Greens are in a category of their own because they are so vital to the daily diet. Greens provide our bodies with numerous phytochemicals, including lutein and beta-carotene, and the vitamins C, K, and E, and natural folates (as opposed to synthetic folic acid). Dark leafy greens are also a rich source of the minerals calcium and iron.
The roots of green leafy plants secrete acids that dissolve rocks in the soil, freeing minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. The roots then absorb these minerals into their leaf structures, which is why they are such a good source of minerals. For example, an 8-ounce serving of cooked collard greens has more calcium than an 8-ounce glass of milk. Phytochemicals in greens support the liver in its ability to increase the production of antioxidants and excrete toxins from our bodies. This plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, arthritis, cancers, cognitive decline, and many other ailments.
Try to incorporate both raw and cooked greens into every meal. Some common types of greens to include in your diet are kale, collard, cabbage, bok choy, Swiss chard, arugula, and many varieties of lettuce. Try adding greens to your smoothies and soups; use them as an alternative to tortillas to create healthy wraps; or use them with freshly made salad dressings to create refreshing salads.
Who can resist the refreshing sweetness of peak-of-the-season organic fruit? Fresh raw fruit provides an easy and deliciously sweet way to consume a wide variety of important phytochemicals, antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals. Most fruits contain 80 to 95% water and adequate amounts of potassium, iron, calcium, and magnesium, and high amounts of vitamin C.
Many fruits are also high in soluble fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar, and improve bowel function. Fruit is a rich source of phenols, which is a group of natural compounds that can block enzymes that cause inflammation, inhibit tumor formation, and help to prevent cell mutations, among many other things.
Roughly 8,000 phenolic compounds have been identified, and many of them are flavonoids. Phenols are found in high concentrations in red grapes, apples, lemons, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Fruit such as kiwi, mangos, oranges, and papayas contain the carotenoid zeaxanthin, which improves the immune response and protects the eyes against macular degeneration. All types of berries are very high in antioxidants and bioflavonoids, which work to prevent and treat many different diseases and conditions