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The late inventor Thomas Edison once stated, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” While such a prognosis has yet to fully materialize in today’s world, evidence is building that it just might be on the verge of going mainstream.
More and more people − many of them with the full support of their doctor − are now looking beyond just reacting to health problems with drugs and surgery. Instead, they’re proactively looking to adopt the type of healthy lifestyle that helps them avoid getting sick in the first place. For most people, this approach includes trying to eat better and exercise regularly.
But what does it mean to “eat better?” A good first step is to avoid consuming processed and fast foods that create disease, and instead eat more “green” foods that help keep disease at bay. The good news is there are all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and herbs to choose from in this green category. Each one with its own unique set of health benefits that have been validated both through science and historical account.
10 Top Healthy Greens
Many people find the easiest way to get their daily dose of healthy greens in is through juicing or blending them into smoothies. Here are 10 of my favorite healthy, nutrient-dense green foods that are top-notch additions to your green drinks, juice, or smoothies.
(A reminder that in order to receive the most cancer-fighting potential, you want your healthy greens to be organic/non-spray.)
#1 – Kiwifruit
With more vitamin C than an orange, the succulent, green flesh of the kiwifruit is brimming with disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help prevent aging, improve skin health, boost respiratory function, protect vision, and improve cardiovascular health, among many other functions. Studies show that the kiwifruit helps keep the organ where most of our immune system lives − the gut − in tip-top shape.
The only thing that’s better than eating the flesh of a kiwifruit it also eating its skin and seeds (from organic kiwifruit, of course) which is where you’ll find high levels of digestion-friendly fiber, protein, and other additional health-protecting compounds. This fuzzy flesh-protector is where much of the fiber and vitamin C in the kiwifruit is found. In fact, you can triple your fiber intake when eating kiwifruit by consuming it with the skin!
#2 – Kale
These stalks of leafy green goodness are a powerhouse of vitamins A, C, and K. Being a cruciferous vegetable, kale is naturally a powerful cancer-fighting food that studies have shown can help improve detoxification, support heart health, and inhibit the formation and spread of malignant cancer cells. Technically a wild form of cabbage, kale is also notably anti-inflammatory, helping to protect the body against harmful bacteria and viruses.
#3 – Spinach
It kept Popeye strong and it can do the same for you! Once known as the “Spanish vegetable” in Great Britain, spinach has a rich history of use all throughout the world, and for good reason. It’s packed with B vitamins, vitamins A, C, E, and K, trace minerals like copper and magnesium, and so much more. Spinach is also a powerful antioxidant food that helps to keep cholesterol from oxidizing in your blood vessels, helping to improve circulation while promoting a healthy heart.
#4 – Watercress
Another varietal of leafy green, watercress is a culinary delight that tastes great in soups, salads, and sandwiches. It’s technically a healing herb that contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals (at least!), and many other compounds at quantities much higher than that of a typical vegetable. For instance, watercress contains more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, and more vitamin C than an orange. It also contains a treasure trove of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and other “super” nutrients that help protect the body against chronic disease, including cancer.
Watercress is perhaps most known in the “superfood” world for its high levels of vitamin K, which helps protect the brain against neurodegeneration, as well as strengthen bones and prevent heart disease. Studies suggest that watercress is a powerful anti-aging food that can help people live longer lives with improved quality of life. Many people have never tried watercress, so give it a try and add it to your healthy greens shopping list!
#5 – Parsley
This popular food garnish is, in many ways, healthier than many of the dinner plates upon which it’s presented. A powerful chelating herb, parsley is recognized for its ability to draw out toxic heavy metals and expel them from the body. It’s also an incredible anti-cancer food, rich in flavonoids like myricetin and apigenin that research show help deter cancer cells and tumors. Parsley has also been scientifically shown to help strength the cellular matrices of bones, as well as balance blood sugar levels to prevent the deadly “D” disease known as diabetes.
#6 – Broccoli
Another fiber-rich cruciferous vegetable in the same family of greens as kale, broccoli is an incredible anti-cancer superfood of the highest order. It contains high levels of a chemoprotective substance known as sulforaphane that’s been the focus of extensive cancer research as of late. A famous study out of Johns Hopkins University, for instance, found that broccoli, and broccoli sprouts in particular, contain such high levels of sulforaphane that consuming this delicious green food regularly can help significantly reduce your cancer risk.
Sulforaphane has likewise been shown to inhibit an enzyme known as histone deacetylase, or HDAC, that’s directly involved in promoting the spread of cancer cells. By eating broccoli as part of a routine diet, you can help prevent the risk of prostate, pancreatic, esophageal, and many other types of cancer. Not only that, broccoli contains many other anti-cancer nutrients like folate, phosphorus, choline, potassium, and copper that further ward off many forms of this harrowing disease.
#7 – Collard Greens
This favorite of southern cuisine is another cruciferous wonder. It’s chock full of protein, fiber, and other key nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that help lubricate joints and shore up brain function. Collard greens also contain sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates that not only help detoxify the body, but also protect it against pathogenic invaders. Indole-3-carbinol is another healing compound in collard greens that further helps to fortify the body’s defenses against cancer.
#8 – Kelp
A popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, this seaweed varietal is a rich source of vitamins and trace minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, amino acids, omega-3s, fiber, and perhaps most significant of all − iodine. I say this because iodine is tough to find in substantial quantities in most common foods, but it’s abundant in plants from the sea. This is good news not only for your thyroid gland, which regulates hormone production, but also your central nervous system at large.
Iodine is also essential for brain development and proper functionality of the pituitary, as well as the body’s other important glandular systems. Iodine also plays a critical role in cancer prevention, as a cohort of scientific evidence suggests that iodine deficiency is directly correlated with increased cancer progression, and particularly cancers of the breast.
#9 – Celery
Crunchy and mostly made of water, celery might not seem like anything out of the ordinary − but don’t be fooled! Besides its rich fiber content, which is really good for the gut, celery is packed with electrolyte compounds that help keep the body hydrated, as well as enzymes that help keep it nourished and clean. Then there are the antioxidants, phytonutrients, and other nutrient compounds that help protect vital organs, vision, and virility, among other things.
Everything from clearing the arteries to quelling inflammation to protecting against cancer is on celery’s resume of health benefits. Truth be told, there’s very little that celery can’t do when it comes to promoting health, it turns out, which is why it ranks on this list of healthy greens.
#10 – Aloe Vera
This spiny desert plant is known for its ability to soothe the skin that’s been overexposed to the sun. But aloe vera is good for so much more than just a sunburn salve, as it serves as a powerful remedy for upset stomach, constipation, and various gastrointestinal disorders. This due to its soothing anti-inflammatory and gentle laxative properties. Aloe vera also contains significant quantities of enzymes that help to improve food digestion, boost immunity, and create homeostatic balance throughout the body.
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People are proactively looking to adopt a healthy lifestyle that helps them avoid getting sick rather than react with medicine and surgery.
It is important to avoid consuming processed and fast foods that create disease, and instead eat more “green” foods that help keep disease at bay.
10 top healthy greens:
- Collard greens
- Aloe vera