Article by Nicole Raebel, Live Well Winona Intern
Green is the color of March!
Although legendary Groundhog “Punxsutawney Phil” cursed us last month with an estimated six more long weeks of winter, the month of March is going to bring the promising color of green back into our lives. After this excruciating winter we have endured, it may feel like the color green will never again return to the roaring bluffs of Winona. But with the month of March comes the first day of spring, and begins the hopefulness of a snow-melting heat wave that will reveal the some-what green grass that lies beneath many feet of snow.
As the color green begins to reenter our lives outdoors, it comes as a reminder to keep greens alive in our diets.
There are many health and dietary benefits to routine consumption of dark and leafy greens or vegetables. Here are just a few:
- Vitamins. Leafy greens and vegetables contain necessary dietary vitamins such as:
- Vitamin A – Necessary for normal vision, immune function, reproduction.
- Vitamin C – Protects against cell damage, boosts the immune system, forms collagen in the body.
- Vitamin K – Important in blood clotting and bone health.
- Folate – Key for the development of cells, protein metabolism and heart health; in pregnant women, helps prevent birth defects.
- Minerals. These power foods also are great sources of necessary minerals such as:
- Iron – Key component of red blood cells and many enzymes.
- Potassium – Important in maintaining normal fluid balance, helps control blood pressure, and reduces risk of kidney stones.
- Calcium – Essential for bone growth and strength, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and the transmission of nerve signals.
- Fiber. Leafy greens and vegetables are a great choice to fulfill your necessary daily intake of fiber. Fiber helps with digestion and the maintenance of blood sugar levels; reduces the risk of heart disease Just a half-cup of these dark greens a day can fulfill your daily dose!
- Disease prevention. In recent years, studies have shown that regular consumption of dark leafy greens or vegetables can prevent certain types of cancer and promote heart health.
Looking for a delicious way to increase your leafy green and vegetable intake in your diet to gain all of these great benefits? Here are a few great ideas:
- Make a salad: Leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, spinach and arugula taste great when mixed in a salad with different kinds of veggies, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and lettuce.
- Wrap it up: Make a wrap with tuna, chicken, or turkey and add romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, and other veggies for some extra flavor.
- Add to a soup: Try mixing leafy greens such as collard greens, kale or mustard greens into your favorite soup.
- Stir-fry: Add chopped leafy greens or broccoli to your stir-fry. Chicken or tofu stir-fried with olive or canola oil and your favorite dark green vegetable is delicious!
- Add to an omelet: Try adding in steamed broccoli and/or spinach to an egg-white omelet for a vitamin and iron rich meal.
- Steam it: Try steaming collard greens, kale, or spinach. Add water to a pot and place a steamer with the vegetables into it. Next, bring the water to a simmer, cover with a lid, and wait a few minutes until your vegetables are slightly soft.
Don’t let the cold and snow laid ground of Winona keep you from remembering the color green! Keep dark, leafy greens and vegetables on your plate and in your daily diet. Just a half-cup a day can provide you with the many dietary and health benefits that these greens hold. It can be as simple as throwing a handful of greens in your daily salad, pasta, sandwich or egg breakfast.
So let the month of March’s celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day and the promise of the first day of spring this month be reminders to us Minnesotans to keep the color green in our thoughts and on our plates!
Check out the sources below for more information and for some recommended nutrient and health benefits of these power-filled leafy greens: