If you’re following the South Beach Diet lifestyle, you already know the importance of eating dark greens, which are rich in beta-carotene, folate, and vitamins C, E, and K, as often as possible.
Research shows that consuming dark leafy greens can promote good health by fighting the inflammation caused by free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules that can damage cells), lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease. In addition, dark greens in the Cruciferae family (a.k.a. cruciferous vegetables) — such as beet greens, bok choy, collard greens, kale, and Swiss chard to name just a few — have been found to help protect against macular degeneration and possibly help reduce age-related memory loss.
For better health, make a point to include these 10 dark green powerhouses in your diet:
- Beet greens
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Romaine and red-leaf lettuce
- Swiss chard
- Turnip greens
How Much Is Enough
The most recent dietary guidelines released in 2010 by the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommend that Americans fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal, and that includes dark leafy greens. On the South Beach Diet, we encourage you to enjoy even more vegetables than that. But the real point is that eating a wide variety of vegetables — green and all the other colors too — at as many meals as possible throughout the week will put you well on your way to getting a wide range of the essential nutrients you need for optimal health.