Leafy Greens: 7 Reasons You Need to Eat More

These 7 leafy greens improve your health and protect against disease.

January 31, 2014

You take vitamin supplements to be healthier and ward off disease, right? Well, put down the pills and get ready for a trip to your farmer's market. These seven leafy greens are hailed as powerfoods in David Zinczenko's The 8-Hour Diet. His plan restores your natural eating cycles that have been disrupted by modern technology. One way to return to a natural diet is to swap out your synthetic supplements with delicious greens that are already brimming with nutrients proven to improve function and protect against disease.


Rx Replacer #1: Arugula

Arugula is a great way to get calcium without saturated fats. One cup has 125 milligrams of the bone building material. Pair that with some healthy toppings like chicken, sunflower seeds, and an olive oil-based dressing, and you've got a meal to make milk jealous. Plus, arugula beats calcium pills because every bite also has some magnesium for extra protection against osteoporosis.

Try This Recipe: Arugula and Goat Cheese Pizza

Rx Replacer #2: Watercress

Think of watercress as the HEPA filter for your body. Watercress, a type of cruciferous vegetable, contains compounds that help the body excrete carcinogens, including carcinogens from tobacco. In fact, a study from the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo found that smokers who ate the most cruciferous vegetables decreased their rates of lung cancer by 40 percent.

Try This Recipe: Tofu and Watercress Wrap with Peanut Sauce

Rx Replacer #3: Bok Choy

If you're generally healthy but want to be sure you're getting all the nutrients you need, replace your multivitamin with a hearty serving of bok choy. Not only does it contain 23 percent of your daily vitamin A and a third of your vitamin C, but it also has cancer-fighting and antiaging phytochemicals: flavonoids, isothiocyanates, and dithiolethione.

Try This Recipe: Stir-Fried Bok Choy

Rx Replacer #4: Spinach

Leave carrots to the bunnies. Spinach is the real way to sharpen your sight. The vitamin A in carrots can improve some eye function, but it doesn't do anything to improve near- or far-sightedness or astigmatism. Spinach, on the other hand, is applauded by Optometry Times for having lutein, a compound that actually helps filter the light in your eye. In fact, a Tufts University study found that frequent spinach eaters had a 43 percent lower risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Try This Recipe: Spinach and Mushroom Crepes

Rx Replacer #5: Romaine Lettuce

Forget the stereotype that "real" men don't eat salads. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service found that of different types of lettuce, romaine had the highest concentration of beta-carotene, 712 micrograms per cup. It's especially important for guys to load up on this leafy green because a study from the University of Illinois showed that high levels of beta-carotene inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells by 50 percent.

Try This Recipe: Muscle-Building Salad

Rx Replacer #6: Endive

This leafy green with a slightly bitter bite has the one-two punch for heart disease. First, it has twice as much fiber as regular iceberg lettuce, and a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that over the course of an 11½-year study, each 10 grams of fiber eaten per day reduced the chance of death by coronary heart disease by 15 percent. Endive also has the added benefit of providing 20 percent of your daily requirement of folate. Studies have shown that folate deficiencies may lead to a 50 percent greater risk of developing heart disease.

Try This Recipe: Endive with Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts, and Pears

Rx Replacer #7: Mustard Greens

Mustard greens have the amazing ability to snap you to attention, and it's not just because of the spicy taste. Mustard greens are packed with the amino acid tyrosine. In a recent study conducted by the U.S. Military, soldiers who ate tyrosine-rich meals before taking a test had a boost in their memory and concentration.

Try This Recipe: Potato, Bacon, and Greens Frittata

For more ideas on how to jump-start your weight loss, check out The 8-Hour Diet, available from your favorite bookseller:
Barnes & Noble
Rodale Store