Get to Know Your Leafy Greens

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Why is it so healthy to eat your veggies? Nearly all vegetables are saturated-fat-free, ultra-low in calories, high in dietary fiber, and rich in vitamins, minerals, essential phytonutrients and antioxidants. All of these known benefits help to strengthen your immune system and fight free radical toxins that contribute to premature aging, loss of vision, bone deficiency, digestive problems and even cancer.

However, not all veggies were created equal, so to speak, and some greens are greener (and better!) than others. Let’s get to know our greens, namely Spinach, Kale and Lettuce.

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SPINACH

           

SPINACH

This leafy green has been popularly known as Popeye’s favorite since the 1930s – eaten straight out of a can and shown to instantly give strength and stamina within just seconds.  While super-charged for strength, the truth is, it would take more than a few cans. To get the utmost benefits, spinach is best eaten fresh and raw. Spinach grows close to the ground and its spade-shaped leaves can be crinkly or smooth. Spinach leaves are tender, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. When choosing spinach from your neighborhood market, you should look for crisp evenly colored leaves. They should not be wilted, and make sure they are free of spots and slime.

RELATED: Peggy K’s Spinach-Beet Salad with Candied Walnuts

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Kale

KALE

Recently, kale has exploded in popularity.It is extraordinarily nutrient-rich, even among the other leafy green vegetables. Kale is a type of cabbage that grows loosely furled and distinctively ruffled leaves, rather than a head. It is slightly bitter in flavor, although this bitterness can be tempered by washing thoroughly, seasoning when cooking or by choosing younger leaves. It also takes well to frost and actually tastes sweeter after it has been “frost kissed”.

RELATED: Sesame Peanut Kale Chips

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Lettuce

LETTUCE

Lettuce is the most commonly used and widely available of the three greens mentioned here. There is a wide range of use for the lettuce, ranging from salads to side dish to sandwich add-on to taco fillings. In addition, there are a wide ranage of types, including the very popular iceberg and romaine. Its leaves have a wrinkly surface, are often lightweight and ruffled.The nutritional value varies, depending on where it is grown. Choose organic grown lettuceto ensure higher nutrient and mineral content. Lettuce tends to be fragile and should be consumed within a few days after harvest. When picking lettuce out in the market, again look out for the crisp ones and veer away from the wilted or slimy. It keeps best if it still has its roots. You can then leave it in a dish of water for it to keep longer. If no roots are present, wash thoroughly and shake off excess water, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate until you intend to eat it.

VIDEO: Veggie Lettuce Wraps

To better understand the actual dietary benefits of each,here is a comparative nutrient-based analysis on all three:

IMPORTANT   FACTORS

Based on a 1cup serving

SPINACH

KALE

LETTUCE
(raw, green leaf)

CALORIES

6.9

33.5

.7

DIETARY FIBER

.7 g

1.3 g

.1 g

SATURATED FAT

0

0

0

OMEGA 3

41.4   mg

121 mg

2.8 mg

MINERALS

Iron

Calcium

Magnesium

Phosphorus

Potassium

Sodium

 

    .8   mg

29.7 mg

23.7 mg

14.7 mg

167 mg

23.7 mg

 

  1.1   mg

90.5 mg

22.8 mg

37.5 mg

299 mg

28.8 mg

 

0

1.7 mg

  .6 mg

1.4 mg

9.2 mg

1.3 mg

VITAMINS

Vitamin A

Vitamin C

Vitamin E

Beta Carotene

Vitamin K

Folate

 

2813 IU

8.4 mg

     .6   mg

1688 mcg

145 mcg

58.2 mcg

 

10302 IU

80.4 mg

0

6182 mcg

547 mcg

19.4 mcg

 

352 IU

   .9   mg

0

211 mcg

 8.2   mcg

 1.8   mcg

Source: Nutritiodate.self.com

So you see, not all greens are made equal. Depending on your dietary needs, now you can choose which greens are best for you!

You might also like:
An Introduction to Kale
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Kale and Walnut Vinaigrette
3 Ways Juicing Can Help Weightloss
    

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Samantha Samonte

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Samantha Samonte is a writer for Culinary One, a blog about culinary careers, cuisines and food in all its scrumptious glory. She spends the rest of her time living life to the fullest in the company of her laptop and creative writing prowess. Follow her on Twitter: @theculinaryone

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