By now, most of us know that to have a healthy immune system and body, it’s wise to incorporate super green foods into our diet every day. I find it amazing that only 33 percent of us meet the recommendation for fruit consumption, and fewer than 30 percent of adults eat the recommended servings of vegetables. Consuming fresh, super green foods daily will give your immune system the extra “ump” it needs, especially during cold and flu season and other times when illness is going around.
The super green foods list below provides many extra benefits to the body, such as anti-inflammatory components (inflammation is the beginning of all disease) and protection from many serious diseases. I highly suggest that these green foods be organic or purchased from your local farmers’ markets.
Ten Super Green Foods to Eat Every Day
Kale’s nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas: antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates. Kale contains effective cholesterol-lowering ability and a definite role in supporting the body’s detoxification processes.
Research shows that people who consume avocado regularly weigh less and have a lower body mass index than non-consumers. Total fat intake, total monounsaturated fat intake, and total polyunsaturated fat intake were higher in people who eat avocado, even though overall calorie intake was not significantly different from those who do not eat avocado. Avocado has tremendous anti-inflammatory effects on the body, supports cardiovascular health, promotes blood sugar regulation, and has anti-cancer benefits.
3. Green Tea
Green tea is the best food source of a group called catechins. In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder. Additional benefits for the regular consumption of green tea include a reduced risk for heart disease. The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and improve artery function. A Chinese study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk in regular consumers of oolong or green tea than non-consumers of tea. (1)
4. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C at a whopping 117 milligrams per cup — more than twice the amount of vitamin C found in a typical orange. Bell pepper is also a good source of vitamin E. In addition to these antioxidant vitamins, bell pepper is also a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese. There is a second component of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components of bell peppers’ anti-cancer benefits. This second component involves the metabolism of sulfur compounds in bell pepper and the metabolism of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. Several recent studies have taken a close look at the presence of enzymes in bell peppers called cysteine S-conjugate beta-lyases and their role in a sulfur-containing metabolic pathway called the thiomethyl shunt. These enzymes and this pathway may be involved in some of the anti-cancer benefits that bell pepper has shown in some animal and lab studies. (2)
5. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts provide special nutrient support for three body systems closely connected with cancer development and cancer prevention. These three systems are the body’s detox system, its antioxidant system, and its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. Brussels sprouts are an important dietary source of many vitamin antioxidants, including vitamins C, E, and A (in the form of beta-carotene). Brussels sprouts also provide the antioxidant mineral manganese. Most people do not realize that 100 calories’ worth of Brussels sprouts (about 1.5 cups) provides about 430 milligrams of the most basic omega-3 fatty acid (called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) which definitely boosts its anti-inflammatory benefits. Brussels sprouts also provide cardiovascular support and digestive tract support.
Research indicates that kiwi protects DNA in human cells’ nucleus from oxygen-related damage. Kiwi is an excellent source of vitamin C. Kiwi also provides a good amount of fiber, which may provide help with blood sugar control, cardiovascular health, and colon health. Kiwi may help protect against respiratory symptoms such as wheezing from asthma. Kiwi also is beneficial to eye health.
7. Green Beans
Along with important amounts of the antioxidant mineral manganese, green beans contain a wide variety of carotenoids (including lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin) and flavonoids (including quercetin, kaempferol, catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins) that have all been shown to have health-supportive antioxidant properties. Green beans are also another vegetable that contains omega-3 fatty acids which makes an important contribution to their cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Cucumbers are now known to contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol—three lignans with a strong history of research in connection with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several cancer types, including breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Cucumbers are also a rich source of triterpene phytonutrients called cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins A, B, C, D, and E are all contained in fresh cucumber. The second group of cucumber phytonutrients known to provide anti-cancer benefits is its lignans. The lignans pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol have all been identified within cucumber. Interestingly, these plant lignans’ role in cancer protection involves the role of bacteria in our digestive tract. When we consume plant lignans like those found in cucumber, bacteria in our digestive tract take hold of these lignans and convert them into enterolignans like enterodiol and enterolactone. Enterolignans have the ability to bind onto estrogen receptors and can have both pro-estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects. Reduced risk of estrogen-related cancers, including cancers of the breast, ovary, uterus, and prostate, has been associated with intake of dietary lignans from plant foods like cucumber. (3)
9. Green Olives
Olives are technically classified as fruits. The high monounsaturated fat content of olives is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent research studies also indicate that the monounsaturated fat found in olives (and cold-pressed olive oil) can decrease blood pressure. Green olives offer a diverse range of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients and provide potent anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory benefits to the body.
Spinach is among the world’s healthiest vegetables and comes out on top of in ranking for nutrient richness. Rich in vitamins and minerals, spinach is concentrated in phytonutrients such as carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin) and flavonoids which provide the body with powerful antioxidant protection. Spinach also helps to protect the body against inflammatory concerns, oxidative stress-related concerns, cardiovascular concerns, bone concerns, and cancers simultaneously.
With a little practice, the super green foods listed above are effortless to incorporate into your daily diet, especially healthy smoothies, and raw smoothies. Many of these green foods grow well in small gardens and container gardens, making them very budget-friendly. Keep in mind that super green foods not only benefit and improve your intestinal tract’s health and function – where most of your immune system resides – but als0 fill in nutritional gaps in your diet providing powerful protection against many health concerns and illnesses.
Research and Reference
1. Benefits of Drinking Green Tea: The proof is in — drinking tea is healthy, says Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch. http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefit_of_drinking_green_tea
2. Health Benefits of Bell Peppers. http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=50
3. Health Benefits of Cucumbers. http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=42