By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
As children, we were all told to finish up our greens if we wanted dessert. Though annoying at the time – our mothers were right! Decades of scientific research has shown that eating leafy green vegetables is one of the simplest ways to maintain a healthy body and mind. Not only can it help you feel better in the short term, but these powerhouse foods can reduce your risk of numerous health problems down the road too.
Green veg get their vibrant colour from a pigment called chlorophyll. A potent antioxidant, ingesting chlorophyll helps your cells fight the damage caused by harmful free radicals found in your environment (e.g. sunlight or polluted air). It has also been shown to reduce inflammation and slow bacteria production, thus helping wounds to heal more quickly – and improving problematic skin.
You can increase your chlorophyll intake through supplements like Now Chlorophyll capsules or liquid or powders like wheatgrass (Pine’s Wheatgrass) or spirulina (Now Spirulina Powder). While these provide a great boost, it’s still worth adding more green veg to your diet, to get both your chlorophyll and a wide range of other benefits.
Many green veg like kale, spinach, and broccoli contain high levels of Vitamin K, which plays a key role in blood clotting, enabling the body to heal itself. New research also suggests that by helping the body to absorb calcium, Vitamin K is also important for bone health and can reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Supplements like Now Vitamin K are available if you’re concerned about your intake. Check with your GP or pharmacist first if you are taking any blood-thinning medication.
Green veg also contain folate (folic acid). Present in a variety of dark green veg, folate is a type of B vitamin which supports the production of red blood cells, helping you to stay energised, alert, and emotionally balanced. Folate is particularly critical for pregnant women as it reduces risk of neural tube defects like anencephaly and spina bifida. Pregnant women are often recommended adding a supplement like B-Complex + Folic Acid and Materna to their daily diet – do check with you’re GP if you’re not sure.
While oranges are known for their Vitamin C, green veg like peppers and broccoli can be even better! Another powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C supports your immune system, helps to keep your teeth, gums and skin healthy – and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma. Most people can benefit from both food and supplementary sources – Redoxon and Haliborange are great if your kids are picky eaters – to get the most out of this mighty nutrient.
However, it’s not all about vitamins. Many green vegetables like bok choi, peas and Brussel sprouts are also a great source of protein. Fundamental for the structure of our cells and tissues, protein plays a critical role in fuelling your body and carrying oxygen around your body in your blood. Many contemporary diets are deficient in protein, especially those that avoid meat or dairy – but green veg is an easy way to increase the protein on your plate.
But what if you don’t like it? It’s no secret that we’d all prefer a pizza over a bowl of greens, but there are ways to include vegetables in tasty ways. Spinach and kale are easy to pop into your morning smoothie – when blended with sweet fruits like bananas or berries, you won’t taste them at all! Add broccoli and zucchini to your curry or stir-fry or bake some kale chips for a quick snack. You don’t have to overhaul your eating habits – a small tweak here and there can make all the difference. Our busy lives can make it difficult to stay healthy but eating a bit more green veg is a simple way to boost your health every single day. If you’re concerned about your health or would like further advice, please contact your GP or local pharmacist.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.