Why does it seem that the things that are the best for us, are always the most challenging to practice? When it comes to nutrition, thee foods that are the most health beneficial seem to be expensive, time consuming to prepare, or less than palatable. Off putting textures and flavors are also common characteristic of some of nature’s most nutrient dense foods. It is almost as if mother nature is trying to make us earn our good health. In my opinion, one of the most important subcategories within the world of powerhouse foods is the green stuff and more specifically, the green plants.
Just to be clear, I am not vegan or vegetarian. I believe that for most of us a diet consisting of a variety of responsibly sourced plant and animal products is necessary if we wish to reap the benefits of a well-balanced diet. With that being said however, I think that green plants from the sea and the land are among the most powerful foods on earth. They are such rich sources of so many vitamins, minerals, and other health optimizing nutrients. Whether your goal is to prevent disease, improve digestion, sleep more soundly, experience more consistent energy levels, reduce metabolic stress, improve physical and mental performance, or better your health in just about any possible way, a diet rich in the green stuff is one of the best approaches that you can take.
Some of the most important vitamins and minerals can be found in abundance across the plant kingdom, particularly in fibrous, leafy greens. Take fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) for example. Fat soluble vitamins are generally stored in the body for longer periods of time and are utilized by the body for a number of vital functions including cellular formation and hormone production. B Vitamins (B1, B6, B12, etc.) are tremendously beneficial in strengthening the immune system and well as the nervous system. B vitamins also support healthy hormone functioning, support healthy circulation, and even play a role in converting the food that we eat into energy. Magnesium, also found in great concentration among green plants, supports appropriate nerve and muscle function, supports immune system function, promotes bone health, plays a role in the regulation of blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure. Potassium which is necessary for fluid and electrolyte balance as well as general cellular function is another common component found in green plants. Zinc is another immune system supporter but it also supports healthy thyroid function as well as plays a major role in wound healing. Phosphorus is necessary for cell membrane generation as well as energy production. Manganese is yet another promoter of immune health, bone health, appropriate thyroid function, blood sugar regulation, and also plays a role in combating inflammation. The list goes on and on!
Although most of the above-mentioned vitamins and minerals can be found in other non-plant food sources, many times there are other considerations that need to be made in regards to the preparation and consumption of them, but that is another discussion altogether. There are, however, certain compounds called phytonutrients or phytochemicals that are only found only in plants, particularly common in dark, leafy green vegetables. The antioxidant power of these phytonutrients is believed to play a tremendous role in combating illness and disease of all types, ranging from the common cold to cancer and cardiovascular disease. So, if you are looking to enhance both the length and quality of your life, eating more of the green stuff is one of the simplest, most natural, and most effective measures that you can take. Health is wealth, let’s get rich together.
By Vic M.
B.S. Exercise Science, NSCA-CSCS Certified