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5 Healthy, Green Foods That Can Do Your Body Good

green vegetables fit together to shape a heartIt’s St. Patrick’s Day, which means a lot of people are embracing the color green, even in what they consume. Because we at Best Health love a good theme, we want to help you think beyond seasonably available green shakes.

Check out five shamrock-shaded fruits, vegetables, nuts and drinks working into your celebration. And, for the record, you can consume them year-round.

1. Green cabbage

An obvious choice for this holiday, green cabbage offers more than a touch of traditional Irish fare. It is low in calories (25 per serving, raw) and a decent source of vitamin C (70 percent daily value per serving, raw).[1]

Plus, cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, and research shows that consuming cruciferous veggies has been associated with lowering one’s risk of cancer thanks to the sulfur-containing compounds they contain.[2] When fermented, cabbage offers benefits that boost immunity and aid in digestion.[3] Those are just a few of the benefits you gain by eating this leafy green.

Easy ways to eat cabbage: Shred it up and toss it in a salad. Sauté it with olive, oil, salt and pepper; then, serve it as a side dish. Crack a jar of sauerkraut and add some to your meal.

2. Avocados

Avocados may not scream “St. Patrick’s Day,” but this fruit is a festive shade of green inside and out. A single serving of the avocado’s buttery flesh is packed with nutrients—nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, including potassium, which helps control blood pressure; lutein, which is good for your eyes; folate, which is essential to cell repair and crucial during pregnancy; vitamin B, which helps fight disease and infection; and vitamins C and E, which help prevent cancer.[4]

Yes, the avocado is said to be relatively high in fat—4.5 grams, 7 percent daily value, per serving—but it is monosaturated fat, which is considered a “good” fat that helps lower bad cholesterol.[5],[6] They are also full of fiber that helps you feel full longer.

Easy ways to eat avocados: The inside of an avocado can be scooped out or sliced up and enjoyed raw or as part of a salad or sandwich. Guacamole is another popular way to consume avocados. Mash it up with salt, garlic and lime juice to keep it simple, or explore the Internet for a wealth of variations on the tasty dip.

3. Kiwifruit

This fuzzy fruit may be relatively small in size, but its nutritional benefits are quite mighty. Also known as the Chinese gooseberry, kiwi is fat free and low in calories, just 90 per serving—two medium kiwifruit, according to FDA guidelines.[7],[8] Plus, it’s full of antioxidents that help reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.[9]

A serving of kiwi contains 2.5 times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, more fiber than a bowl of bran cereal and more potassium than a banana, along with magnesium, lutein, folate, zinc and vitamin E.[10]

Easy ways to eat kiwifruit: Peel it, then cube it or slice it. Enjoy it alone or toss it into a fruit or green salad.

4. Pistachios

Eating green might evoke thoughts of veggies and a few fruits, but it’s time to think outside the produce aisle for a moment. In a nutshell, pistachios pack a lot of nutritional power. They boast a heart-healthy fatty-acid profile and offer a good source of protein, dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin K.[11] Studies show they may help maintain healthy antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and help control, among other benefits.[12]

Furthermore, pistachios include an array of phytochemicals—plant-made compounds that help promote health and well-being.[13],[14]

 Easy ways to eat pistachios: Remove the shell, if there is one, and enjoy!

5. Green tea

Green beer may be a staple of March 17, but green tea offers a lot to feel good about. Its biggest claim to fame may be that it’s rich in catechin, an antioxidant that fights and may prevent cell damage.[15] However, this beverage offers much more; it is said to improve blood flow, lower cholesterol, help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease and stabilize blood sugar.[16] Many studies also suggest that green tea may play an important role in preventing several types of cancer.[17]

Easy ways to consume green tea: Boil water. Brew. Sip. You can also pour it over ice for a chilled version.

These are just a few healthy green foods and a few of their benefits. We didn’t even mention spinach, Brussels sprouts, apples, green beans, kale and the many, many more. If you have questions about your diet and dietary needs, please consult with your healthcare provider.

 


 

[1] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Raw Vegetables Poster.” Last updated Jan. 6, 2015. http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm114222.htm

[2] Ware RDN LD, Megan. “Cabbage: Health Benefits, Facts, Research.” Medical News Today. Last updated Jan. 19, 2016. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284823.php

[3] Ibid.

[4] Zelman MPH, RD, LD, Kathleen M. “All About Avocados.” WebMD. June 19, 2014. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/all-about-avocados

[5] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Raw Fruits Poster.” Last updated Dec. 31, 2014. http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm063482.htm

[6] Zelman MPH, RD, LD, Kathleen M. “All About Avocados.” WebMD. June 19, 2014. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/all-about-avocados

[7] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Raw Fruits Poster.” Last updated Dec. 31, 2014. http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm063482.htm

[8] California Kiwifruit. “Health & Nutrition.” http://www.kiwifruit.org/health-nutrition/

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Dreher, ML. “Pistachio Nuts: Composition and Potential Health Benefits.” Nutr Rev. 2012 Apr; 70(4):234-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00467.x. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22458696

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] American Pistachio Growers. “Pistachios’ Nutrition Power.” http://www.americanpistachios.org/Nutrition-Power

[15]Scott, Paula Spencer. Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD. “Health Benefits of Green Tea.” WebMD. Sept. 13, 2013. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/health-benefits-of-green-tea

[16] Ibid.

[17] University of Maryland Medical Center. “Green Tea.” Last reviewed on Nov. 6, 2015. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea

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