Green foods are some of the healthiest foods you can eat (and no, that doesn’t include green M&Ms). Green foods like spinach, kale, asparagus, broccoli, and cucumbers offer numerous health benefits: they can help regulate blood pressure, lower cancer risk, promote bone strength, aid in vision, protect against heart disease, and strengthen your immune system. Eating a diet high in plant foods also helps protect the digestive tract and keep things running smoothly.
Boost your health by following these tips to get more green foods into every meal!
- Make a green smoothie for breakfast. Start your day off right with a power-packed green smoothie. You can easily add several handfuls of spinach to a fruit smoothie without adding much volume or affecting the taste. If you’re feeling more daring, you can also add kale, Swiss chard, or beet greens.
- Rethink salads. If you think salads are boring, try branching out a little. Steer clear of iceberg lettuce, which has the lowest nutritional value of any lettuce. Romaine, green leaf lettuce, and mixed spring greens all make a great base for a nutrient-packed salad. Try adding thinly sliced kale, cabbage, or Brussels sprouts. Toss in some nuts and seeds for crunch instead of croutons. Also stay away from chemical-laden bottled dressings and make your own — an easy lemon vinaigrette or even simply some herb-infused olive oil will be healthier and taste fresher. Get in the habit of serving a side salad with dinner every night for an easy nutrient boost.
- Make some baked kale chips to satisfy cravings for something salty and crunchy. Tear kale leaves into bite-sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 degrees until the edges are brown, about 10 minutes.
- Drink green tea. Out of all varieties of tea, green tea contains the highest concentration of antioxidants — substances that protect against cell damage. Green tea can help prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol, protect against cancer, control blood sugar levels, boost metabolism, and help burn fat. Trade out your afternoon cup of coffee for green tea — you’ll still get a caffeine boost, plus all the extra health benefits!
- Sprinkle in some baby kale. Adding a little kale to anything you cook will automatically boost its nutrient content. Keep a container of pre-washed baby kale on hand and sprinkle some into whatever you’re making — whether it’s a veggie stir fry, an omelette, or a turkey burger.
- Try a secret green dessert. Avocado makes a great base for a dairy-free chocolate mousse. (Trust us on this one.) Mix 4 ripe avocados, 1 cup agave nectar, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, and 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder until combined. Top with fresh berries and serve. The avocado creates a creamy texture with all of the flavor or a rich chocolate dessert and none of the guilt!
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Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on March 17, 2017