Time to prep a salad for dinnerâ€”but what greens do you go for? Kale? Romaine? What kind of lettuce or leafy green will give you the most-nutritious bang for your buck?
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TBH, you can’t exactly go wrong: All of them contain healthy doses of fibre, antioxidants, nutrients and minerals, says registered dietician Abby Langer. “I think we don’t eat enough greens in general, so I’d recommend increasing your intake of them by choosing the ones you like and not worrying about their nutrient profiles.”
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That said, “certainly the darker, heartier greens such as kale and collards have more antioxidants and fibre in them, but if all you can tolerate are iceberg and romaine, by all means don’t avoid those.” She even recommends mixing a couple of lettuce types together, for a blend of textures and nutrients.
Another note: “You want to make sure the greens are fresh,” says Langer, “that means no brown parts, not wilted or soggy. And buy only what you think you’ll use.”
With all of that in mind, check out some of the best lettuces and greens (including some you’ve probably never heard of) to pick up at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Toss them in a salad, or cook them up for a warm, veggie-packed meal.
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Radish greens contain six times more nutrients than the radishes themselves. Boom! They’re also packed with vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium and vitamin A.
These have a bit of a bite, so treat them like an herb and incorporate into salsas, soups and pestos. Be sure to use them quickly, though, or theyâ€™ll wilt.
Pro tip: Look for beetroot, radishes and carrots with tops attached so you can use the leaves!
One cup of watercress contains more than 100 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K. It also contains a high amount of dietary nitrate, which has been shown to lower blood pressure.
Donâ€™t let the little leaves fool you â€“ they pack a peppery punch. Top your chicken salad sandwich with the tangy greens. (Think of them as a sub for sprouts.)
This gorgeous leaf is like the love child of spinach and kale, and contains a number of nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin A and calcium.
To cook, divide and conquer: Chop and sautĂ© the sturdy stems until tender and stir in the delicate leaves toward the end.
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There’s a reason kale has been all the rage in health food: It contains a massive amount of vitamin A and vitamin C. In fact, one cup contains 133 percent of the recommended daily intake. Plus, it’s a good source of calcium, fibre and folate.
Kale has a sturdy texture, so it’s great in soups, salads (just be sure to massage it with oil first!) and even baked into crispy chips.
A close counterpart to kale, spinach is probably one of the most commonly used greens around. And for good reason: Spinach offers half your daily requirement for vitamin A, and nearly twice the recommended amount of vitamin K â€“ which promotes blood, bone and tissue health. Plus, it’s packed with vitamin C, folate and iron.
Toss spinach in your salad, sautĂ© it, or even incorporate it into a party dip.
The classic salad base has more nutrients than you might expect! While it may not be as vitamin-dense as its dark green friends, Romaine lettuce contains solid amounts of minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Plus, it has high levels of vitamin K and beta carotene.
This crunchy lettuce is great for refreshing salads, sandwich toppers or even lettuce wraps.
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While it sounds not-so-healthy, butter lettuce is a good source of vitamin A, and contains some iron and calcium.
As the name implies, this lettuce has a buttery texture and sweeter flavour that makes it pleasant to eat. Toss it in salads or sandwiches for a green touch.
Rocket is Langer’s favorite type of green, but she notes its peppery bite can be too strong for some people. That said, it pairs great with cheese in sandwiches, or salads with a nice balsamic vinaigrette.
And of course, this leafy green packs a nutritious punch: It contains dietary nitrate, which is shown to boost athletic performance. Plus, it contains ample vitamin K and A.
If you love wedge salads, you’re well-acquainted with iceberg lettuce. Although this type of lettuce gets a bad rap for being all water, no substance, it actually contains a significant amount of vitamins A and K. Plus, it offers calcium, potassium, vitamin C and folate.
Not to mention, what it lacks in fibre, it makes up for in water â€“ which can be hydrating and refreshing.
This article was originally published onÂ www.womenshealthmag.com
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