When I began working on this challenge my goal was to get our community (and myself) to eat more dark leafy greens (DLG’s). The benefits of eating these foods are far reaching and if we can make a habit of eating them, health and wellness will absolutely follow. Learning to prepare DLG’s in a tasty and convenient manner should be achieved by the end of this month. Juicing these greens, making chips out of them, etc are valid ways of consumption, but the intention should be to eat these greens in their most basic state: raw. More on that later. Please feel free to share good recipes and get creative with your meals!
The first benefit of eating DLG’s is the “crowding out” effect. Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition came up with this theory to deconstruct cravings. Crowding out simply works on the fact that the body can only handle so much food in a day, so if you replace good food with bad, there won’t be enough room or time to eat the problem foods. If you eat a bunch of DLG’s early in the day or at midday, there will be less room for other, less nourishing foods. This also works well with water; if water is consumed throughout the day, there will be less desire to drink 5 cups of coffee or multiple diet sodas.
The specific health benefits of DLG’s are vast. Here is a list:
-better blood circulation
-improved immune function
-improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function
-reduction of mucous and congestion
DLG’s are packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, E and K and the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium iron and zinc.* They are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which protect cells from toxic damage to DNA. DLG’s are an excellent source of fiber, which helps maintain a clear and healthy intestinal tract.
Probably the least examined, but most interesting benefit of eating DLG’s is the concept of synergy. Synergy means that the individual parts are not as important as the sum they create. Nutritionally, synergy would frown upon taking a supplement of vitamin C, but support drinking a cup of orange juice. This is because vitamin C in its natural state in food could be working with thousands of other chemicals to properly function and benefit the body. Would it be more beneficial to take 35 vitamins and minerals in separate pills or get the same 35 (or more) in a serving of spinach? Synergy, and the idea that scientists haven’t even scratched the surface on what constitutes our food, would say that there is a complex interplay between food chemicals that occurs and allows us to thrive. The point is, DLG’s are so nutritionally dense that there are likely hundreds of beneficial compounds building off each other to do the amazing things listed above.
*Many people turn to dairy products for calcium. Long story short, dairy products actuallyreduce bone health by creating an acidic environment in the blood causing the body to strip away alkaline minerals from the bone, thereby weakening them. The countries with the highest milk consumption (USA, Finland, Sweden) have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. How do you suppose an elephant or blue whale has such giant and strong bones, yet they drink no milk after weaning? It is because they munch on DLG’s all day!
For more info: http://www.ecopolitan.com/healtheducation/free-articles/92-milk-strong-bones
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