7 of the Healthiest Leafy Greens | Keck Medicine of USC

7 of the Healthiest Leafy Greens

Whether it’s salad night or you’re beginning a new meal routine, these leafy greens will keep it healthy.

Sure, you try to be good during the week and bring a salad to work, or order it as a side instead of fries. But the same old green salad can become a stale choice very quickly.

Luckily, you have options. Here are seven of the best greens to pick when opting for something a little healthier — along with some ideas on how to prepare them.

1. Kale

Kale has become very popular; it’s a common main ingredient in green juices and the foundation for other juice recipes. But why is it getting the spotlight? That is in part due to its nutritional value. It is rich in vitamins A, C, K and B6, as well as calcium and magnesium. Sure, it may taste a bit bitter if it’s raw, but there are ways to counteract that, from blending it in a juice to cooking it on the frying pan.

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2. Watercress

Watercress is an aquatic plant found near springs and slow-moving streams that tastes like spinach. Watercress is a great source of nutrients. A serving of watercress actually has four times more beta-carotene and vitamin A than an apple. Try mixing it into your salad next time.

3. Spinach

Popeye was onto something. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 180 gram serving of boiled spinach provides 6.43 milligrams of iron, or approximately one-third of your recommended daily intake.

4. Collard greens

These healthy little green leaves are rich with nutrients such as vitamins A, C and K. They are great for a salad or to have as a side for most dinnertime recipes. The next time you’re invited to a barbecue, try bringing a side of cooked collard greens to keep things healthy.

5. Chard

Do you like to sauté? If the answer is yes, then chard may be the leafy green for you. This green is also a great source for vitamins A and C.

6. Leaf lettuce

Romaine. Red leaf. Green leaf. No matter which you pick, lettuce packs the vitamin A and folate you are looking for to keep yourself healthy. Try switching up your lettuce leaf or mixing and matching the next time you make a salad. Not only do the leaves taste slightly different, they’ll make your salad more visually appealing — which will help keep you eating what you’re supposed to be eating instead of looking for that cookie or french fries.

7. Arugula

When you’re sick of lettuce, arugula is a great, easy alternative. Low on calories and filled with flavor, this leaf is 90 percent water. That makes it a great leafy green to help you rehydrate.

Are you looking for other foods to improve your health? The best way to be certain about what works for you is to ask your physician.

“Studies have shown that eating a primarily plant-based diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats such as olive oil promotes health and longevity,” says Susan Kim, MS, RDN, outpatient kidney transplant dietician at Keck Medicine of USC.

by Leonard Kim

If you’re curious as to what other foods can be beneficial for you, reach out to your primary care physician for advice. If you are local to Southern California and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.