By: Deborah Shteierman, Dietetics Student

We have all heard “Eat Your Greens” but do you “Know Your Greens?” Green leafy vegetables provide a range of essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, and are low in calories. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a weekly minimum intake of 1 ½-2 cups of green leafy veggies. The best way to eat your greens is actually with a little bit of fat, even a ¼ tsp. will do, since some of the vitamins they contain need fat for absorption into the body.

Kale or romaine, Iceberg or arugula, which should you choose? Why not choose them all and eat a variety throughout the week, thereby getting the many benefits they provide? Some have become more popular recently but they are all bursting with nutrients. Here is the breakdown:

Kale:

  • Rich in vitamin A (48% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Rich in vitamin C (107% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Rich in vitamin K (525% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Rich in calcium (10% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Highest fiber option of the greens listed here, with 1g of fiber in 1 cup
  • High in lutein, which can prevent macular degeneration.
  • Recognized as playing a role in preventing cancer.

Romaine Lettuce:

  • Rich in vitamins A (12% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Rich in vitamin K (70% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Rich in folate (10% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)

Spinach:

  • Rich in vitamins A (20% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Rich in vitamin C (11% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Rich in vitamin K (161% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Rich in folate (15% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Rich in manganese (over 75% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)
  • Iron content: 1 cup contains only 5% of recommended daily intake, and the body does not absorb all the iron that is in spinach.
  • High in lutein, which can prevent macular degeneration. Spinach is also 91% water and is a great hydrating food.

Arugula:

  • Rich in vitamin K (24% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup)

Iceberg Lettuce:

  • Least nutrient dense, not a significant source of most of the other vitamins mentioned
  • Vitamin K content: contains 15% of recommended daily intake in 1 cup

So eat your greens but also know your greens!!

http://youngwomenshealth.org/2012/12/10/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/

http://www.foodandnutrition.org/March-April-2014/Leafy-Greens-Nutrition-Rock-Stars/

http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/how-to-get-your-kids-to-eat-dark-leafy-greens

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/tools-supertracker

 

 

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