Dark leafy greens add a variety of healthful benefits to your diet. Adding one serving a day will greatly improve your digestion, provide you with an abundance of vitamins and minerals, and help fight against an array of diseases. Knowing the difference in dark leafy greens will help you plan your meals with a variety of nutrients. Follow this guide to help you make the right selection next time you head to your local produce market.
Collards can be recognized by their broad leaves with firm light veins running up from the stem. Offering a mild, smoky flavor, these members of the Brassica family are related to broccoli and cauliflower. Collards are loaded with organosulfur compounds, with 15 glucosinolates that have shown in studies to lessen the risk of a wide variety of cancers. Traditionally, collard greens are simmered on low heat for an extended time and served with black-eyed peas. You can also saute the leafy greens and add them to traditional Asian dishes, or roll them up in with your sushi.
You can recognize kale by its dark, broad, curly leaves. These leafy greens offer more nutritional value per calorie than almost any other food found in the market. Like collards, kale also belongs to the Brassica family, and contains beneficial organosulfur compounds that fight against cancer and other diseases. Kale is most often cooked over low heat for a long time, or blanched and seasoned with salt.
Spinach is one of the most versatile leafy green vegetables and has become widely popular in a variety of dishes. Low in calorie and packed full of nutrients, spinach can either be served raw or cooked with meals. It is available year round, and its sweet taste and delicate texture adds flavor to many different meals. Popeye had it right when he ate loads of these leafy greens. Spinach is rich in flavonoid compounds and has shown to fight against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, and arthritis.
Swiss chard is recognized by its bright, fanning green leaves and notable white ribs. Often, the ribs are cut out and used separately. Known for its rich, buttery taste, swiss chard’s green leaves are simply prepared in a saute pan. Loaded with dense nutrients, phytonutrients, and fiber, swiss chard has shown in studies to fight a number of digestive cancers as well as protect against kidney disease.
You can find a variety of chard greens at your local market including red, rainbow, and yellow chard. All variety have a mild flavor similar to spinach with their own distinct textures and aroma.
These spunky, peppery leafy greens are the parent plant of the dark seed used in spicy brown mustard. The leaves of mustard greens can appear crumpled or flat in texture with a toothed, scalloped, lacey, or frilled edge. They provide an excellent source of nutrients, with abundant amounts of 9 vitamins, 7 minerals, loads of dietary fiber, and a good amount of protein. Also in the Brassica family, mustard greens are packed with phytonutrients that fight free radicals and promote lung health.