By now most of us know that for a healthy immune system and body it is wise to incorporate green foods into our diet every single day. I find it amazing that only 33 percent of us meet the recommendation for fruit consumption, and fewer than 30 percent of adults eat the recommended servings of vegetables. What many do not know is that eating fresh and live super green foods on a daily basis will give their immune system the extra “ump” it needs, especially during cold and flu season as well as other times when illness is going around.
The super green foods list below provides many extra benefits to the body such as anti-inflammatory components (inflammation is the beginning to all disease) as well as protection from many serious diseases. I highly suggest that these green foods be organic or purchased from your local farmers’ markets.
Ten Super Green Foods to Eat Every Day
1. Kale – Kale’s nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas which are antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates. Kale contains effective cholesterol-lowering ability and a definite role in supporting the body’s detoxification processes.
2. Avocado – Research shows that people who consume avocado on a regular basis weigh less and have a lower body mass index than non-consumers. Total fat intake, total monounsaturated fat intake, and total polyunsaturated fat intake was higher in people who eat avocado, even though overall calorie intake was not significantly different from those who do not eat avocado. Avocado has tremendous anti-inflammatory effects on the body, supports cardiovascular health, promotes blood sugar regulation and has anti-cancer benefits.
3. Green Tea – Green tea is the best food source of a group called catechins. In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including, skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder. Additional benefits for the regular consumption of green tea includes a reduced risk for heart disease. The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea, compared to non-consumers of tea. (1)
4. Bell Peppers – Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C at a whopping 117 milligrams per cup — more than twice the amount of vitamin C found in a typical orange. Bell pepper is also a good source of vitamin E. In addition to these antioxidant vitamins, bell pepper is also a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese. Alongside of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components of bell peppers’ anti-cancer benefits there is a second component. This second component involves the metabolism of sulfur compounds in bell pepper, and in particular the metabolism of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. Several recent studies have taken a close look at the presence of enzymes in bell peppers called cysteine S-conjugate beta-lyases and their role in a sulfur-containing metabolic pathway called the thiomethyl shunt. These enzymes and this pathway may be involved in some of the anti-cancer benefits that bell pepper has shown in some animal and lab studies.(2)
5. Brussels Sprouts – Brussels sprouts provide special nutrient support for three body systems that are closely connected with cancer development as well as cancer prevention. These three systems are the body’s detox system, its antioxidant system, and its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. Brussels sprouts are an important dietary source of many vitamin antioxidants, including vitamins C, E, and A (in the form of beta-carotene). The antioxidant mineral manganese is also provided by Brussels sprouts. Most people do not realize that 100 calories’ worth of Brussels sprouts (about 1.5 cups) provides about 430 milligrams of the most basic omega-3 fatty acid (called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) which definitely boosts it’s anti-inflammatory benefits. Brussels sprouts also provide cardiovascular support and digestive tract support.
6. Kiwi – Research indicates that kiwi protects DNA in the nucleus of human cells from oxygen-related damage. Kiwi is an excellent source of vitamin C. Kiwi also provides a good amount of fiber which may provide help with blood sugar control, cardiovascular health as well as colon health. Kiwi may help protect against respiratory symptoms such as wheezing from asthma. Kiwi also is beneficial to eye health.
7. Green Beans – Along with important amounts of the antioxidant mineral manganese, green beans contain a wide variety of carotenoids (including lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin) and flavonoids (including quercetin, kaemferol, catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins) that have all been shown to have health-supportive antioxidant properties. Green beans are also another vegetable that contains omega-3 fatty acids which makes an important contribution to their cardiovascular and anti-flammatory benefits.
8. Cucumbers – Cucumbers are now known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol—three lignans that have a strong history of research in connection with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several cancer types, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Cucumbers are also a rich source of triterpene phytonutrients called cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins A, B, C, D and E are all contained in fresh cucumber. A second group of cucumber phytonutrients known to provide anti-cancer benefits are its lignans. The lignans pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol have all been identified within cucumber. Interestingly, the role of these plant lignans in cancer protection involves the role of bacteria in our digestive tract. When we consume plant lignans like those found in cucumber, bacteria in our digestive tract take hold of these lignans and convert them into enterolignans like enterodiol and enterolactone. Enterolignans have the ability to bind onto estrogen receptors and can have both pro-estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects. Reduced risk of estrogen-related cancers, including cancers of the breast, ovary, uterus, and prostate has been associated with intake of dietary lignans from plant foods like cucumber.(3)
9. Green Olives – Olives are technically classified as fruits. The high monounsaturated fat content of olives is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent research studies also indicate that the monounsaturated fat found in olives (and cold-pressed olive oil) can help to decrease blood pressure. Green olives offer a diverse range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients and provide potent anti-oxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits to the body.
10. Spinach – Spinach is among the world’s healthiest vegetables and comes out on top of in ranking for nutrient richness. Rich in vitamins and minerals, spinach is concentrated in phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids which provide the body with powerful antioxidant protection. Spinach also helps to protect protect the body against inflammatory concerns, oxidative stress-related concerns, cardiovascular concerns, bone concerns, and cancers at the same time.
With a little practice, the super green foods listed above are very easy to incorporate into your daily diet especially if you like smoothies. Many of these green foods grow well in small gardens and container gardens making them very budget friendly. Keep in mind that super green foods not only benefit and improve the health and function of your intestinal tract, but also fill in nutritional gaps in your diet and provide powerful protection against many health issues.
Research and Reference
1. Benefits of Drinking Green Tea: The proof is in — drinking tea is healthy says Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch. http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefit_of_drinking_green_tea
2. Health Benefits of Bell Peppers. http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=50
3. Health Benefits of Cucumbers. http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=42