Of course, we have all heard the idiom, ‘eat your greens.’ And it is one that I agree with. Long before I ate a vegan diet, I would sauté broccoli or bok choy for breakfast. I’m not sure if it is the health benefits, the taste, or the colour that appeals to me. Green is said to represent the colour of nature, new growth, health and harmony. The green vegetables that we can consume in our diet offer such wonderful nutrients, they are undoubtedly beneficial to our health - and our wellbeing.
Chlorophyll is the pigment responsible for the rich green colour in many of our vegetables. It is vital for the process of photosynthesis, which allows plants to absorb energy from light. In our own body, it has a similar role. Chlorophyll supports our energy levels by assisting the red blood cells and flushing out toxins. Leafy greens, brassica vegetables and seaweeds are all high in chlorophyll. Many green vegetables can be grown and consumed all year round, including in the winter. They are versatile, easy to add to a variety of dishes, and offer an array of beneficial nutrients.
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, silverbeet and kale are rich in an array of nutrients. A source of both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) it can be particularly beneficial to massage your greens in oil before roasting (think kale chips) or serve with olive oil, avocado, nuts or seeds so that you can absorb the array of vitamins available. Spinach is a rich source of magnesium, wonderful for reducing inflammation, soothing the nervous system and supporting a restful night's sleep. It is during our beauty sleep that our cells repair themselves, which is one reason sleep is so beneficial to our bodies. Many leafy greens are also rich in vitamin A, which is essential for skin repair and improving skin tone, and vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that is essential for wound healing and collagen synthesis, and that may help with hyper-pigmentation and photo-damaged skin.
Cruciferous vegetables support the function of your liver and improve detoxification pathways. Our bodies have a 2-part detoxification system, so it is important that both pathways are functioning optimally. Compromised pathways can lead to the recycling of excess hormones and toxins in the body, leading to conditions such as pre-menstrual syndrome, an imbalanced cholesterol ratio and congested or inflamed skin. Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts and arugula (rocket). They are also a source of sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a sulphur-based phytochemical that is an anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant and is a wonderful support for the liver and detoxification pathways.
Seaweeds or sea vegetables are the ocean's leafy greens. Technically algae, not a vegetable, seaweed has an impressive nutritional profile. Seaweed is the best source of natural iodine, an essential trace element that is important for thyroid and hormonal health and includes all the cofactors necessary for the body to use iodine including zinc, selenium, and vitamin A and vitamin B’s. Seaweed contains most vitamins, including vitamin B12 and calcium, making it a wonderful nutrient-rich option for those following a vegan diet. Rich in minerals, seaweed also helps to rehydrate the body and regulate blood sugars. More specifically, kombu and kelp are rich in iodine, nori and wakame are excellent sources of iodine and vitamin B12, and ea lettuce is rich in iodine and iron.
Green powders are another way to increase greens in your diet, we have two different formulas available in-store and online. Welleco’s Super Elixir Greens is formulated to support wellness and vitality and reduce the effect of stress, fatigue and premature aging. Super Elixir Greens offers an alkalising blend that includes barley grass, wheat grass, alfalfa, spinach, spirulina, broccoli and kelp. The Beauty Chef’s Cleanse - Inner Beauty Powder is formulated to assist detoxification, balance gut health and promote a clear complexion. Cleanse offers an alkalising blend that includes barley grass, wheat grass, chlorella, broccoli sprouts, spinach, nettle, alfalfa, collard greens and kale.
This is one of my favourite green-boosting recipes, as featured on Goop and written by Elissa Goodman.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 leek chopped
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped broccoli stalks and florets
1 cup butternut or acorn squash
2 cups fresh spinach or silverbeet or kale
1L organic vegetable broth
1 cup organic coconut milk
1 tablespoon hemp seeds per cup of soup
- Add coconut oil to a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, and leeks and sauté until the onion and leek are softened and translucent.
- Add the garlic, bell pepper, broccoli, and squash and continue to sauté for additional 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, and fresh spinach, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- In batches, carefully add soup mix into a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust seasoning and garnish with hemp seeds and fresh herbs.
Written by Natasha Lubas, Naturopath & Medical Herbalist