You’ve read that eating a rainbow can support and strengthen different functions of the body. This week, let’s go green.
The two words that have become a catchphrase for the eco-movement should be a new mantra for your diet. Eating fresh, local, organic greens can indeed help the environment, but the real benefit is how dark leafy greens can help your body. After all, it’ll be tough to save the world if you’re unhealthy!
One of the benefits of green fruits and vegetables is strengthening bones and teeth. Sound similar to milk? That’s because greens, particularly dark leafy greens, contain calcium just like your favorite dairy products. Many believe that the only ways to get calcium is to drink milk or take a supplement, and while those are great sources to build your bones, a yummy plate of boiled collard greens can contain just as much calcium as a glass of milk. In the U.S., milk has its own category in the food pyramid, but some don’t consume dairy for cultural reasons, health reasons, or personal beliefs (ie. a vegan diet). Whether you consume dairy or not, go green to provide enough calcium for your body!
Read the rest for more info on calcium and going green in your diet.
Unfortunately, many people don’t get as much calcium as they need, which can result in calcium deficiency. When someone is calcium deficient, bones “loan” calcium to the body and only gets restored through the diet. A diet low in calcium will not have enough to refill what was borrowed, eventually weakening bones and teeth, and even resulting in osteoporosis.
Women especially need to ensure that they get enough calcium in their bodies because of the higher risk of osteoporosis. Usually, a woman’s bone mass reaches maximum density between 25 to 35 years old. After that, bone loss increases. Ladies, if you don’t want any broken bones on the dance floor, make sure you get your fix of calcium!
Like many minerals, calcium provides more than one benefit, because calcium also helps muscles and nerves to function. If you’re an active athlete, calcium is a must.
It’s recommended that young women get 1000mg of calcium per day. As mentioned earlier, calcium doesn’t need to come from pills or dairy, because dark leafy greens are a great source. On top of that, vegetables contain fiber and other nutrients to help your body. Remember, the darker the leaf, the more nutrients it has.
These are some examples of greens that are good sources of calcium and other vitamins and minerals:
Seaweed (Kelp or Nori)
Swiss Chard or Rainbow Chard
Try out these tips to go green in your diet:
- Switch your salad. Forget about iceberg lettuce…make a salad with spinach or Swiss chard. Much more healthy and so much more appealing!
- Sneak in your greens. Add steamed greens, like spinach, kale, or chard, to your favorite pasta dish. Picky eaters can’t even tell!
- Wrap and roll. Instead of making a lettuce wrap, use a chard leaf to wrap and roll your favorite ingredients.
- Stir it up. Quickly stir-fry mustard greens, bok choy, or arugula with garlic, onions, and other colorful fruits and veggies and serve over brown rice.
- Soups and stews. Feeling sick? Add chicory or collard greens to your favorite soup for a healthier comfort food that will help your body feel good!
- Simple side dishes. Steam spinach or boil collard greens and top with a few squirts of lemon juice for a quick and easy side dish.
- Sauté away. Use a little bit of olive oil and onions and plenty of greens for a tasty dish that can be served with pasta or rice.
- Crunchy munchies. Rip kale into chip-size pieces and coat with a little bit of olive oil and coarse salt. Bake in the oven until crunchy (about 10 minutes) and you’ll have the healthiest chips ever!
- Presto pesto. Add spinach to your pesto recipe for a greener, healthier sauce.
Check here for more information on other foods that contain calcium.
As always, ask your doctor or nutritionist for the proper advice that fits your lifestyle.
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