This week, I wanted to write about the importance of dark (amazing and nutritious) leafy greens! I am not so sure people get as excited about greens as I do, but hopefully after reading this post you will be inspired to find the green chef hiding inside of you.
Americans consume (on average) over 150 POUNDS of sugar, vs. 8 pounds of broccoli per year! About 30-40 pounds of this said sugar comes from known sources (the treats we eat, sugar in beverages etc..) but the remainder of that number comes from sugar hiding in your diet. Yes, hiding behind words such as corn sugar (formerly known as High Fructose Corn Syrup ), dextrose, maltose, any dairy ingredient and so many more is translating to your body as....SUGAR.
In my personal wellness program, I try to stress the importance of becoming a Food Detective. This simple tool alone will help shift your thinking and improve your health. All it takes is to read the ingredients list of what you are eating (not the nutrition label listing calories, protein, fat etc..the actual list of stuff) and ask yourself some questions such as:
• Do I clearly understand all that is listed on this label?
• Does the label have anything on it that I can’t pronounce?
• How many times is sugar listed on the label (look for the many names of sugar!)
• Are there "artificial" AND/OR "natural" flavors?
• Are there more than ten listed ingredients, and if so, how many are food based?
• Is soy listed as an ingredient (ie: soybean oil, soy lecithin etc.-if so, is it organic?)
Two very important quick notes (which I have written about before) but would like to stress:
1) If lemon, orange or berries were used in a given product, the label will read "lemon, orange or berries" NOT "natural lemon flavors". Note to self: “Natural flavors” are far from natural.
2) Soy is one of three top genetically modified crops in our country. At the levels in which we consume it and the way we consume it (young, unfermented, inorganic, GMO soy beans..) it is extremely toxic. Asian traditions consumed fermented soy, in limited quantities (which is in fact, actually healthy). However, we are getting a dose of this unhealthy form of soy in almost every single packaged product on the market- take a look at your labels to find out for yourself.
Now, I have digressed...back to the point of this blog: dark, leafy GREEEEENS
Dark greens you say? As in spinach? YES! Spinach as well as other beauties like kale, chards, collards...
Eating greens is a way to combat all the CRAP we consume daily. Even adding in one serving of dark green, daily can make a huge impact on your health. Dark, leafy greens are super rich in vitamins E, C, A, K, not to mention chlorophyll, fiber and more.
Dark greens help to detoxify the blood and help your body reduce acidity (caused by too much acid forming foods like sugar, meat, dairy...). Greens help to create a glowing complexion and can also help to thin the blood naturally. If you are like me, and suffer from menstrual pain eating lots of greens a week prior to your period will help to thin your blood, reduce bloating and ease the pain of menstrual cramps. (Necessary disclosure: If you are on any medications, especially blood thinners, make sure to discuss Rx reduction with your doctor!)
For these reasons and so much more. Dark greens are truly amazing. The green color itself represents life, spring, renewal. In ancient traditions such as Ayurveda, the color green is a symbol of balance and represents the Fourth Chakra (the heart Chakra) which governs our ability to live our life full of love! I like to imagine my greens as an internal rain forest for my body, so purifying and cleansing!
Below are 3 easy ways you can start digging into dark greens:
1) Add in 2-5 large leaves of kale to a berry, banana smoothie. 2) In your daily salads, make sure to chop up at least 1 large dark green and mix it in with the traditional, nutrition-less iceberg or spring mix base. Try to add more dark greens each time, until you have a dreamy green base. 3) Sauté some washed, chopped dark greens with lots of garlic and onions for a savory side dish!
Aim to try at least ONE of these things over the next week and you will be on your way to becoming a green machine!
Check out this link to hear more about the benefits of dark, leafy greens as well as some of my other favorite Medicinal Foods!