Why greens are a 'must' in your diet

What people ask me:

- What can I eat to reduce aches, pains and inflammation?

- How can I help my hormone health?

- What foods can help my digestive health?

- What can I eat for the health of my liver?

- What foods could reduce my risk of cancer?

- How can I improve my eye health?

So why should you regularly eat greens….

Kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, turnips, spring greens, radish - the brassica veg.

This group of vegetables contain a wealth of valuable nutrients called phytonutrients or plant chemicals.
All plants obtain their energy from the sunlight for photosynthesis, however they also need to protect themselves from the oxidation effects of solar radiation. Plants need to produce antioxidants to survive and the more they have to 'struggle' the more of these chemicals they produce. We see oxidation when a cut apple turns brown; this is a chemical reaction where a molecule loses an electron and becomes a 'free radical'. Free radicals form continuously in our bodies during metabolic processes and these free radicals scavenge from cells in the body, causing damage to cellular DNA (hereditary material containing biological instruction for life), which promotes the development of chronic diseases. To counteract this exposure we need antioxidants from plant nutrients.

What special nutrients do these plants contain?

Glucosinolates are contained in all brassica veg and provide antioxidants (inhibit oxidation). These plant chemicals are released by an enzyme in the plant called myrosinase, which is activated by chewing and chopping and by bacteria in the colon and is broken down to isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, insole-3-carbinol; important phytonutrients that influence the healthy functioning of systems, particularly by activating detoxification enzymes.

They should be eaten raw or lightly steamed because over cooking reduces the level of nutrients. Those with thyroid health concerns can still eat brassica veg, by steaming them. Brassica veg also contain good levels of fibre, folates, lutein, zeaxanthin, sulphur, magnesium and iron.

Include brassicas in the diet daily to:

  • Reduce toxins in the system to decrease chronic inflammation which causes aches and pains.
  • Assist in converting used oestrogen (oestrogen metabolites) to less toxic forms, which can provide a protective effect against oestrogen dependant cancers and also aid the healthy balance of hormones.
  • Assist in producing nutrients for the health of the digestive tract and to encourage good bacteria to establish and proliferate, which encourages good digestive health.
  • Provide nutrients that induce a healthy balance of enzymes required for detoxification processes, particularly in the liver.
  • Supply antioxidant and detoxification promoting nutrients, which are very effective at reducing cancer forming processes.
  • Deliver lutein and zeaxanthin which reduce the development of eye health deterioration and macular degeneration.

There are many more attributes that can be assigned to these wonderful vegetables, not least protection from cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and last but not least they have a major role in weight management which will be a topic for next month’s blog – watch this space….

To help you identify and effectively manage health problems by diet changes, always contact a qualified nutritionist or nutritional therapist.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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