Lately, there has been a green craze sweeping the nation.  People are “going green” with their spending habits, behaviors, and even their diets.  You may have heard someone you know talk about how important it is for them to “get their greens in.” 

Rest assured, it’s not as crazy as it seems.  It can be as simple as making a few small dietary changes in the name of good health.  The following foods will make it easy for you to feel green (in a good way).

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1. Kale 

Kale has been trending in health & wellness circles for the past few years, and for good reason.  It is an extremely nutrient-dense food – essentially you get a lot of “bang for your buck.”  Additionally, kale is very filling without containing a ton of calories.  This makes it perfect for weight loss. 

Key nutrients found in kale include: vitamins A, C, & K, calcium, potassium, and fiber.  Keep in mind that greens rich in vitamin K (kale, spinach) can interact with certain blood thinners like warfarin.  If you take warfarin, you may want to limit your intake of leafy greens to one serving per day. 

Kale can be eaten raw, sautéed, or tossed into basically any cooked dish.

Source: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000729.htm

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2. Green Beans 

Let’s get this out of the way right away - green bean casserole is not included in this section. 

Green beans, when eaten raw or cooked, have a number of health benefits.  Like kale, green beans are a great source of vitamins A, C, & K. 

Another important nutrient found in green beans is folic acid, a B vitamin that assists the body in making healthy new cells.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285753.php#green_beans_health_benefits

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3. Spinach 

It seems like people have associated spinach with health (and terrible taste) since the dawn of time. 

Fortunately, only one of those is true. 

Spinach has an impressive array of health benefits.  For instance, one cup of cooked spinach actually has more potassium than one cup of banana.  This helps lower blood pressure.  It also contains an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid, which can help with managing diabetes. 

Spinach is a versatile food that can be prepared in a variety of tasty ways.  It can be used as a base for salads, cooked in olive oil, or included in omelets. 

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270609.php

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4. Avocado 

Avocado is a trendy food that has gained popularity in recent years.  Believe it or not, it can be much more than just a base for guacamole. 

Avocados are loaded with healthy fats that help lower bad cholesterol.  Like spinach, avocado has more potassium than bananas.  In addition, avocados are a great source of B vitamins, which aid in immune health. 

There is a very wide variety of uses for avocados which include: spreading them on toast, using them as an ingredient in wraps, putting them on sandwiches, and topping scrambled eggs with them.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/all-about-avocados

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5. Green Pepper  

Perhaps the most delicious food on this list is the green pepper.  Peppers are very low-calorie and add a burst of flavor to a ton of different dishes. 

Green peppers are a particularly good source of vitamin C, which is commonly used to prevent colds.  Green peppers also provide a great source of fiber, known for its ability to promote digestive health. 

Some recipes containing green peppers include: stuffed peppers, stir fry, and fajitas. 

Source: http://www.udc.edu/docs/causes/online/Pepper%2010.pdf

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6. Asparagus 

If you can get past the potential smells associated with consuming it, asparagus is a great healthy choice.  It is high in vitamins C, B6, & K, as well as folic acid.

The National Cancer Institute states that asparagus has the highest levels of glutathione, one of the body’s most potent cancer-fighting agents.  The best way to prepare asparagus is cooked in butter or olive oil with a bit of salt.

Source: http://www.calasparagus.com/ConsumerInformation/NutritionalInformation/index.html

If you incorporate even one of these six foods into your regular diet, you will be doing wonders for your health.  These foods may seem a little intimidating at first, but it doesn’t hurt to simply give them a try. 

There are many recipes out there that incorporate these foods into dishes that you may already enjoy.  Start small and work your way up.  Your body will thank you.  

Emily Vyverberg, Pharm.D., Pharmacist

Emily Vyverberg, Pharm.D., Pharmacist

Emily has worked at Hartig Drug for over 10 years (2 years as a pharmacy intern and now as a pharmacist).

She graduated from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 2009.

Emily lives in Dubuque, IA, and enjoys traveling, running, biking, kayaking, and cooking.