also help REDUCE INFLAMMATION and may help protect the brain from age-related declines. Now, who can argue with all of this, eat your spinach. Popeye had it right!

Kale is also a superstar vegetable! Kale is actually a cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable. There are several varieties of kale which vary in texture and taste, try them to see what you prefer; it’s worth it to incorporate kale because it is one of the most highly nutritious vegetables. It contains powerful phytochemicals. Kale has been shown to be protective against breast, cervical and colon cancer due to its indole and plant compounds content.

Packed with vitamins A, C, E, K, B1, B2, B6, Manganese, Carotenes, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin (like spinach). It actually contains 7 times the beta-carotene of broccoli and one cup of Kale supplies more than 70% of the RDI for Vitamin C for only 20 calories! It is also high in minerals like copper, iron and calcium. In fact the high ratio of calcium to phosphorous is beneficial since high phosphorus consumption has been linked to osteoporosis because it reduces the absorption of calcium.

Finally, kale is high in sulfur, containing sulforaphane. This boosts the body’s detoxification enzymes thus help prevent cancer. This sulforaphane is released when the vegetable is chopped or chewed and then triggers the liver to remove free-radicals and other chemicals that cause damage.

Swiss Chard (Rainbow Chard) is also in the cruciferous family and provides many of the same benefits as kale and spinach. It is full of carotenes, vitamins D, E, K, B6 dietary fiber, chlorophyll, calcium, protein, thiamine, zinc, niacin, folic acid and selenium. It is also rich in the minerals magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese. It is considered one of the most powerful cancer fighting foods. The Vitamin K1 in Chard is good for bone health. Vitamin K1 activates osteocalcin, which anchors calcium molecules inside the bone.

Prepared for Move to Improve….…Total Woman Fitness……..Leigh Pozas.……

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