Leafy greens should be the foundation of every healthy diet! Not only are they one of the most versatile types of vegetables on the planet, but they’re also some of the most nutritious. They deliver a hefty dose of many of the nutrients you need to be healthy, and they come in a veggie package that contains far fewer calories than you’d expect. If you want to eat right, here are the healthiest leafy greens to add to your diet:
Definitely the most popular of the leafy greens, spinach is an amazing source of many different nutrients: Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, manganese, and especially folate. Spinach is highly recommended for pregnant mothers because of its high folate content, as folate can help to decrease the risk of pregnancy problems. Even if you’re not pregnant, though, it’s still always a good idea to eat more spinach!
Microgreens are some of the healthiest leafy greens around, and some of the most interesting! They’re actually immature greens grown from herb and vegetable seeds, and they’re usually only a few inches tall. While they’re mostly used for decorations and garnishes, the truth is that they’re surprisingly rich in nutrients—up to 40 times MORE than mature greens. You get a healthy dose of Vitamin C, E, and K from microgreens, making them a valuable addition to your diet.
In terms of nutrient content, kale is probably one of the top three healthiest leafy greens around, Not only does it give you almost 700% of your Vitamin K DV, but you get 134% of your Vitamin C DV and 206% of your Vitamin A DV. Add to that, of course, plenty of antioxidants like beta-carotene, carotenoids, and lutein, all of which help to combat oxidative stress and inflammation. Eaten raw, it’s a nutrient powerhouse!
Collard greens are similar to kale, including being an amazing source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folate, and Vitamin K. In fact, cooked collard contains more Vitamin K—useful for encouraging healthy blood clotting and improving bone health—than almost any other vegetable, up to 1000% of your Vitamin K DV. They may be a bit bitter, but collard greens are definitely worth adding to your diet!
Though it’s part of the cabbage family, broccoli is definitely as healthy as any of the leafy greens on this list. A single cup delivers a hefty dose of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, along with phosphorus, folate, calcium, and dietary fiber. Broccoli is also very filling, so it will help to curb your appetite. Best of all, it’s loaded with sulforaphane, a plant compound that can improve gut flora and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
The thick leaves of a cabbage plant contain a lot more fiber than you’d expect, and they can be incredibly filling. They’re also loaded with glucosinate, a bitter-tasting compound that can help to protect your body against cancer. Fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) is one of the best foods to have a healthier gut, and cabbage is an amazing weight loss vegetable.
This lettuce is crunchier, darker, and leafier than iceberg, but it’s also richer in nutrients. You get a hefty dose of Vitamin A and Vitamin K in each cup of romaine lettuce, along with a hefty dose of water that will help to promote better hydration. Each serving of lettuce has just 8 calories and 45 grams of water, making it an excellent addition to any salad or healthy meal.