Published on March 26th, 2015 | by Yashodhara Ghosh
BEAUTY EATS: Shoots & leaves!
Is obesity looming large in the horizon? Well, then, it may be time to take a long, good look at your diet, and turn over a new leaf (literally).
Know a better way to go green other than chomping on a hearty salad? Eat them for the fiber, for your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, or to keep cancer and cholesterol in check – there’s something packed in for everyone in that bunch of salad leaves sitting at the counter on the supermarket. So take a leaf out of our book. Give the bag of frozen nuggets a miss this time; pick a bunch of fresh greens. A thumb rule to follow when you are trying to choose the most nutritious leaf for that bowlful of goodness: Go by colour. The darker the leaf, chances are the healthier it will be, packed with antioxidants.
While you may want to steam some of the leaves – say cabbage – keep in mind that exposing them to high heat may rob them of their complete nutritive value. Munching on them raw is often the healthiest – and crunchiest – option. Wash well rubbing individual leaves thoroughly in cold water before tossing them in: these leaves collect a lot of dirt and soil particles in between their folds.
For salad dummies, this is the one you find tucked inside your Subways and Macs. For calorie counters, this one contains less than 10 calories per cup. The ice-green coloured round shaped leaves are crisp and very easy on the taste buds, adding more of a crunch than flavour. On the down side, the iceberg’s light hue means that it is less nutrition-dense than its duskier compatriots. It’s not completely barren, though, containing oodles of fibre, potassium, calcium, Vitamin A, C and most importantly folate, which means you are pumping in a good dose of iron into your system. The iceberg’s high water content also makes it a healthy choice for your healthy bowl.
You can spot this one easily, standing tall among its dwarfish cousins, with its elongated leaves and a thick, sturdy rib going straight down the centre. This bitter herb is a staple in Caesar salads. It is packed with Vitamins A, K, C, B1, folate and minerals like Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. This is an absolute must in the diet of the lactose-intolerant, who must look out for alternative sources of calcium. About two cups of this contains only 15 calories, so chomp on. If that was enough to convince you, here’s more good news: this is a heart-friendly green, with beta carotene and Vitamin C joining forces to prevent the oxidation of artery-clogging cholesterol collecting in your system. Fibre also makes your heart happy, stimulating production of bile, which ultimately breaks down cholesterol.
Arugula (Salad Rocket/rocquette)
The sheer variety of names by which this leafy green is known bears testimony to its popularity in the kitchen. Roquette, rucola, rugula, colewort, salad rocket, garden rocket – call it what you want. This somewhat snootier cousin of the humble cabbage may put you off with its pungency, but its strong peppery flavour makes quite a heady mix with shavings of parmesan. While choosing your bunch, go for the brightest and the softest you can find. 100 grams of this one – far more than you can eat in one meal – has only 25 calories. Arugula may be an acquired taste for some, but it can be a life saver. This is a rich source of phytochemicals, which helps prevent breast, cervical, colon, and prostate cancer. It also contains di-indolyl-methane (DIM), which boosts your immune levels. 100 grams of the fresh green contain 24 percent of folic acid, which makes it an ideal snack for moms-to-be and the little ones growing in them.
Popeye was on to something. This is one superfood that deserves a permanent spot on your plate. It keeps your heart healthy, prevents high blood pressure, fights the onset of osteoporosis, eases constipation, and keeps diabetes at bay. Its beta carotene, lutein and vitamin complex prevents cancer, and the more common malaise of advanced age: cataract. And unbelievable as it may sounds, it is high in protein! This makes it a must in a vegetarian diet. It’s also a good idea to consume it raw, in which state it is a stellar source of Vitamin C. Go for the softer, baby variety of the leaf for your salad bowl.
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