The foods you eat are largely responsible for your overall health. When you eat the right foods, you give your body the fuel it needs to burn calories and fight illness and disease. You may not be fond of many green vegetables, but you’ve got to get your greens if you want to keep your body strong and healthy.
For St. Patrick’s Day, celebrate with these 10 healthy green foods.
Avocados are rich in healthy, monounsaturated fats—the good kind of fat that helps lower cholesterol. Avocados are also rich in lutein, an antioxidant that helps protect the eyes, as well as vitamin E, which can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Add avocados to a breakfast scramble, on top of your salad or even on your burger.
Prickly pears (nopales) are a type of cactus leaf that is full of fiber, vitamin C and other antioxidants. Prickly pear has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, making it a great food for diabetics. (Green beans are another great green food for lowering blood sugar.)
Brussels sprouts are from the cruciferous family and contain vitamins A and C. They are also rich in folate and potassium, which helps to balance blood pressure.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable rich in vitamins A (for your eyes and immune system), C and K (for your bones), as well as anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Other cruciferous veggies you might want to try include broccoli, arugula and bok choy.
Spinach is a leafy vegetable full of immune-boosting antioxidants. It has also been shown to be effective in fighting cancer.
Kiwi isn’t a vegetable, but it is a green fruit that packs a powerful punch for your health. Kiwi contains nearly twice the vitamin C found in oranges—about 230 percent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. They also contain more potassium than bananas, as well as vitamin E, folate and fiber.
Edemame (soy beans) are a good source of protein and may help lower cholesterol when eaten in place of fatty meat.
Basil, like all herbs, is full of vitamins and antioxidants that help keep your body strong and healthy. Basil is a source of vitamin K and iron and is also anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
Seaweed is popular in Japanese cuisine, and for good reason. It is full of vitamins and minerals, but its biggest benefit is iodine, which is essential for a healthy thyroid. Keeping your thyroid function in tip-top shape can help aid in weight loss and can help prevent fatigue and even depression.
Asparagus is rich in vitamins K, C, A, fiber and folate. It is also an anti-inflammatory food that promotes digestive health.
Remember, there’s more than one way to cook veggies, so if eating green vegetables is a challenge for you, try cooking them a variety of ways—like grilled, steamed, roasted or even in a smoothie— until you find a style that works for you.