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.
Health Benefits
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.
Vitamin K:
·         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.
Almost Carb-Free

Greens have very little carbohydrate in them, and the carbs that are there are packed in layers of fiber, which make them very slow to digest. That is why, in general, greens have very little impact on blood glucose. In some systems greens are even treated as a "freebie" carb-wise (meaning the carbohydrate doesn't have to be counted at all).

Quick Facts...

·         Lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens are an important part of a healthful diet because they can be year-round sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, and other nutrients.

·         Red and dark green leafy vegetables are generally higher in antioxidants, Vitamin B6, and other nutrients than lighter colored greens.

·         It is important to store leafy greens at refrigerator temperatures and rinse well under running water before using.

·         To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, observe “Use by” dates printed on bagged leafy vegetables and salad mixes and use within two days after opening.

·         There are many flavorful and nutritious leafy greens available to consumers, especially if you choose to grow them from seed.