By Lisa Donaldson (nee Simpson)
As a child you were told to eat your greens, you screwed up your face and avoided them at all cost. Now greens are taking the health and fitness world by storm, and people are embracing greens like never before. From green smoothies to green muffins – if it can be juiced, pulverized and utilized we are eating it! As a dietitian I rejoice. Let’s take a look at how greens stack up nutritionally:
Eating green vegetables are fabulous for the waistline. Their low kilojoule and high-fibre attributes allow us to consume loads of them. They allow us to feel satisfied because they fill us up. They are low in fat and high in nutrition so help reduce the risk of chronic disease and obesity.
The nutrients they provide can also help facilitate the body’s repair mechanisms and help protect the body against free radicals. Regular intake of leafy vegetables can help you fight against the effects of aging and prevent cancer in a natural way.
Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. 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.
If you have elevated blood sugar levels you can benefit from eating green vegetables. Research shows that eating a serving of green vegetables everyday can help decrease the risk of diabetes substantially. Green vegetables also contain calcium and vitamin K, so they keep our bones strong.
For LES MILLS instructors and athletes greens are particularly beneficial, especially if you are prone to illness, have a depressed immune system or you need that extra endurance. Greens provide us with plentiful nitrates, which increase our mitochondrial efficiency. In simple terms, this means that your potential for efficient oxygen use and endurance performance is optimized. So if you find you are teaching several RPM™ classes in one day, adding some greens into your daily diet may just help you finish strong. How can you do this?
Green Meal Ideas
Green Omelette: 2 whole eggs (+2 extra egg whites if you are really hungry), 1 cup of shredded baby spinach and rocket, 4 spears of asparagus and 1/3 cup of peas. Serve with ¼ avocado on a slice of grainy bread
Green Smoothie: 1.5 cups coconut water, 1 cup of shredded baby spinach, ¼ cup mint, 1 frozen banana, 1 green apple (or pear), ½ tsp chia seeds
Green Salad: Combine mixed salad greens, snow peas, roasted Brussels sprouts, 1/3 cup of chickpeas or quinoa and 6 green olives with 100-150g lean protein
Green Soup: Cook up a pot to make several serves. 1-2 cloves garlic, 1L stock, 1 pack of frozen spinach, ½ cup peas, 1 cup cooked chicken, 1 broccoli head, 1 tin drained/rinsed chickpeas, cracked pepper. Blitz to a smooth consistency and serve with a slice of grainy toast spread with ¼ avocado
Green Stir Fry: Loads of Asian greens (e.g. bok choy, broccoli, choy sum), 100-150g protein (prawns, fish, beef), tamari, ginger, garlic, chilli and basil. Serve with a scoop of brown rice.
NOTE: My meal ideas above are certainly taking the green theme to the max. Remember that a colourful plate is just as important.
Bottom line is that greens are a nutrition powerhouse. I think it’s pretty neat that green is also the symbol of GO! So get some greens into your diet and feel an increase in vitality and wellness that will make others green with envy!
Eat well, be well…
Lisa Donaldson (nee Simpson) is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and a Sports Nutritionist in Canberra. She currently teaches RPM™ and is also trained in BODYATTACK®, BODYPUMP® and Pilates. Lisa’s nutrition clinic is FEEDinc. located in Canberra www.FEEDinc.net