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Health Information Getting Your Greens

There's been a lot of talk about making cities, buildings and cars more "green," but what about making your diet greener? With just a few changes you can make this often neglected food group a more prominent part of your plate.

"Green-leafy vegetables are just amazing for all the nutrition and fiber that they provide, for so few calories," says Melissa Greives, MS, RD, a clinical dietitian at Rush. "These vegetables are high in vitamin A, C and calcium. They also provide a lot of soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol and can decrease your cancer risk."

Greives reports that an added bonus of eating more vegetables is the fiber can help you feel satisfied longer, because the nutrients remain in the stomach longer with the fiber. "The satisfied feeling can also lead to decreased caloric consumption and ultimately weight loss," she says.

Vegetables should make up the majority of your plate. A good rule of thumb is for half of the plate to be vegetables with the other half left for equal parts protein and starch. "You can devote a quarter of the plate to green leafy vegetables, like spinach or a simple salad, and another quarter to other vegetables, such as grilled peppers or squash," says Greives.

"One thing that you have to be aware of when cooking vegetables, the vitamins can leach out into the water," says Greives. "Whenever possible, eat vegetables raw or lightly steamed rather than cooked immersed in water."

Some ideas for adding greens to your diet:
 

  • Start lunch and dinner meals with a salad
  • Add greens to sandwiches and "wraps"
  • Add green vegetables to soups and chili
  • Make more stir-frys with heavy emphasis on vegetables
    • If you include meat, use it sparingly
  • Add frozen vegetables to spaghetti sauce and macaroni to add more nutrition and color
  • Make a quick and tasty dish by sautéing greens with vegetable oil and light seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic, etc.)

Some common greens for salads and sandwiches:
 

  • Arugula
  • Mesclun mix (or "spring mix")
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Watercress

Some greens for steaming, sautéing and stir-frying:
 

  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Chinese broccoli
  • Mustard greens
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens

"My suggestion is to go for the green vegetables first," says Greives. "You'll feel more satisfied and you'll be getting lots of fiber and nutrition."


More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For more information about nutritional services at Rush visit our Food and Nutritional Services home page.
  • Do you need a dietitian? Call 312 942-DIET (312 942-3438)
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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