Best Leafy Green Vegetables List, Benefits, and How To Use

Do you have memories of being forced to eat green veggies green as kid? Or remember being told those stories about  how eating spinach will make you grow big and strong like Popeye? Rarely did this bribery work, and some were even turned off greens for life by parents trying to do what’s best their kids nutritionwise.

I believe this repulsion to greens is mainly down to the way they were commonly prepared back then, often boiled to death, sloppy and pretty disgusting, but it doesn’t have to be this way. This best leafy green vegetables list will also give you their amazing benefits and how to use them in a way that will have you and your kids and your whole family coming back for seconds.

The best way to prepare greens

baby spinach in colander

In my opinion, the only way to eat greens that will make them taste delicious, is either raw and finely sliced in a salad with an amazing dressing, lightly steamed with a knob of butter, or flash fried fast in a wok with lots of herbs and spices.

All these methods will ensure you get the most out of your nutritious veggies, as they all use minimal cooking methods. Over-cooking any vegetables just means extra loss of precious vitamins and minerals that are already low in today’s over-farmed soils, so the more you can retain through correct preparation, the better.

Of course, when you keep a veggie raw you keep the fiber content high, and this fiber acts as a great detoxifyer and colon cleanse whilst it’s on its way out again, mopping up and dragging out toxins as it goes, and ultimately leaving you with a more glowing complexion. Yes, it has to be said, greens make you beautiful!

Green vegetables benefits

1. Intense Nutrition

Green’s offer a hit of intense nutrition that gets more powerful the greener they get; so go for the dark leafy greens for the best nutritional hit, and don’t forget to keep them varied. Green’s are super high in antioxidants such as vitamin A, which is good for all your organs including the reproductive system, eyes and immune system.

They also offer high amounts of vitamin C, which is another great immune booster and antioxidant that helps skin repair from environmental damage. Additionally, green veggies are abundant in potassium, vitamin K and Iron.

Minerals

Green vegetables are also high in the vital mineral magnesium (of which most of us are deficient in) that is needed as one of the components of so many bodily functions, including:-

2. Metabolism boosting

The high iron and fiber content of green vegetables means they can help keep you metabolism healthy and running full steam ahead. This may ultimately lead to weight loss over the long term, especially when they are eaten daily as part of a healthy diet plan.

3. Low GI

Green veggies rate very low on the glycemic scale, meaning they don’t cause the insulin spike that high GI foods can, of which can ultimately lead to weight gain and other obesity related issues. Low GI food’s also fill you up as they release their energy slowly into the system, thus helping to curb sugar craving and snacking on junk foods.

4. High fiber

Greens are full of fiber, especially when cooked lightly and not boiled to death! Fiber not only fills you up for longer but is also calorie free, therefore a great weight loss friendly, belly filler.

High fiber foods also help to clear toxins out of your colon, mainly due to their roughage dragging out impurities with it as it passes through.

5. Natural sun protection

Although this does not by any means mean you shouldn’t use sun protection, the high nutrient, folic acid and beta-carotene content of green vegetables does offer some sun protection.

6. Mood enhancing

There’s a number of reasons why eating lots of powerful green superfood veggies may help make you happier, the first being they are high in folate which helps serotonin production. Serotonin is the body’s natural chemical that contributes to your mood, and lack of it can cause depression, anxiety, sugar cravings and irritabilty among other things.

Secondly, fruits and veggies have a positive impact on gut flora, and healthy gut flora is now something that is widely recognised as being a contributor to mood. Couple this with the fact that the fiber and antioxidants in vegetables helps to drag out and neutralise toxins in the body, then you can see the powerful impact they can have on mood as a ‘whole’.

Most nutritious green vegetables list

  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Green cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Rocket
  • Watercress
  • Lamb’s lettuce
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Seaweeds – wakame, nori, kombu, dulse, hijike, Irish moss
  • Purple sprouting broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • All other dark leafy green salad vegetables

Tasty greens side dish recipe

green vegetable stir fry

One of my favorite green vegetables recipes is also the most simplest and fastest way to prepare and cook them. You seriously only need less than 10 minutes to do this, and it makes the perfect, healthy and nutritious accompaniment to literally any meal. Honestly, ANYBODY can like greens when they’re cooked like this ↓↓↓

The best greens to use here are the ones with similar cooking times, so I would usually go for a mix of Swiss chard, kale and cabbage. OR, for the hardier veggies then I would use sliced Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and maybe some other veggies like carrots, onions and cauliflower depending on what you prefer; but they all work well. You can also just cook the one veggie in this way too, of course.

Ingredients:-

  • A medium sized colander full of your sliced and washed green veggies mix
  • 1 x tablespoon of olive/ or 1 x teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1x tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce
  • Pepper (you probably won’t need salt due to the saltiness of the tamari or soy sauce)
  • Finely sliced red chilli (optional)
  • Generous squeeze of lemon juice

Method:-

  1. Heat a large wok with the oil and soy or tamari (don’t let it burn).
  2. Add your green veggies that still have some moisture after being washed (this is good), plus your chilli if using, then stir-fry. Keep it all moving constantly for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to over cook.
  3. Add your garlic and pepper and fry for another 30 seconds or so. The reason you should add the garlic so late is to hold in its powerful nutrition as much as possible, which is destroyed fast in the cooking process.
  4. Add your lemon juice after you’ve turned the heat off; if you add it during the cooking process it can turn bitter tasting.
  5. Wam bam, you’re ready to go. Everybody will LOVE this!

Best green vegetables to juice

When it comes to juicing, you will get more out of a watery vegetable rather than something drier, so bear this in mind. Don’t waste your juice pulp as it has many other uses!

  • Kale
  • Broccoli (be sure to use the stalks also as this is here a lot of its nutrients lie)
  • Cucumber
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Coriander

Best green vegetables for smoothies

green smoothie in blender

When it comes to a smoothie, you will be using the ‘whole’ vegetable as opposed to juicing where the fibers are taken out. There is an argument that smoothies are better for you due to the fact that you are keeping the vegetable or fruit intact, which means keeping all the fiber in thus lowering the overall GI.

It makes sense that eating foods in their whole and natural state could very well be better for our bodies; but juicing on the other hand does mean that there will be an intense hit of nutrients.

On balance, juicing just green veggies is fine, but when you start adding carby, sweeter veggies to the mix such as beetroot and carrot then you will need to take care not to over consume. Higher sugar/calorie juices like this can spike your blood sugar and make you gain weight, so take care to only consume about 150ml a time, and preferably not on an empty stomach (again, this could spike your blood sugar if there is no other food in your stomach to slow it down).

For a green vegetable smoothie – taste-wise – you probably want to go for spinach, baby kale, parsley and coriander, as they are softer to break down in your blender more easily; plus they are more palatable.

Easy green smoothie recipe

A common favorite, and very simple green smoothie recipe is a blend of just 4 ingredients:-

  • A handful of baby spinach
  • 1 ripe medium sized banana
  • Half a ripe avocado
  • About 200ml of any sugar-free plant milk (oat is delicious)

Method:-

Chuck all ingredients in blender and wizz on high speed for 20 seconds. You may wish to slice and freeze your banana first as it gives the final product it a cold and frothy milkshake texture. You may wish to add a couple of dates if you want to make it into more of a meal replacement or pre/post workout smoothie. Serve immediately if possible, or keep in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within 24 hours.

Green superfood powders

green superfood powder

The ULTIMATE greens! Green superfood powders are a big part of my life because they are just so convenient, and perfect as a green top up on days that you can’t get your daily quota. They also usually comprise of foods that you wouldn’t buy in your supermarket such as wheatgrass, barleygrass, spirulina, moringa and blue-green algaes.

The fantastic thing about greens powders is the fact that they are a powerful hit of intense, raw green nutrition that can give you a noticeable boost of energy, boost your immune system, and make your skin glow from the inside (I kid you not).

If you buy only raw organic green powders then you can be sure that they are pesticide free, are planet friendly, and have been picked and freeze or tumble dried at the peak of their nutrition. When you buy your fresh greens from the supermarket, you can’t be sure how long they’ve been hanging around losing nutrition, which is why I like to top up on a daily basis with a green superfood supplement. Job done!

This is not to say that you don’t need to eat your greens in the good old-fashioned way too, as you need the bulk, the fibers, and the diversity.

Conclusion

Green vegetables, along with all the other different coloured fruits vegetables, offer amazing nutrition and are brimming with anti aging antioxidants. Making sure your family and you eat at least 7 portions a day of a rainbow of coloured fruits and veggies along with a highly plant based lifestyle in general, will help to keep you in the best health possible for your amazing future.

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Thanks for reading this post from Zestforever. You really have no excuse not to eat your green veggies now you’ve seen how tasty and simple to prepare they can be.

Please feel free to join up below to receive upcoming posts filled with tips, guides and lots of other juicy information about healthy plant based eating. It’s a fact, the more you see and learn about something the more likely you are to make changes and stick to them for good, and if you join up I will be nudging you with reminders every now and then 🙂

Stefanie Taylor
Plant based eating is set to EXPLODE in 2019; not just for health reasons, but also to help keep our beautiful planet thriving. I have lived this healthful lifestyle for over 2 years, which is the reason why zestforever was born to share my experiences, trials and errors, how I overcame them, and how to turn to this lifestyle in such a way that you will thrive too.

I have studied, tried and tested healthy foods, superfoods and diets for over 25 years, but nothing has come close to giving me the buzz of wellness that plant based eating has. To expand my knowledge further I have also studied and worked as a Sports Nutritional Advisor, Nutritional Therapist, and Clinical Weight Loss Advisor - all of which can tie in with the plant based diet.

This website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical diseases or illnesses. It's merely meant as a way of showing you how to boost your health through the eating of more nutritious plant foods in place of junk foods.

I am grateful for your support, and I hope that the tips and guides you find here will help to guide you on your own plant based journey.

6 thoughts on “Best Leafy Green Vegetables List, Benefits, and How To Use”

  1. Hi there, this is an interesting read. I’ve always heard that vegetables are good for you so it was great to read specific benefits like the ones that you share here. I tend to eat my vegetables boiled or steamed or I add them to my protein shakes. I’ll have to check out the green powders that you mentioned though, they sound like a great addition to my diet.

    • Hi Tamika, sounds like you got your green veggies covered if you already eat them in so many ways. Yes, a green superfood powder is definitely a good back up to have for those times when you just can’t get enough in. Check them out!

  2. Man I freakin love green veggies!!!

    Stefanie you seem to be very knowledgeable about plant based eating and I look forward to learning more by reading through some of your other pieces here on zestforever

    You’ve inspired me to make a green juice in the morning as well.
    Kale
    Broccoli (be sure to use the stalks also as this is here a lot of its nutrients lie)
    Cucumber
    Spinach
    Parsley
    seems like a solid combo!

    Your Friend

    -Will

    • Hi Will, I’m glad you like my website and are going to check it out for more information. This is news I always LOVE to hear! I hope you find everything you are looking for, and if not, hit me up and let me know as I’m always looking for new article ideas.

      Yes, green juices are the best as they really give you an intense hit of energy and nutrition for the day ahead. Enjoy!

  3. You are right about how veggies used to always be boiled to death. lol. I love having the raw leaves in my salads. I usually go for those rather than iceberg, when selecting my foliage at a salad bar. That being said, our family has never had a problem with spinach. We did tell our boys they’d get strong arms if they ate their spinach.

    • Ha ha, yep, the old strong arm analogy – never fails!
      It’s good you go for other other green vegetables other than iceberg lettuce as that’s one of the lowest in nutrients. The darker the green the more nutritious is the general rule of thumb. Also, be sure to mix up lot of different kinds and not stick to the same thing wherever possible.

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