Though the exact mechanisms behind this protection aren’t known, researchers believe that antioxidants in both olive oil and leafy greens, along with the folate and potassium in the greens, play a role.
The study authors don’t stipulate that the greens and olive oil need to be eaten together to engender these benefits, but other evidence suggests that recipes with olive oil and leafy greens may offer enhanced health-promoting powers. For example, one study found that people who ate salads with dressings that contained fat (such as olive oil) absorbed more nutrients from the salad than those who ate fat-free dressing. Even reduced-fat salad dressing did better at boosting nutrient absorption than fat-free versions. Given all this, it’s clear that including healthy fats like olive oil is a great way to prepare greens, whether you’re tossing a crisp table salad or sautéing Swiss chard or spinach.
The following recipes with olive oil and leafy greens, all from the Rodale Recipe Finder, provide a nutritional punch and heart protection all rolled into one. And did we mention how easy to prepare they are, and how sublime they taste?
#1: Escarole Salad with Parmesan. Crisp escarole or endive works equally well in this simple salad. For another unique and tasty salad option, try a Spinach-Endive Salad with Vintner’s Dressing. As an alternative to salad, Spinach with Olives and Feta Cheese works as a side or a light lunch in itself.
#2: Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes. Yes, it does taste as good as it sounds. This nutritious side dish can accompany all sorts of entrées, from steak to chicken to pasta.
#3: Quinoa with Spinach and Cheese. This hearty, grain-based side dish also works well as a vegetarian entrée, as does Barley Risotto with Wilted Greens.
#4: Italian Chard Soup. On an upcoming winter night, serve up this comforting soup with a big hunk of crusty bread. You'll feel as warm and cozy as a hibernating bear.
#5: Spinach Pesto Penne. This pesto-inspired pasta dish bursts with flavor and good health. Same goes for this excellent Fusilli with Mushrooms and Swiss Chard.