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Eat Green for St. Patrick’s Day! Celebrate with These 8 Foods


by Dr. Nancy Rahnama

Director of Health & Nurition

We all heard the phrase "eat your greens" as a child and probably poked at a few not-so-well cooked green things on our plates with a grimace. Many children struggle to eat their vegetables, but that doesn’t mean you should! As an adult, you have no excuse for not eating your greens: you’ve got all the tools at your disposal to find ways to make your greens delicious and you likely know how much better you feel when you do.

This St. Patrick’s day, why not celebrate by adding a few more healthy greens to your plate? Here are 8 we love:

8 Greens to Enjoy on St. Patty’s Day & After

 

1. Avocado

While many refer to the avocado as a vegetable with others referring to it as a fruit, it’s technically a berry! This rich, creamy food has become a household staple across the world but is indigenous to Mexico and the Caribbean. It’s full of vitamin E, heart-healthy fat, fiber, folate, and minerals that many Americans don’t get enough of, such as potassium and magnesium. It’s even good for eye health. Try avocado mashed into guacamole with red onion, tomato, salt, and lemon juice, or add in slices to tacos, burritos, salads, and even sushi rolls.

2. Leafy greens

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense greens out there. Just one cup of raw kale provides an impressive 684% of your daily needs for vitamin K, 206% of your DV for vitamin A and 134% for vitamin C.

Spinach is full of vitamins and minerals while also being low in calories, meaning we can eat plenty of it without feeling too full. And since it has high water content, it wilts and reduces, meaning we can pack in even more. Spinach is also loaded with folate, which is integral for red blood cell production and even prevents issues with the neural tubes during pregnancy.

Other leafy greens like cabbage, Swiss chard, collard greens, lettuce, and watercress are good sources of Vitamin A, C, and K, so try them all and stick with the ones you love.

3. Brussels sprouts

While many people aren’t huge fans of the taste of sprouts - they usually haven’t cooked them right! If you don’t like them boiled, try cutting them into halves or quarters and frying them with just a little oil, or roast them. Using fresh Brussels sprouts is also usually preferable to the palette over using frozen.

So why are Brussels sprouts worth it? They’re full of vitamin C (which is important for tissue repair), fiber (which keeps us regular), and potassium, which helps with blood pressure. Brussels sprouts are also great for immunity, heart health, and kidney health. The Brussels sprout is a member of the Brassicaceae

family of cruciferous, cabbage-like vegetables and is a close relative of cauliflower, kale, and mustard greens.

Sprouts are also loaded with antioxidants, which are valuable compounds that reduce oxidative stress in the body’s cells. These antioxidants help to reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease.

4. Kiwi

Native to Southwestern China, this fruit is full of folate, fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C. One 3.5-ounce kiwi provides more than 80% of your average daily vitamin C requirement. Kiwis are also known to contain serotonin, which could be helpful with falling asleep. Kiwis are rich in plant compounds that offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to the body.

Botanically, the kiwifruit is considered a berry, even though it’s at least twice the size of the average strawberry. Its brown, hairy skin is often peeled away with some people chopping the top off and eating it with a spoon like a boiled egg. Others eat the whole thing, skin and all, which is also healthy (though perhaps an acquired taste)!

5. Edamame

This bean has been consumed alongside sushi, noodle dishes, and sashimi for centuries, but it has become particularly popular over the last few years. Also known as the soybean, this plant is full of protein with one cup containing nearly 19g of protein. As a bonus, soybeans contain less saturated fat and have been well researched for their heart health benefits. While edamame is the hero on St. Patty’s day, due to its green color, don’t be afraid to double up by serving tofu with it to ingest even more of this healthy bean.

6. Basil

Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, this herb is most commonly found in Italian dishes like pasta, risotto, and pizza. Basil contains rosmarinic acid which is anti-inflammatory, caffeic acid which boats plenty of antioxidants, and eugenol, an anti-inflammatory essential oil. Basil is a popular folk remedy for physical complaints such as bug bites and nausea, but it’s also used heavily in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and several other holistic medicine techniques.

There are several varieties of basil, including holy basil, sweet basil, Greek and Thai basil, cinnamon basil, and lettuce basil. If you love pasta, why not opt for green lentil pasta (it has a very similar consistency) and sprinkle some basil over the top?

7. Seaweed

Packed with minerals including iron, iodine, and zinc, this food is great for an immune boost. It is also a great source of iodine which is needed for muscles, the metabolic system, and the nervous system. Seaweed comes in loads of edible varieties, including agar, kelp, kombu, nori, sea lettuce, and wakame. Seaweed is popular in Japanese and Korean cuisine where it’s often added to broths, stews, soups, and noodle dishes to add a deeper flavor.

8. Asparagus

While this long, thin, green food is a vegetable, it may surprise you to learn that it’s a member of the lily family. Asparagus is a great source of B vitamins, which help convert your food to energy and help make red blood cells. Asparagus is also a great source of fiber such as inulin which helps with your microbiome. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also rich in Vitamin K and folate which are important for the prevention of blood clotting, promotion of bone health, and cell growth respectively.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this year, what better way than to challenge yourself to pack in as many greens as you can? Will you make a vibrant spinach and garlic pesto for your pasta or will you blend some kale and spirulina into your favorite morning smoothie? Whatever you eat this St Patrick’s Day, make sure to get those greens in!

 


Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease. In addition to her private practice in Beverly Hills, she is also the co-founder and Director of Nutrition for Dr Nancy MD.

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