The Benefits of Greens
by Ciara Clark
As a new mom, I understand the challenges that are commonly presented during this new phase of life. Life, as anyone would expect, has completely changed. Even in the best of circumstances, most women during this stage are losing sleep, experiencing heightened levels of anxiety encompassing your new baby and postpartum body, while also adjusting emotionally to your new life. Not to mention the added levels of stress from working, breastfeeding, taking care of the household, doing the grocery shopping and cooking in support of our families. In the midst of it all, it's easy to neglect ourselves in the process.
Motherhood has offered an invaluable opportunity for me to really tune in, to slow down, and to be present in a way that allows for the creation of space to nurture myself and my family. It’s not easy, but it's important that we are able to fuel ourselves, so that we are capable of fueling the next generation.
One aspect of nourishing our bodies includes tapping in to being more mindful about the foods that we eat and incorporating a healthy dose of green vegetables into our day. Being mindful about the food choices that we make will assist us in neutralizing some of the unhealthy things going on in our daily lives (lack of sleep, heavy metals and pesticide exposure, and stress).
One of the best ways to support our health is with the daily consumption of plants. Plants are an integral source of natural active products ranging from antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to support you and your babies health.
So let’s dive in to some of my favorites!
These tiny powerhouses are one of my absolute favorite greens to eat! Why? They contain approximately 40x more nutrients than your standard size vegetables. So you’re probably wondering what exactly a microgreen is. Microgreens are the seedlings of edible herbs and vegetables. Some of the most popular types include arugula, chard, cilantro, fennel and mustard greens. What’s truly beneficial about these greens is that they contain a wider variety of polyphenols than their mature vegetable counterparts. Their higher level of micronutrients makes them a great source for antioxidant consumption, providing an extra layer of protection against such ailments as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Microgreens are great for being served as an edible garnish on your food or for being served as a complimentary ingredient to your salad. They pack so much flavor, an array of colors and crisp textures to fancy up any palette. I will admit, they are quite expensive, so I would highly recommend going to your local farmers market to purchase them fresh.
2. Alfalfa Sprouts
Alfalfa sprouts are a top contender on my list of beneficial greens. Similarly to their powerhouse neighbors, the microgreen, sprouts are filled with an abundance of healthy enzymes. What I love about sprouts is that the process of sprouting allows for the release of more vitamins, minerals and protein than would traditionally be available in unsprouted seeds. As women, we should also take note of the fact that their high levels of vitamin K and phytoestrogens could potentially minimize any symptoms associated with menopause and menstruation. Despite the limited amount of research, alfalfa sprouts have been praised for their ability to increase milk production in mothers.
Spirulina is arguably the most nutrient dense food in the world. This is one of the main reasons as to why I would recommend spirulina as a complement to a well-balanced diet. Not to mention that it’s quite easy on the eyes (it’s color is remarkably astounding!). Spirulina is a blue-green algae that’s thoroughly researched for its ability to lower blood pressure, boost energy, detoxify the body of heavy metals, eliminate candida, reduce cholesterol and the list goes on. If you happen to be on a plant-based diet, spirulina is an excellent source of complete protein, containing approximately 55-70% protein, based on the time that it was harvested. Personally, I think it’s an acquired taste, so I prefer to consume it in a capsule form, but its nutritional components may be consumed by adding just half a teaspoon of powder to your green juice or morning smoothie. Whatever satisfies your palette!
Now how could we talk about the benefits of green without including the hottest of wellness trends, celery; more specifically, celery juice. Celery juice is all the rage right now, but let’s get real! The health benefits of celery are astounding, largely due to it being an excellent source of beneficial antioxidants and enzymes in promotion of optimal health. The leafy green stalk contains a host of powerful antioxidant characteristics that are beneficial in removing free radicals, commonly known as toxic byproducts that are heavily associated with human disease. A study conducted by the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine reported the antioxidant activity of celery, ranging from the prevention of cardiovascular disease, jaundice and liver disease, to its ability to reduce glucose and blood pressure levels in the body.
What’s also great about celery is the fact that it’s loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B, C, K, potassium and folate. So what’s the caveat? In order for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K to become bioavailable in our bodies, they need to be accompanied with a healthy fat for proper absorption … and when you juice, you lose the fiber. So when you’re juicing, you’ll definitely reap the benefits of receiving a healthy dose of enzymes, but try accompanying your juice with a slice of avocado, or another healthy fat, on the side to maximize absorption.
I love using cilantro in my green smoothies (it’s my star ingredient!), purely for the cleansing and detoxifying elements of this bountiful green. One of the things that I love most about cilantro is its ability to bind and eliminate heavy metals from our bodies. Heavy metals are most certainly at the top of the list of energy-draining toxins. In our modern day world, it’s virtually impossible to not be exposed. By limiting our exposure and nourishing our bodies with plant-based foods that will assist us in gently excreting these harmful toxins from our bodies, this will help to minimize our overall toxic load. Just a handful of cilantro in your soup, stews or morning smoothies will go a long way!
If you’re interested in receiving a healthy bonus on how to support your health in a simple, yet sustainable way, I would love to offer you my FREE guide – “5 Best Ways to Naturally Restore Your Energy and Focus.” Enjoy!
More Green Recipes/Tips this way!
Ciara Clark is a certified yoga instructor and holistic health coach based in Boston, MA.
She specializes in combining the healing wisdoms from both yoga and plant-based nutrition to set women on the path towards optimal health. As a Scientist by training, her specialized academic and industry knowledge has given her a unique westernized and holistic perspective that aims to create customized wellness approaches empowering clients to find strength in healing their own bodies.
Connect with Ciara Clark: