Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Five Healthy Green Foods to Eat on St. Patrick’s Day

When you think about the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, you think about all things green. However, you don’t necessarily think of green food. Most people want to eat traditional Irish food like corned beef, potatoes, Irish stew and soda bread. These aren’t the healthiest of foods, and when you throw in a few pints of Guinness beer, you definitely have a calorie-packed celebration!

But there are many healthy green foods that you can eat on St. Patrick’s Day that won’t disrupt your diet or cause you to pack on the pounds.

Sinai Hospital Clinical Dietician Kelly Bliss, RD, LDN, says that dark green vegetables are "loaded with important vitamins and minerals that can reduce the risk of chronic disease, protect against development of cancer, decrease bone loss and are linked with healthy levels of blood pressure."

"Over the course of a week men and women should aim to consume three servings of dark green vegetables," Bliss says. "On a daily basis try to incorporate vegetables from all colors of the rainbow.”

Here are five green foods that you can eat to celebrate the luck of the Irish:

1. Asparagus

Did you know that asparagus is from the same vegetable family as onions and garlic? It’s true, and luckily it doesn’t smell as bad. Asparagus is jam-packed with vitamins A, B, C and K and is loaded with calcium and fiber.

Health Benefits: Rids your body of excess water and prevents birth defects in pregnant women.

Recipe: Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Asparagus with Ginger Video:

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family (and cousin to the cauliflower). It’s a great source of vitamins A and C, as well zinc, calcium and iron.

Health Benefits: Contains phytonutrients that help reduce cancer-related genes.

Recipe: Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli

Cream of Broccoli Soup Video:

3. Arugula

Arugula is an easy-to-grow salad green that has a peppery taste. It contains vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid, which helps form genetic material in the body.

Health Benefits: Helps prevent cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and stroke.

Recipe: Pesto with Arugula

Fresh and Easy Arugula Salad Video:

4. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are edible fruit that are composed of 90 percent water. They are a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium and calcium.

Health Benefits: Regulates blood pressure, helps construct connective tissue, promotes hair growth and helps heal sunburns.

Recipe: Japanese Cucumber Salad

Cool as a Cucumber Soup Video:

5. Spinach

Spinach was the No. 1 food of choice for Popeye, and here’s the reason why: It contains vitamins A, B2, B6 and C, as well as iron, zinc, protein, potassium and fiber.

Health Benefits: Promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure and protects against eye diseases.

Recipe: Wilted Spinach with Cherries and Goat Cheese

Garlic Sautéed Spinach Video:

You can have fun on St. Patrick’s Day without sacrificing your health, so how about trying one of these green foods to get the party started!

-Trish Smith

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