Over the last few years, health enthusiasts have touted the seemingly endless benefits of kale. This superfood is said to help digestion, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of developing certain cancers. But kale isn’t the only leafy green that does wonders for the body. Consider these three kale alternatives, which are all superfoods in their own right.
Before kale gained its popularity, spinach reigned supreme as the ultimate healthy green, and its health benefits haven’t changed. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins, providing your daily recommended amount of vitamins A and K in a 2-cup serving. In addition, spinach contains high levels of chlorophyll and the carotenoids beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Together, these phytochemicals contribute to reducing inflammation and fighting cancer.
Try using spinach in place of iceberg lettuce on sandwiches for extra nutrition. For a healthier take on rich creamed spinach, saute spinach leaves in extra virgin olive oil and garlic and lightly sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.
If you’re looking to stabilize your blood sugar, consider incorporating chard into your diet. Its leaves, which can be green or red, contain several kinds of polyphenol antioxidants. These include anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. A recent study also suggests that eating foods rich in anthocyanins decreases insulin levels and inflammation.
Saute chopped chard leaves and stems in olive oil with some minced garlic for a flavorful side dish. Both the leaves and the stems also make great additions to green smoothies and juices.
A relative of cabbage and broccoli, collard greens offer unique health benefits that scientists are only just starting to understand. A recent study compared steamed collard greens to cholestyramine, a prescription drug used to treat high cholesterol. The results found that regularly consuming steamed collard greens had an effect similar to that of the drug. These dark greens also contain high levels of glucosinolates, which contain cancer-fighting properties.
Prepare steamed collard greens by removing the leaves from the stem and placing them in a steam basket for five minutes in a pot with a little water over medium heat. Toss the steamed greens with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste.
While kale rightfully deserves its classification as a superfood, many similar vegetables are equally nutritious and offer unique health benefits of their own. Include a variety of greens in your diet to reap the full benefits of eating leafy greens.