Nutritionally, the leafy greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll. Some of the benefits of eating dark leafy greens are: blood purification; cancer prevention; improved circulation; strengthened immune system; promotion of healthy intestinal flora; improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function; and cleared congestion, especially in lungs by reducing mucus.
A good rule of thumb is the heavy tough greens should be cooked, the thinner, lighter ones can be eaten raw. Cruciferous vegetables (all the cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, mustard greens, etc.) contain goitrogens which can interfere with thyroid function. Cooking or fermenting, as in sauerkraut, destroys these anti-nutrients. Spinach, swiss chard and beet greens are best eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid, which is not destroyed by cooking, and which depletes calcium from bones and teeth and may lead to osteoporosis.
And one more word of caution: greens are high in fiber. It’s a big part of what they have to offer. But, if you experience a lot of intestinal or digestive problems—gas, bloating, diarrhea, IBS, Crohn’s—you may want to skip the high fiber foods until you’ve done some gut healing. High fiber foods will only further irritate your intestinal lining.
Remember when you were a kid and wouldn’t eat your cauliflower without cheese sauce? That was your body being wiser than you knew. All vegetables should be consumed with healthy fats to help carry the minerals and other nutrients into the body. Of course, cheese sauce made from velveeta doesn’t count as real food or healthy anything, but lots of butter and/or cheese, or hollandaise is definitely recommended!
I was a kid that always had to be enticed to eat my veggies. Now that farmers markets, and even grocery stores, offer such an amazing diversity, and I’ve been given permission to enhance them with lots of yummy sauces, I love incorporating green into almost all of my meals. Even breakfast? Sure, throw a few pieces of asparagus, or some julienned kale into your eggs, or try a green smoothie for a boost of nutrients and energy to start the day right. You might just like green eggs and ham ;)