Thursday, March 21, 2013
Article # 418. Benefits of Green Salads
Green leaves are the sources from which growing plants derive light and energy. Green leafy vegetables are an integral part of a healthy diet. The phytonutrients in green salads promote general well-being and overall health because they act as antioxidants and help to prevent a number of diseases.
Salad greens contain a wide assortment of vital nutrients. They are full of vitamins A and C, calcium, folate and beta-carotene. Greens provide an efficient fat-free, low cholesterol source of fiber in the diet that aids in digestion and healthy elimination. Salad greens naturally are low in sodium and contain a very low amount of calories, making them ideal choices for people on a diet.
Salad greens are filling and dieters can eat unlimited amounts without adding calories to their diets. One cup of lettuce, the most common leafy green used in salads, contains only about seven calories. Lettuce is versatile as well, and can be mixed with any number of other healthy fresh vegetables and fruits. Salad greens can be added to sandwiches and other meals to add fiber and nutrition to a meal without adding fat or calories.
Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.
Perhaps the star of these nutrients is Vitamin K. A cup of most cooked greens provides at least nine times the minimum recommended intake of Vitamin K, and even a couple of cups of dark salad greens usually provide the minimum all on their own. Recent research has provided evidence that this vitamin may be even more important than we once thought (the current minimum may not be optimal), and many people do not get enough of it.
· Regulates blood clotting
· Helps protect bones from osteoporosis
· May help prevent and possibly even reduce atherosclerosis by reducing calcium in arterial plaques
· May be a key regulator of inflammation, and may help protect us from inflammatory diseases including arthitis
· May help prevent diabetes
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so make sure to put dressing on your salad, or cook your greens with oil.