As a parallel segment to Vegetarian Journal’s Nutrition Hotline feature, The VRG Blog runs a Nutrition Blog-line feature. In this installment, Julia Driggers, R.D., answers a question about leafy greens. This question comes to us by way of a number of people recently asking about the nutritional benefits of dark greens at VRG’s tables at events such as DC VegFest and the Baltimore Book Festival. If you would like to submit a nutrition question, you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of us know that we should eat our leafy greens, but how many of us know why? Dark greens are important because they are a good source of essential nutrients such as iron and calcium. common dark green leafy vegetables in the United States include spinach, collards, bok choy, kale, and turnip greens. In addition to iron and calcium, these green veggies are packed with other vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, fiber, and folate. However, each dark green leafy vegetable is unique and varies in nutrition content. It is important to vary your intake of all leafy greens, but if you are focused on increasing a specific nutrient in your diet, the table below can help.
|1 cup of Fresh Cooked, Boiled Vegetable||Vit.C (mg)||Iron (mg)||Calcium (mg)||Fiber (g)||Folate (mcg)|
**Although the calcium content in spinach appears high, it is not a good source of calcium. Spinach also contains oxalates which block the absorption of calcium in the spinach thus making spinach a poor source of calcium.
If you are focused on increasing your calcium, collards, turnip greens, and bok choy are excellent choices. In addition, good sources of folate (a nutrient particularly important for women of child bearing age and those who are pregnant) include spinach, collards, and turnip greens.
Won’t it feel better eating your greens now that you know how good they are for you? Enjoy your leafys and keep ‘em coming!
Here are a few other articles that you might also find helpful:
How to Cook Mouthwatering Greens: http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2001may/2001maygreens.htm
Calcium in the Vegan Diet: Calcium in the Vegan Diet: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/calcium.htm
Nutrition Hotline (Question #2, about calcium content in raw/cooked vs. frozen/cooked greens): http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2009issue3/2009_issue3_nutrition_hotline.php
Your body loves you,