My grandfather enjoyed scoffing at my dinner plate and earnestly telling me that he simply would not eat anything that was green, save a juicy honeydew melon at the peak of summer. Nevertheless, we both agreed to just agree that the other person was completely insane, and left it at that. I watched him eat his steak and potatoes as if it were his patriotic duty, and he not-so-quietly left me to my salads and steamed kale. But beyond those important leafy greens, there are many delicious and healthy green foods we should be eating regularly, regardless of how we feel about their color. How many of these nine green foods are you eating everyday?
Spirulina: This microalgae grows in freshwater, like lakes and ponds. Mesoamericans revered it as a nutritious supplement, and it's loaded with B vitamins, amino acids (the building blocks of protein), healthy fats and antioxidants (more than any other food on earth, actually!). Add to smoothies and green drinks, mix into dressings or take as a capsule.
Lime: Often overshadowed by its bright yellow cousin, the lemon, the lime is not to be underappreciated. It's an excellent source of vitamin C, aids digestion, has unique antioxidant flavanoids, and the citric acid in limes is an excellent fat burner. Its flavor is outstanding and essential for dishes like guacamole and key lime pie.
Kiwi: While brown on the outside, this furry fruit is bursting with green goodness on the inside that has more vitamin C than an orange. It's also an excellent source of fiber, which helps slow the absorption of sugars, and studies suggest kiwis may aid in preventing macular degeneration, improve cardiovascular health and protect against free radical damage.
Pistachio: This fun to eat nut is full of healthy protein and fiber, and an excellent source of the minerals copper and manganese. You'll also crack open a bounty of B6 and other B vitamins like folate, biotin, niacin and riboflavin. They can also boost antioxidant levels in the blood of individuals with high cholesterol, which could decrease the risk of heart disease.
Avocado: The mighty avocado may be nature's perfect food. It's creamy and luscious and oh-so tasty, so much so that it would seem to be bad for you, but guess again. All those fats are actually rich in the omega-fatty acids we need for proper brain function, healthy heart and glowing skin.
String Beans: The green bean goes by many names, but they matter not as much as the super goodness in the slender stalk. We may think of beans as mushy and bland, but once you've had them prepared properly, you'll soon change your tune. And for good reason. The green bean is loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, potassium, folate and magnesium. They're an excellent source of fiber, which supports heart health and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Parsley: Grab that garnish! Parsley has been the unfortunate victim of a smear campaign designating it as mere decoration. But this herb is especially good for you. It's loaded with vitamin K and contains unique volatile oil compounds including myristicin, limonene, eugenol and alpha-thujene. And, it's also rich in flavonoids—including apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol and luteolin. Adding to your green juice, salads and on top of virtually any dish, parsley can freshen your breath (really), improve eye health, protect against heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.
Cucumber: The cool, crisp cucumber is a source of potent lignans that can protect against heart disease and cancer. It's also a powerful anti-inflammatory (which is why we put slices on our eyes), and a cuke is an excellent source of vitamins like K and C. And remember its cousin, the pickle! Naturally fermented foods are an excellent source of friendly bacteria that supports digestive health.
Peas: They may be wrapped up in memories of yuck (eat your peas!), but the pea is a mighty force for good, really. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals (K, A, B, C, magnesium, iron, zinc to name a few, the list goes on!) and help to regulate blood sugar, support healthy cardiovascular function and prevent certain types of cancer.
Want to discover more? Read, 7 Reasons Kale is the New Beef
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Maria Keays