Dark leafy greens—like kale, spinach and collards—are some of the most nutritious foods you can eat. They’re packed with fiber and vitamins A, C and K. One serving is 2 cups of raw greens or 1 cup of cooked. We love them in these recipes and also because they can help us stay healthy.
Pictured: Spanakopita Loaded Potatoes
Here are 5 more reasons to help convince you to eat more dark leafy greens.
Adding dark leafy greens, or any other veggie for that matter, to a meal results in eating fewer calories without increasing hunger, according to a study published in Nutrition Reviews. Their fiber and water content helps greens fill you up and keep you feeling full longer—which can help you lose weight.
Dark leafy greens are high in beta carotene and alpha carotene, antioxidants in the carotenoids family. When researchers tracked the diets of men and women for 10 years they found those who had diets high in alpha and beta carotene had reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, in a 2015 study.
People who ate 1-2 servings of dark leafy greens a day had the mental abilities of those over a decade younger, according to research presented at the American Society for Nutrition conference. Researchers think vitamin K plays a main role by helping create sphingolipids—special fats that are critical to brain function. The lutein, folate and beta carotene in the greens may also help.
The dairy aisle isn’t the only place to find calcium-rich foods; dark leafy greens are also a good source. Calcium is needed to build bones and teeth, as well as keep your muscles and nerves working.
All of these green comfort recipes deliver around 20% of your daily calcium recommendation, thanks to dark leafy greens and dairy.
Studies show that carotenoids, a pigment in dark leafy greens, may lower your risk of head, neck, breast, stomach, skin and lung cancers. Researchers think carotenoids act as antioxidants in the body, helping fend off harmful free radicals. These greens are also rich in vitamin C, which is linked with reduced risk of head and neck cancers.