Greens: Good for the Liver, Immune System, Gut, and More

The list of beneficial properties offered by greens is long and includes:

  • Improving circulation
  • Promoting healthy gut flora
  • Improving liver function
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Clearing congestion

Greens provide a whole host of valuable nutrients, micronutrients, and phytonutrients. Chlorophyll (found in all green vegetables) is a powerful blood builder akin to liquid oxygen!

If you are trying to get pregnant, you can benefit from the high folate content in greens. And if you need to increase your calcium intake, leafy greens beats milk because it doesn’t put the body into an acidic state the way dairy does. Here are some greens with significant amounts of calcium:

  • Cooked beet greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Carsley
  • Watercress

Try a variety of methods such as steaming, boiling, sautéing in oil, water sautéing, waterless cooking or lightly pickling, as in a pressed salad.

  • Boiling makes greens plump and relaxed. Boil for less than a minute so the nutrients in the greens don’t get lost in the water. If you’re using organic greens, drink the cooking water as a health-giving broth or tea!
  •  Steaming makes greens more fibrous and tight, which is great if you’re trying to lose weight. Raw salad is also a wonderful preparation for greens. It’s refreshing, cooling, and supplies live enzymes.

Get into the habit of adding the following leafy green veggies to your daily diet, and notice what happens to your energy levels, your complexion, and your waistline.

If you have some garden space, why not try growing your own?

What Does the Gut Have to Do with It?

Along with the garden in your backyard, there’s also a “garden” in your gut, and it’s comprised of a complex network of trillions of microorganisms that work together to help you maintain vibrant health and achieve permanent weight loss. This is because of their influence on metabolism, appetite regulation, energy expenditure, endocrine regulation, inflammation, and insulin resistance. In fact, the influence is so strong that studies show that imbalanced gut flora contributes to obesity.

To prime your gut to work with nature and help reboot your system—and replenish your microflora, load up on leafy greens. An exciting discovery out of Australia suggests that due to an unusual sugar molecule found in them (sugar sulfoquinovose, or SQ), leafy greens are essential for feeding good gut bacteria. SQ evidently limits the ability of bad bacteria to colonize the gut by shutting them out of the prime “real estate.”

Your Healthiest Option

As always, I recommend you purchase ORGANIC fruit and vegetables as they are better for your health (and the health of the environment)! If it’s not in your budget to do this, consult the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list and prioritize buying organic for these fruits and veggies—they are the ones sprayed with the highest amount of pesticides

Spicy Turnip Greens

Turnip greens are crazy high in calcium (one cup cooked provides 20% of your daily requirement) and an excellent source of Vitamins C and E. They are bitter, so you can optionally add a pinch of coconut sugar to soften the punchy flavors!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 2 bell peppers cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 pound turnip greens, cleaned and chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to preference)

Directions

1.    Drizzle olive oil into skillet over medium heat.
2.    Add onion, bell peppers and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes.
3.    Add ½ of turnip greens. Cook down the water and add remaining greens.
3.    Adjust the amount of red pepper to taste.
4.    Pairs beautifully with grilled salmon or roasted chicken.