In the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, we hope you’re wearing your green.
Second, we hope you drink some green beer today. (Health Disclaimer: Folks, today is clearly The Day when you can cut yourself some calorie-counting slack.)
In going along with today’s universal love for the luck o’ the Irish, note that the benefits of naturally green foods aren’t too shabby, either.
In specific, green foods like fruits and vegetables offer a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant power, and they’re rich in fiber.
As the experts of the Mayo Clinic point out, high fiber foods like apples, pears, peas, artichokes and broccoli help to regulate the digestive tract as well as promote heart health, potentially reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
"In general, the more naturally colorful a fruit or vegetable, the more nutrients it offers your body,” explained Rebecca Scritchfield, RD, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist and owner of Elite Nutrition. “Chlorophyll is a special phytonutrient that occurs in this category of foods and gives their green pigmentation. Other phytochemicals in green veggies include lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin and beta-carotene.”
Not sure what types of green foods to chomp on today? Here are some suggestions and reasons as to why the following are your best options, courtesy of Scritchfield:
- Consider green beans.
Green beans have carotenoids and flavonoids, which offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. (No, sadly fried green beans do not count in this context.)
- Go on and order that green pear salad.
“Pears are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and K, as well as copper,” Scritchfield advised. “They provide an easy and low calorie option. Pair the pears with nuts or cheese for a balanced snack. Skip the pre-packaged fiber bar, and opt for this natural fiber snack instead.”
- Get over that myth that brussel sprouts aren’t tasty.
(Tip: roast with garlic, EVOO, and salt and pepper until tender.)
One cup of brussel sprouts provides the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K and is jam packed with vitamin C -- in fact, that one cup offers more nutrient-based benefits than a vitamin C supplement.
- Get your fill of dark, leafy greens.
Fork up some greens, and you’ve got a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, E and K.
"Vitamins C and E serve as an antioxidant, while vitamin K is crucial for healthy clotting of blood. These leafy greens are also high in folate, calcium and iron, making them an important staple for growing kids and adults alike,” added Scritchfield.
These types of veggies are also chock full of folate, a nutrient that plays a necessary role in the body’s biological functions, like the development of cells and production of red blood cells.
How much fruits and veggies should you consume per meal? Scritchfield notes that piling up half of your plate with a wide variety of them will provide your body with a steady stream of needed energy.
So, to all of you currently dancing the Irish jig, raise your mugs of green beer and in a united chorus, sláinte. Cheers to a Happy St. Paddy’s Day, and may luck and good health be on your side.