Eat a Rainbow of Green Foods
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Asparagus, avocado, rocket, spinach, lettuce, watercress, cucumber, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Chinese leaf, leafy cabbage, pak choi, spring greens, green beans, peas, sugar snap peas, mange tout, cress, courgette, green pepper, spring onions, leeks, green apples and grapes, kiwi fruit.
Reducing the risk of certain cancers and heart disease and healthy vision.
Why Should I Eat Them?
Many green foods such as spinach, kale, peas, Brussels and broccoli are good sources of two carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin. Much research has been carried out looking at the effect these nutrients can have on protecting the eyes from a condition called age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the West. Lutein and zeaxanthin are present in high concentrations in the macula – an area in the retina in the eye. Here, they help to filter out harmful light that has the potential to damage the eye.
There is also some evidence to suggest that lutein and zeaxanthin help to prevent or slow down the progression of cataracts. In fact, four large studies have found that adults with the highest intakes of foods rich in these antioxidants, particularly spinach, kale and broccoli, are up to 50 percent less likely to develop cataracts or need them removed.
Cruciferous green veggies such as broccoli, kale, sprouts and watercress contain phytochemicals called indoles that may protect against breast cancer and sulphoraphane, which may lower the risk of colon cancer. In fact, research has shown that sulphoraphane actually destroys cancer-causing substances that have been ingested and then increases levels of antioxidant enzymes, which help prevent cancer.
Other research from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore has shown that sulphoraphane may also help to prevent stomach ulcers, thanks to its ability to kill H. pylori, the bacteria responsible for causing this unpleasant condition.
Finally, there’s even evidence that green veg are winners for keeping our heart healthy. A study of more than 100,000 health professionals found that for each daily serving of spinach or other greens eaten, an individual’s risk of heart disease dropped by a massive 11 percent.
How To Eat More Green Foods...
- Add rocket, baby spinach and watercress to salads
- Snack on mange tout or sugar snap peas
- Serve meals with a green veg such as sprouts, cabbage or spring greens
- Enjoy a bowl of pea soup for lunch
- Add leeks to stews, stir fries and casseroles
- Swap white cabbage for a dark green leafy veg such as kale
- Make stir fries more interesting by adding spring onions, green peppers, pak choi, sugar snap peas and green beans
- Add broccoli to cauliflower cheese for a tasty evening meal
- Add peas to pasta dishes, curries and even plain boiled rice
- Add spring onions, peas and courgettes to omelettes
- Make your own guacamole from avocado, diced tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice and chilli sauce.
Go green and pack your plate with delicious green foods. Use the WLR Food Diary to track your daily fruit and veg intake and the WLR Recipe Database to kick-start your balanced diet.Try it free for 24 hours.