5 Best Leafy Greens You Should Eat Every Day, Dietitians Say – Eat This Not That

We all know that vegetables are an integral part of a healthy diet. Not only are they packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, but they can also be easily incorporated into almost every meal.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 recommend that Americans vary their vegetable intake, pointing out dark green vegetables as a key category.

Whether you fold them into your omelet, toss them into a smoothie, or slip them into a burrito, dark green leaves are the perfect vehicle to add nutrients to any dish.

For more on the best leafy greens to eat every day, we checked out our advice from medical experts members Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFTalso known as The twins of nutrition. Read on to see what these dietitians had to say. Then, for more healthy eating tips, check out The #1 Best Vegetable for Lowering Blood Sugar.

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This leafy green probably isn’t part of your regular veggie rotation, but it should be.

“One of the reasons these greens are so powerful is that they help increase bile flowbreak down fats, aid digestion and supporting the liver, protecting it and helping it filter out potentially harmful chemicals of your food,” say the Nutrition Twins.

Packed with antioxidants like beta-carotene, dandelion greens have been shown to protect against cell damage, which may ultimately help fight chronic disease. Plus, their rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin support eye health, while their vitamin C and K content promotes bone health. And that’s not all these leafy greens can do.

“One of their true superpower qualities is that they are a rich source of prebioticsthanks to their inulin,” says The Nutrition Twin. ” They improve the intestinal production of “good” bifidobacteriawhich helps boost immune function and may even help prevent cancer.”

baby bok choy
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Bok choy is a cruciferous vegetablewhich means it belongs to the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

“Cruciferous Vegetables reduce the risk of cancer and contain carcinogen-fighting nutrients like vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, folate, and selenium, which have been shown to slow tumor growth,” state The Nutrition Twins.

In addition to being packed with bone-building vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin K, bok choy is high in quercetin, a flavonoid that has been linked to a reduction in inflammation and protection against chronic disease.

For a nutrient-dense meal, The Nutrition Twins suggest chopping up this leafy green and adding it to a jumped up.

Broccoli sprouts
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If you’ve had enough of broccoli, why not try broccoli sprouts?

These leafy greens are 3-5 day old broccoli plants with small green leaves that look like alfalfa sprouts. Although they offer the same number of calories and macronutrients as broccoli per ounce, they pack around 100 times more glucoraphanin.

“…when chewed or cut, [glucoraphanin] is converted to the superstar phytochemical sulforaphane, which has powerful anti-cancer effectsincluding promoting cancer cell death [and] reduce inflammation and sensitivity to cancer-causing toxins,” say the Nutrition Twins. “Sulforaphane increases detoxifying enzymes in your liver, and even may help turn off certain genes involved in cancer.”

fresh watercress
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This cruciferous vegetable has a slightly spicy, peppery flavor, as well as a host of health benefits.

According to a ranked list of “powerful fruits and vegetables,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) crowned watercress as the most nutrient dense vegetable. This means it packs the most nutrients in the fewest calories. Therefore, this green is especially useful when it comes to disease prevention and weight loss.

Additionally, The Nutrition Twins points out that cress contains high amounts of digestion-promoting fiber, immune-supporting vitamin C, disease-preventing glucosinates, and more.

“One of the particularities of this power station is its vitamin Kan extremely important (and overlooked) critical nutrient for bone health,” say The Nutrition Twins. “A single cup (34 grams) of watercress provides more than 100% of the [recommended daily intake] for vitamin K.”

Because this leafy green is so versatile, The Nutrition Twins recommends adding it to salads, soups, stir-fries, and even pizza.

fresh baby spinach
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Spinach is full of carotenoids, which help “sop up” free radicals known to create cell damage, explain The Nutrition Twins. They also note that research has shown these leafy greens protect against stomach, colonmouth and esophageal cancers.

As a rich source of potassium, spinach has been linked to lower blood pressure, while its lutein content has been linked to enhanced cognitive function. And beyond its nutritional benefits, this vegetable has a versatile flavor profile.

“Spinach is so sweet it looks like a chameleon, and it can be mixed with foods like smoothies and be undetectable, making it the perfect vegetable for people who have trouble enjoying greens,” say The Nutrition Twins.

RELATED: The #1 best food for lowering blood pressure, according to a new study

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