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Home » Blog

Top 10 Happy foods – Number 8 – Leafy Green Veggies

Submitted by on September 27, 2012 – 8:58 am

by Tyson Hammond

 Eating to feel good is something easy we can do to help our body and mind feel content and enjoy our lives a little more. Staying physically healthy is an essential part of keeping mentally and emotionally buoyant. One of the main things we can do to stay physically healthy is to eat good, nutritious food.

Over the next 8 weeks I will introduce you, one every week, to the remaining foods in my Top 10 Feel Good Foods. Foods that work to support all the different chemical reactions that happen within our beautiful bodies to keep us healthy and strong, but most of all elevate our mood!!

 

Eat Your Greens!

How many times have you been told that you should eat your greens? Your parents probably told you, possibly your doctor. Maybe your own inner voice has whispered “I should eat more salad” as you walk past the produce section in the supermarket. Well here’s another reason and voice to add to the Green Leafy Veggie (LGV) chorus within you.

There is oh so much goodness in these green friends of ours, too much for one Happyzine article! I could write one purely based on all the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, trace elements, enzymes, amino acids etc… within Leafy Green Veggies but it’s probably not going to help you eat more of them and that’s what I hope to inspire in you today.

 Leafy Green Veggies Elevate Your Mood!!

There have been numerous studies on vitamin and mineral deficiencies in relation to depression. Folate is a B vitamin that is frequently found to be low in people with depression. Leafy Green Veggies are super rich in natural folate. So lets start here. Lets look at what many studies have found to be the common nutrients lacking in people that aren’t feeling so happy or depressed. Then if we make sure we are eating enough of them in our daily diets we know the vehicle we’re driving is safe, fully functional and running smoothly on a sustainable bio-fuel. Therefore, we’re well on the road to happiness.
You may recall from the news in recent times the Government has been trying to introduce a mandatory fortification of bread with folate. This was mainly to help reduce the risk of neural-tube defects such as spina bifida. The proposal has recently been shelved due to the synthetic version of folate, folic acid, which was going to be used has been linked to the development of cancer. I’m mentioning this because there are many fortified breakfast cereals on the market that advertise they contain a high percentage of your daily intake of such vitamins and minerals. The reality is they contain the synthetic version of these, which the human body finds hard to assimilate and, worst case scenario, possibly even harmful in large or prolonged doses.
So unless you’re planning on becoming pregnant you can get plenty of folate from eating enough Leafy Green Veggies.
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is another nutrient that in deficiency has been linked to depression and fatigue. A lack of Thiamine also influences the brain’s ability to use glucose which can cause mental lethargy. Leafy Green Veggies are as high in thiamine as they are in folate. Thiamine, folate and Vitamin B6 are all easily destroyed by heat when cooking, so the easiest way to get these would be in your daily leafy green salad. Check out some of Sarah Lea’s inspiring articles about Raw Food if you’re stuck or bored for ideas on salads.

All the Vitamin B group work together in the body’s energy metabolism, helping deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells, so on a cellular level help keep the body happy. The B vitamins depend on each other to function optimally, so eating foods like Leafy Green Veggies that have a natural balanced mix of nutrients is the best thing you can do for your body.

Leafy Greens Help You Lose Weight & Lower Your Cholesterol!

The high fibre content of leafy greens helps your body feel full for longer, which helps control your cravings and hunger pangs. With our green friends being super low in calories filling up on them steers you away from other more fattening foods. The fibre also slows the body’s absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, which keeps your blood sugar levels steady helping you to avoid any big blood sugar level swings. Keeping your blood sugar levels steady lowers your risk of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes. The fibre content also helps eliminate wastes through your intestine, with excess cholesterol being one of those wastes. So you can say Leafy Green Veggies lower the risk of cardiovascular disease with their cholesterol lowering ability.

More Than Just Lettuce

What kinds of leafy green veggies am I talking about? Well the more different kinds of greens you can eat the more of a diverse range of nutrients you’ll be generously gifting your body. Yes, GIFTING YOUR BODY. Lets start at the supermarket. Next to the iceberg lettuce there’s usually different kinds of lettuce, darker in colour, maybe some with a red tinge. This is a good first step away from the old trusted iceberg. Then you might find bags of Rocket, or a nice mesclun mix. These bags are great if they’re fresh. You’ll probably find fresher stuff at your green grocer or local farmers market.

The best thing to do if you have the room is to grow them yourself. Greens like Kale (Red Russian Kale is my favourite) grow really easily with very little maintenance, so to does Mizuna. I love having Rocket in my garden and picking off a leaf for a chew when I walk past. Mustard greens give a similar peppery taste to salads. Then there’s Silverbeet, Spinach, Collard greens, Swiss chard and Parsley. There’s also Bok Choy and Brussels Sprouts, which I haven’t had much success in growing.

The butterflies and their offspring love my Bok Choy and my Brussels Sprouts don’t grow terribly big. Brussels Sprouts are worth the effort though as research has shown they possess some potent anticancer properties .

Get Planting!

These are just some of the attributes of Leafy Green Veggies, there are many more. I hope you feel inspired to regularly include a few more in your diet, even better I hope you are thinking of all the leafy green veggies you’re going to plant in your garden now. Being that’s it’s the perfect time of year to sow seeds.

Tyson Hammond is a medical herbalist and a naturopath living in Golden Bay. He is currently developing online health programs for ‘Wellgrounded Integrative Healthcare’ a company focused on helping people integrate beneficial and sustainable changes into their lives.
Contact: tyson@wellgrounded.co.nz

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