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Turning over a new leaf in 2008

Tired of salads? How else can we get the green leafy vegetables needed for our good health? Well, 2008 may be the year to turn over a new leaf! With the wide variety of vegetables available in every g...

Preventive Maintenance Karen Bowen
Preventive Maintenance Karen Bowen

Tired of salads? How else can we get the green leafy vegetables needed for our good health? Well, 2008 may be the year to turn over a new leaf! With the wide variety of vegetables available in every grocery store, this may be the year to experiment with something new.

Why grab some green leafy vegetables while you’re out shopping? They keep your eyes and your brain sharp. The lutein in them keeps your eyes functioning well and maintains your arteries’ walls, while their Vitamin E helps your brain. In a recent study published in the Journal of Neurology, the study author, Martha Clare Morris, ScD, with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said, “Compared to people who consumed less than one serving of vegetables a day, people who ate at least 2.8 servings of vegetables a day saw their rate of cognitive change slow by roughly 40%.”

“It may be due to vegetables containing high amounts of Vitamin E, which helps lower the risk of cognitive decline. Vegetables are also typically consumed with added fats such as salad dressings, and fats increase the absorption of Vitamin E.”

What is most remarkable is that “This decrease is equivalent to about five years of younger age.”

These are good reasons to dig into some green leafy vegetables.

If you want to stick with a vegetable you know, choose romaine lettuce (and not iceberg lettuce, which has far fewer nutrients). Romaine is excellent in salads, sandwiches and can even be used to replace the thin bread layer in a wrap. Since romaine is full of: Vitamin A, folate, Vitamin C, manganese, chromium, fiber, Vitamin B1,Vitamin B2, potassium, molybdenum, iron, and phosphorous, it helps protect the heart, especially by improving cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

I’m sure you’re also familiar with spinach. Pick it up in a bag or plastic container in the produce section to eat raw in salads, or steamed. Spinach has a lot to offer: Vitamins A and C, iron and calcium, as well as folate and magnesium.

Only half a cup of cooked spinach gives you 50% of your daily amount of folate (necessary for producing healthy blood cells and preventing neural tube defects) and its magnesium helps your body metabolize calcium (vital for a healthy heart).

If you feel slightly adventurous, steam up some brussels sprouts – just until they are tender, and top them off with some seasonings (salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil or butter, or maybe even some feta or parmesan cheese).

Or, try them raw in a salad; just separate the leaves (like a miniature cabbage). Brussels sprouts contain:Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, Vitamin A, manganese, fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6 and thiamin (Vitamin B1), omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorous, protein, magnesium, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin E, copper and calcium. These nutrients help your body detoxify cells, develop healthy skin, improve colon and immune function, protect itself against rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and birth defects.

Take a chance on collard greens. They taste a lot like spinach with a rich smoky flavour. Just boil them briefly to add to a soup or stir-fry. Or, eat them as a side, with these traditional seasonings: lemon juice and olive oil, garlic and onion. Collard greens contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, manganese, folate, fiber, calcium, potassium, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B6, and are a good source ofVitamin E, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B5, niacin, zinc, phosphorous, and iron. Additionally, collard greens have more protein than most other veggies (about four grams per cup).

A different mild, cabbage-like vegetable is bok choy, Chinese cabbage. It’s very tasty sauteed with onions, olive oil and salt and pepper. Some like to season bok choy with salt and pepper and lemon or lime juice. Or, add it to stews, soups stir-fries and casseroles. Bok choy is full of Vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6 which keeps your skin and eyes healthy.

Or, try another cabbage-like vegetable -kale. Kale tastes like slightly bitter cabbage and is usually added to coleslaw, soups, stir-fries, sauces and even mashed potatoes or homemade pizza. A good source of iron, Vitamins A, C and B6, calcium, folic acid, manganese, fiber, copper and potassium, kale helps fight many forms of cancer, detoxify cells, lower your risk of cataracts, promote lung health, support your immune system and keep your brain clear while you age.

Collard greens, kale and bok choy are all vegetables from the brassica family, which are known for their powerful cancer-fighting phytochemicals, providing antioxidant protection, supporting your immune system, and protecting your heart and lungs.

More green leafy vegetables to explore are mustard greens, Swiss chard, turnip greens, and endive. Make yourself a New Year’s resolution for a healthy 2008. Go green. •

-Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

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Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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