BY NATHALIE NIDDAM | ACADEMY OF LIONS HOLISTIC NUTRITIONIST

Leafy greens should account for the greatest volume of food that you eat every day - sadly, for most people this is far from the case. It’s really too bad because when you dig in to the literature it becomes apparent very quickly that by doing so you could go a long way to meeting your body’s needs for many of the key nutrients so many people try to provide via a multi.

Six Reasons why you should:

  • Antioxidants
  • Fibre
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Chlorophyll
  • Low caloric density (not that we’re counting)

No matter your food philosophy, greens fit the bill, whether you’re on a low carb/high fat, high carb or high protein, you name it. I like to call greens the “great equalizers” of any diet. One of the biggest mistakes I see with people who are following low carb or ketogenic diets is the absence of greens with the excuse that they are carbs is ridiculous - you can eat buckets of them and stay well below even the lowest thresholds.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prep your greens for dinner:

  • Serve your greens with a bit of fat (avocado, EVOO, coconut oil, etc.) to help your body absorb and assimilate the fat soluble vitamins within (A, D, E, K).
  • Cook (at least lightly steam) greens from the cruciferous family to neutralize oxalates and goitrogens - this includes collards, brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, cabbage and bok choy.
  • Don’t forget lettuce! Escarol, arugula, Mâche and romaine - although we think of these as being relatively void in nutrient density they actually provide reasonable amounts of potassium, carotenoids, vitamin K, iron and our beloved fibre.

A few other things to keep in mind - variety - we tend to be creatures of habit so I often see people stuffing the same cup of baby spinach into their shake every day, live a little - try some arugula, some lightly steamed kale or chard.  Sounds crazy I know but rotation and variety are key to optimizing nutrients and minimizing alkaloids - compounds that naturally occur in plants.  We can tolerate some but too much of any one can be a problem.

One last thing - if you are one of those people that finds foods like kale and broccoli unbearably bitter it may be due to a genetic variation in what we call the “taster gene”.  In this case, go out and find yourself a good greens powder (Organifi, Greens Plus Fermented Greens) and make sure you have some every day - no excuses.

PS. Keep your eye out the 30 day Nutrition Challenge coming in May.

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