March is the month of everything green, whether its signs of Spring and green grass, or the color associated with our annual holiday on March 17th- St. Patrick’s Day. This March, how about going green every day?
The reason we see green more at spring is due to chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is an essential component, which is found naturally in green vegetables. It is actually very similar molecularly to human blood, with the difference being in the center. In human blood, the center atom is iron, and in chlorophyll, it is magnesium. Hence, why we recommend leafy greens to increase your magnesium.
The preparation method and length of time a vegetable is cooked may affect the concentration of chlorophyll. For instance, as vegetables are cooked longer, chlorophyll levels are reduced. One easy way to know the chlorophyll concentration has decreased in vegetables is the color change.
Dark green leafy vegetables are rich source of vitamins: including Vitamin K,C,E and B-vitamins along with the minerals: iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.
Instead of the “it” factor you can refer to the Vitamin K potency in greens as the “clot” factor.A cup of most cooked greens provides at least nine times the minimum recommended intake of Vitamin K. It only takes 2-3 cups of dark salad greens to provide the minimum daily requirements.
To obtain nutrients it doesn’t have to only come from the dark green sources. Here are some nutritional benefits:
- Dark green cruciferous vegetables, such as: broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower (outcast) & green cabbage provide compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates, which are known for the detoxifying capabilities reducing cancer risk.
- Many yellow and green vegetables such as: arugula, chard, collards, mustard green, turnip greens, summer squash are good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, phytochemicals that accumulate in the eyes and help prevent age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people.
Below is a version of a popular treat on Saint Patrick’s Day. This is a great way to enjoy your greens even in a sweet way.
Healthy Shamrock Shakes
(courtesy of Chocolatecoveredkatie.com blog)
Calories: 150;Fat: 2.5g;Carbs: 32g;Fiber: 5.5g
- 1 frozen large banana, over-ripe
- Cacao nibs or chocolate chips
- 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract (I like 1/4 tsp)
- 2/3 cup to 1 cup milk of choice (For a super-rich shake, try full-fat canned coconut milk)
- Optional: 1/4 cup frozen spinach (If you can’t get on board with the greens-in-smoothies thing, you can opt for green food coloring or just drink a white mint shake. Or add a pinch of spirulina!)
Blend all ingredients in a blender until completely smooth. Make sure the banana you use is at least somewhat brown, so you don’t get that unripe earthy banana flavor in your mint chocolate shake! You can add the chocolate either before or after blending.