Are greens the new black? Studies show that upping your intake of these micronutrient-rich jewels offers a host of healthful benefits. Green-and-leafies keep cancer at bay, support weight loss, keep you regular, help hydrate your body, and more. Read on to find out why your Nana was right when she preached “Eat your greens!”
If the idea of leafy greens brings back childhood memories of gagging down piles of limp, watery spinach from a can, you’re not alone. Just ask influential Irish book reviewer and weight-loss success story, Margaret Bonass Madden.
“As kids, we were told to ‘eat your greens,’ in the same tone of voice as ‘cut your toenails’ or ‘tidy your room.’ — and I blame cabbage!” Madden explained her early fear of greens stemmed from how it was prepared — often boiled to a pulp and served with ‘hairy bacon’ (literally a joint of pork with the pig’s hairs still sticking through the skin). She says it was “One of the most unappealing, stinky greens on the planet that has traumatized many an Irish child.”
But today, Madden is an avid greens supporter, and she credits them with helping her reach her 26-pound weight-loss goal. And with the upsurge in CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), farmer’s markets, and high-end supermarkets like Whole Foods, you no longer have to live on a farm to experience the bountiful variety of greens.
To get the skinny on green superfoods, we spoke to Carolyn O’Neil, a registered dietician, weekly food and travel columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and author of The Slim Down South Cookbook. “Greens,” O’Neil explained, “are a good source of the minerals magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium. But that’s not all. They’re also high in fiber and fresh greens are a good source of vitamin C.”
“You can enjoy a variety of greens prepared in a variety of ways, from fresh in salads, to braised in stews or soups, to sautéed as a side dish,” she told us. “And the greener they are, the better.” Still, O’Neil thinks there’s room on the plate for all greens. “Don’t ignore iceberg. It’s full of water and can help with hydration. So feel good about iceberg in a wedge salad.” The extra water also fills the stomach, making you feel fuller and eat less, which can help you lose weight.
I'm a New York City-based novelist, cookbook writer, and ideation agent whose former jobs include stand-up comic, bookseller, and medical editor. Interests include nutrition, pop psychology, British culture, and dogs. My very favorite thing is reading.