Top 5 Supergreens to Get on Your Plate
Greens have been getting a lot of attention (green juice, anyone?), and nutritionally, they are pretty super! Expand your repertoire of veggies by including these five in your diet.
One fresh chopped cup of this popular green has almost 700 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin K, over 200 percent of vitamin A and over 130 percent of vitamin C. It’s also an excellent source of potassium, and it’s a good source of folate, calcium and iron. If that wasn’t enough, this green leafy vegetable contains a plant chemical called lutein, which has been linked with eye health. Kale is also part of the cabbage family, shown to help prevent cancer. Add kale to a smoothie, make your own kale chips, saute it with a touch of grapeseed oil, or use it in a salad.
Recipe: Green Smoothie
These leaves are from plants that produce seeds used to make mustard. As such, they’re one of the spiciest greens around and very nutritious. One cup of fresh chopped mustard greens has 15 calories, close to 350 percent the recommended daily dose of vitamin K and close to 120 percent of vitamin A. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C and folate. Mustard greens are also part of the cabbage family (aka cruciferous vegetables), shown to help prevent cancer. Saute and add to pasta dishes or braise with a touch of bacon and aromatic ingredients (like shallots) for a Southern-inspired flavor.
Recipe: Braised Mustard Greens
This green belongs to the same family as beets and chard. One cup of fresh spinach has 7 calories and is an excellent source of A and K. It’s also a good source of vitamin C and folate, providing 15 and 14 percent of your daily recommended dose, respectively. This leafy green is one of the richest sources of lutein, which helps protect the eyes. It also contains the plant chemical glycolipids, shown to help suppress cancer cell growth. Add spinach to hot dishes like omelets, soups, casseroles, pasta and pizza, or enjoy it cold in salads.
Recipe: Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets
Collards are members of the cabbage family. One cup of fresh chopped collard greens has 11 calories and 230 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin K. It’s also rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C, and it’s a good source of folate. This leafy green is popular in Southern cuisine, though you can enjoy it sans the large amounts of pork fat and salt.
This spring green is part of the mustard family. It has a slightly bitter, peppery flavor. One cup of fresh chopped watercress provides 4 calories and all the vitamin K recommended for the day. It’s also an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamins A and C. Add watercress to salads, sandwiches, soups and pizza.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.