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Greens: A Nutritional Profile

Greens: A Nutritional Profile

Leafy dark greens boast an impressive nutritional profile.

Rich in vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, they are also good sources of calcium and magnesium, iron, and folic acid.

Greens also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are believed to help protect against cataracts External Link and macular degeneration.

Let's cover some of the most nutrient rich, vitamin packed greens and the nutritional health benefits derived from them.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens One of the milder of the sturdy greens, collards are an excellent source of folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene.

Collards are especially high in calcium.

Bok Choy

Bok Choy Bok Choy is a Chinese variety of cabbages. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and iron, as well as a good source of folate, vitamin B6 and calcium.

Avoid buying bok choy that has brown spots on it, because it indicates some flavor has been lost.


Kale Greens While sweet following a light frost, kale generally has a stronger flavor than collard greens and can be quite coarse and peppery when raw. To ensure a milder texture and flavor, choose smaller kale leaves and cook them until tender.

In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, kale is also a good source of iron, vitamin B6, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens Mustard greens have an even stronger flavor than kale, but milder varieties are grown in Asia and are sometimes available in the United States.

Mustard greens taste best when they are six to 12-inches long and have no seeds.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin E, a nutrient that is usually only found in high-fat foods. It is also high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and beta-carotene.

To preserve the crispness and sweetness of Swiss Chard, be sure to keep it chilled.


Spinach Greens Spinach is mild enough to be enjoyed both raw and cooked and contains carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Besides carotenoids, spinach is higher in folate than other greens.

Cooking spinach with a small amount of fat, such as olive oil, will enhance the availability of these nutrients.

Beat Greens

Beet Greens Rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium, beet greens are often more nutritious than beets (with one exception: Beets are higher in folate).

Beets are best for eating when young and tender.

Turnip Greens

Turnip Greens The leafy tops of turnips are one of the bitterest greens available, so they are not often eaten raw. Like beet greens, they are best for eating when they are quite young.

Although both turnips and turnip greens are nutritious, the best source of vitamins and minerals is the greens, which are high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate.

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