The Health Benefits of Leafy Greens

The Health Benefits of Leafy Greens

10 Health Benefits of Kale
March 16, 2020

Content sourced from Consumer Report – Health

Each type has unique nutrients, flavors, and textures

Leafy greens are among the healthiest foods you could eat. They’re also one of the top sources of bacteria that cause foodborne illness, as a new investigation from Consumer Reports shows.

Given the concerns about contamination, you may be tempted to cut greens out of your diet. But that would be a shame.

Nutritionists agree that the health benefits are substantial. In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that calculated nutrient density for almost 50 fruits and vegetables, 17 of the top 20 were leafy greens. Research shows that a diet that contains plenty of leafy greens is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, macular degeneration, and type 2 diabetes. They may also help to keep memory sharp as a person ages.

There are several ways to serve up safer greens, and cooking will kill harmful bacteria. Eat a variety of types: Most greens have a healthy nutritional profile, but each kind also has its individual superpowers.



Arugula is rich in vitamin K, which helps to prevent osteoporosis and inflammatory disease. Like other cruciferous veggies (i.e., broccoli and brussels sprouts), it has glucosinolates, which may protect against certain cancers. It’s tasty in salads or sautéed.



Though it ranks toward the bottom of the greens list nutritionally, it still provides some potassium, vitamin C, and folate.



Turn to kale for vitamins C and K, lutein and zeaxanthin (which may help to protect against age-related macular degeneration and possibly cataracts), and cancer-fighting glucosinolates. Use baby and mature kale in salads; the latter can also be cooked in soup or pasta.


Red or Green Leaf

Both are rich in vitamins A and K; green leaf is higher in vitamin C. Red leaf lettuce gets its color from the flavonoid antioxidant anthocyanin, which may help to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.



Beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A, and folate are its standout nutrients. It’s best in salads or on sandwiches that need crunch, and can also stand up to a quick grilling.



This green supplies a hefty dose of vitamin K, potassium, and folate. If you eat it cooked, it will also supply iron and calcium. The oxalic acid it contains reduces absorption of these minerals from raw spinach, but cooking breaks down oxalic acid.


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