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Green Foods - A Key to Health

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When seeing a patient for the first time I often send them home with a diet diary.  This is an excellent way for a person to reflect on the choices they make and how nutrition affects how  they feel.  A predominant observation I have reviewing it with them is the lack of green foods present in their diet. Our green veggies and fruits are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, fiber, water and low in sugar. Their benefit to our overall heal th is extensive, however there are a few key ones that we should perhaps find ways into our diets more often. 

Dark green leafy veggies such as spinach, lettuce and chard are high in iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamins K, A and C.  They are recommended during pregnancy due to their high amount of folic acid, which prevents neural tube defects and cleft palate in newborns. Herbs used in cooking are also useful greens. 

Cilantro has been shown to support heavy metal toxin removal.  Parsley is a useful green herb that is high in minerals and is a natural diuretic. 

My favourite greens are the cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.  These are considered super foods as they contain an isothiocyanate called Sulforaphane that is a potent antioxidant and detoxifies the liver.  This powerful phytochemical is associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, and can slow the growth of cancer cells as well as support tumour cell death.

Avocado is an amazing fruit that has more potassium than a banana, is high in essential fatty acids and assists in decreasing inflammation and cholesterol. Tart green apples are a crispy high water content fruit rich in flavonoids, vitamins and minerals that can help fight obesity, reduce cholesterol and prevent strokes. Green olives are high in vitamin E, antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and fiber. They are good for the cardiovascular system, prevent certain types of cancer, and their polyphenols have shown to improve bone health.

Getting the greens you need

While we should be having at least 2 ½ cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruits per day, most of us can admit we don’t get enough.  If you’re finding it difficult to get the greens you need perhaps consider a Green food powder.  These powders are packed with dried forms of foods and contain concentrated amounts of their beneficial phytochemicals.  They often include blue green algae, Spirulina and chlorella, that carry multiple benefits including detoxing the gut, removing heavy metals and providing a source of B12. 

Green food can be easier to get into your diet than you think.  The best forms are either fresh or frozen.  Fresh purchased in season locally and organic contain the most nutrients. They can be incorporated into almost any dish.  Try blending or juicing green leafy veggies into a smoothie recipe.  Cruciferous veggies are delicious cooked or blended into a sauce.  Avocados and olives make lovely spreads and dips or are tasty in salads.

When Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine, let medicine be thy food” it is certain he knew green foods were top of the list.  As we head into the spring, consider growing these wonderful foods and consciously consuming more, for it will surely lend to better health.