10 Healthy Leafy Green Vegetables: Their Nutritional Benefits And Why Are They Necessary?

Date
June
16
2022
Compiled By Louise Rodriguez
Medically Reviewed By Dr. P Stein, MD FACT CHECKED

Vegetables are one of the essential food items in one’s life. Vegetables tend to provide every nutrient a person might ever need, from carbohydrates to as complex as omega 3.

They are also one of the primary sources of natural vitamins and nutrients for a pregnant woman.

There are tons of varieties of vegetables in the market; the best ones you can recall are Green leafy vegetables. These[10] are possibly one of the most nutrient and vitamin-rich food items.

List Of Best Healthy Leafy Green Vegetables

In this article, we will study in-depth these green leafy vegetables and what they offer to the human body, and what are all the nutrients they hold that are a boon to humankind.

To give more range to your recipes with the seasoning of health, add these leafy greens to your diet straight away.

  1. Spinach

    The most famous and popular green leafy vegetable is spinach which has gained popularity over years due to its universal compatibility with soups, smoothies, salads, and sauces.

    However, Popeye the sailor man is another reason for the popularity of this vegetable among children.

    Spinach is a vegetable with an impressive nutrient profile[1] containing vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate that plays a vital role in red blood cell production and also helps during pregnancy.

  2. Cabbage

    Another popular and universally compatible green leafy vegetable is cabbage which can be described as a cluster of thick leaves one over another that comes in multiple colors consisting of white, green, and purple.

    This vegetable belongs to the Brassica family alongside broccoli and kale. This green leafy vegetable and other brassica family vegetables contain glucosinolates that are known to give them a bitter flavor.

    The one famous and relieving fact about this vegetable is that the dishes containing cabbage have cancer-protective properties, especially triggering lungs and esophageal cancer.

    Another interesting fact[2] about this vegetable is that it can be fermented and give even more health benefits like improving your immune system and digestion and even help in weight loss making it a fitness favorite vegetable.

  3. Romaine Lettuce

    Romaine Lettuce is another common green leafy vegetable that can be described as a vegetable containing sturdy, dark leaves with a firm center rib.

    It is a great source of vitamin K and vitamin A. The crunchy texture of Romaine Lettuce is popularly used in Caesar salad. It is proved[3] by scientists that this green leafy vegetable tends to improve blood lipids.

    This may potentially decrease the risk of heart failure even though the studies have shown these results on rats only and are yet to be tested on people.

    Romaine Lettuce henceforth is a very popular Lettuce and provides a great deal to the human body and is a great add-on to salads.

  4. Swiss Chard

    Swiss Chard is a dark leafy vegetable with a thick red, white, yellow, or green stack. It is majorly used in Mediterranean dishes since it belongs to the family of beets and spinach.

    Its earthy taste may not suit everyone’s tongue but the value it offers is beyond imagination because of its high content of potassium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K with syringic acid.

    The vitamins may also help lower blood sugar levels however this can not be confirmed finally because of the results being related to minor animal studies wherein diabetic rats resulted in improved blood sugar levels.

    It is also to be noted[4] that the stems of this leafy vegetable are extensively nutritious which most people tend to throw away, while Swiss chards are a great add-on to dishes such as tacos, soups, or casseroles.

    Swiss chards indeed are one of the best vegetables alongside beets.

  5. Escarole

    Often confused with lettuce due to the similar leafy appearance, it varies a great deal from lettuce. It has more flavor. It is leafier than kale and has broad leaves.

    The darker green part is bitter and better cooked. The rest is good to chomp on raw. It can fit in the fruit salad perfectly and blend in the dishes with the main ingredients.

    The sharp flavor raises the bar enough for any other leafy green to outshine it in salads. It offers a range in both size and cooking style. If available, choose it[5] anytime over lettuce. 

  6. Turnip Greens

    They may or may not come as a shocker to you. But if you throw them away, it will make you regret knowing the benefits you just put in the dustbin.

    These greens[6] have the potential to turn into spicy Southern-style recipes. They provide abundant vitamins like K, C, and A.

    It has applications in the medical field like prevention of cancer, treatment of osteoporosis, and better mood and sleep. It may also boost digestion and fertility.

    It is considered safe for diabetic patients and helps the skin glow. The best part is its flavor enhances the spice a little bit. They are perfect to be eaten raw in salads, stir-fried, or boiled.

  7. Bok Choy

    Bok choy is a very famous Chinese cabbage with thick dark green leaves that turn out great with soups and stir-fries. 

    Bok choy is a great source of mineral selenium which is an important factor in cognitive function, immunity, and cancer prevention.

    It could also help vitally in thyroid gland functions which is a gland located under the neck and releases hormones important for metabolism. This makes bok choy an important factor for your metabolism.

    Bok choy is widely used in many Chinese dishes, even containing some noodles that make Bok choy an interesting and nutrient-rich vegetable. 

  8. Watercress

    Watercress, as the name suggests, is an aquatic plant that also is used as a leafy vegetable for human consumption and comes under the Brassicaceae family, the same to which arugula and mustard belong.

    Several studies[7] have shown that watercress potentially is alleged to hold healing properties and has been used as a herbal medicine for a long time now.

    The test tube studies conducted by scientists have proved the theories to steer watercress to targeting cancer cells and impair cancer cell reproduction and invasion.

    The bitter and spicy taste of watercress does not make it an automatic favorite among people but is a great add-on to neutrally flavored dishes.

    Watercress is a boon to mankind with a revelation of the next level.

  9. Beet Greens

    Beet has gained popularity since the middle ages and claimed to be a beneficiary food product for health which is backed by an impressive nutritional profile yet the leaves of beets are often ignored.

    Though the leaves too, contain huge quantities of potassium, calcium, riboflavin, fiber, vitamins A, and vitamin K alongside antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein.

    These nutrients[8] tend to prevent and treat eye disorders such as cataracts. Beet greens like beets are very versatile when it comes to food and are compatible with a major variety of dishes like soups, salads, and side dishes too.

    Beet greens can be one of the Greatest green leafy vegetables out there in the market with the most benefits of being used properly.

  10. Sorrel

    It is another leafy vegetable that is related to buckwheat and one must consider it. In the case of nutrition, it beats spinach. The taste is flavourful and lemony.

    It is a great source of vitamin C. Additionally, it has better nutrition and almost the same calories as spinach. So you can safely call it a better alternative.

    It has proven benefits[9] for eyesight, curing low bp, reducing blisters, detoxifying the body, and healing the skin.

    It strengthens immunity, is enriched with antioxidants, and has high fiber and protein with low carbs. It is good enough to be a part of a cutting diet also.

Conclusion

Green leafy vegetables alone have the potential to contribute to a full-fledged genre of food. It is highly nutritious and is a major subset of a plant-based diet. 

In the world of unhealthy eating habits, it is the right choice which one should stick to. There is a huge list of advantages of eating green leafy vegetables. 

It is fresh, easy to digest, and provides magnesium and iron. It is useful for overall development looking after both mental and physical health. 

A person with good accommodation of green leafy veggies in the diet is more likely to live healthily. A balanced diet seems impossible without their inclusion in the diet. 

They are good for metabolism, gut-friendly and a perfect kick start to the day. Mainly they should be eaten before the evening time and in combination with legumes to avail the maximum benefits.

+10 References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed researches, academic and medical institution studies. 

  1. Sang-Heui Ko, Jae-Hee Park, So-Yun Kim, Seon Woo Lee, Soon-Sil Chun, Eunju Park. Antioxidant Effects of Spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) Supplementation in Hyperlipidemic Rats. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2014 Mar; 19(1): 19–26. doi: 10.3746/pnf.2014.19.1.019.
  2. Dong Kwon Yang. Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) Protects against H2O2-Induced Oxidative Stress by Preventing Mitochondrial Dysfunction in H9c2 Cardiomyoblasts. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018; 2018: 2179021. Published online 2018 Aug 12. doi: 10.1155/2018/2179021.
  3. Gregory C. Henderson. Lettuce romaine calm and manage our glycemia: adding leafy greens to a meal may improve postprandial metabolism. Lipids Health Dis. 2021; 20: 67. Published online 2021 Jul 15. doi: 10.1186/s12944-021-01495-9.
  4. Magda Gamba, Peter Francis Raguindin, Eralda Asllanaj, et al. Bioactive compounds and nutritional composition of Swiss chard ( Beta vulgaris L. var. cicla and flavescens): a systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2021;61(20):3465-3480. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1799326. Epub 2020 Aug 4. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32746613/.
  5. El-Sayed M. Abdel-Aal, Humayoun Akhtar, Khalid Zaheer, Rashida Ali. Dietary Sources of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Carotenoids and Their Role in Eye Health. Nutrients. 2013 Apr; 5(4): 1169–1185. Published online 2013 Apr 9. doi: 10.3390/nu5041169.
  6. Gordana M. Dejanovic, Eralda Asllanaj, Peter Francis Raguindin, et al. Phytochemical characterization of turnip greens (Brassica rapa ssp. rapa): A systematic review. PLoS One. 2021; 16(2): e0247032. Published online 2021 Feb 17. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0247032.
  7. Esmaeel Panahi Kokhdan, Hadi Khodabandehloo, Hossein Ghahremani, Amir Hossein Doustimotlagh. A Narrative Review on Therapeutic Potentials of Watercress in Human Disorders. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021; 2021: 5516450. Published online 2021 May 7. doi: 10.1155/2021/5516450.
  8. Tom Clifford, Glyn Howatson, Daniel J. West, Emma J. Stevenson. The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2015 Apr; 7(4): 2801–2822. Published online 2015 Apr 14. doi: 10.3390/nu7042801.
  9. Carresse L. Gerald, Chakia J. McClendon, Rohit S. Ranabhat, et al. Sorrel Extract Reduces Oxidant Production in Airway Epithelial Cells Exposed to Swine Barn Dust Extract In Vitro. Mediators Inflamm. 2019; 2019: 7420468. Published online 2019 Aug 1. doi: 10.1155/2019/7420468.
  10. Martha Clare Morris, ScD, Yamin Wang, PhD, Lisa L. Barnes, PhD, David A. Bennett, MD, Bess Dawson-Hughes, MD, and Sarah L. Booth, PhD. Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline. Neurology. 2018 Jan 16; 90(3): e214–e222. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815

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