Expand Your Veggie Options | Your Guide to Leafy, Green Vegetables

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Vegetables are one food group that you will always hear that you should eat. 

Whether you are on the Ketogenic diet, the Mediterranean diet, or just trying to increase your healthy eating, vegetables are essential.

One category of vegetables are leafy, green vegetables. 

Leafy, green vegetables have a positive reputation in the world of nutrition and healthy eating. 

Why?

These veggies are known to have a variety of vitamins and minerals. This is important for those who want to live healthy lives. 

The great thing about these vegetables is that there are many different kinds to choose from. 

In this article, you’ll learn more about leafy green vegetables. 

There are some that you may already know and others that you might not know. 

You’ll also get some tips on how to handle fresh vegetables. 

Look at the Table of Contents to navigate your way through this article. 

Why Leafy, Green Vegetables Are Important

fresh green herbs
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

One of the best motivating factors to increase your consumption of these vegetables is knowing their health benefits. 

Here are some of the health benefits provided by leafy and green vegetables: [1]https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/ [2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5772164/ [3]https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/your-ultimate-guide-to-leafy-greens/

  • Rich in Vitamin A: Vitamin A is important in maintaining healthy vision and healthy function of your immune system. [4]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-a-benefits
  • Rich in Vitamin C: Vitamin C is important to maintain the health of your bone, skin, and blood vessels. [5]https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219352.php
  • Rich in Vitamin E: Vitamin E is important because it helps protect cells from damage and helps your immune system fight infections. [6]https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002406.htm
  • Rich in Vitamin K: Vitamin K is essential in blood clots and bone metabolism. [7]https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219867.php
  • Rich in Folate: Folate is a B-vitamin that promotes heart health and reduces the risk of developing cancer
  • High in other B-Vitamins
  • Rich in Iron: Iron is needed to transport oxygen in your blood. [8]https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287228.php
  • Rich in Calcium: Calcium helps maintain healthy teeth and bones. [9]https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002412.htm
  • Rich in Potassium: Potassium has a range of significance, including helping to maintain fluid balance, helping your brain send nerve impulses, and helping to regulate heart contractions. [10]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-potassium-do#section4
  • Rich in Magnesium: Magnesium is involved in normal nerve and muscle function, a healthy immune system, and adjusting blood sugar levels. [11]https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002423.htm
  • Rich in carotenoids: These substances are important in both eye and cardiovascular health. They also help prevent the development of cancer. [12]https://www.healthline.com/health/carotenoids#benefits
  • Rich in other antioxidants that also protect against cancer as well as hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Reduces the incidence of Cardiovascular Diseases: such as heart attacks or strokes
  • Reduces the risk of Metabolic Syndrome: which is related to a disease such as Type 2 Diabetes

As you can see, there are a lot of great benefits from eating leafy, green veggies. 

Now, when you hear your doctor or friends harp about eating more vegetables, think about these benefits. 

Next, you’ll get a glimpse at many different kinds of vegetables that fall under this category.

Like I mentioned, some of them you may be aware of, but others could surprise you. 

Kale

fresh kale on white surface

If you have any experience with healthy eating, you may already be aware of this vegetable. 

Kale is so popular because it contains a lot of nutrients.

For example, one cup of kale has more than 100% of the daily value of Vitamins A, C, and K. [13]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2

Kale is also rich in a lot of other nutrients such as iron, calcium, and potassium. 

It also has antioxidants that are important for protecting against cancer. [14]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leafy-green-vegetables#section1

Kale is safe when eaten raw but beware of the mild, bitter taste. [15]https://greatist.com/eat/leafy-greens-guide-how-to-cook-and-store#11 

This taste becomes better when cooked. 

Although some nutrients disappear during the cooking process. [16]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22744944

How to Cook & Eat Kale

I was surprised by the different ways in which you can eat kale.

No wonder people advocate for it a lot.

It is very versatile.

Some ways you can eat kale:

  • Add it to your salads
  • Put it in your soups
  • Crips it in your oven and make kale chips
  • Sautee it in your frying pan
  • Steam it with boiling water
  • Make it an ingredient in your smoothie

Recipes with Kale

The following are some recipes you can try to include more servings of kale in your food. 

Feel free to explore more recipes. 

Arugula

fresh arugula on wooden table

Arugula is a vegetable that you can find in many salads or as a garnish. 

It is rich in Vitamins B9 and K, as well as pro-Vitamin A carotenoids. [17]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/3025/2

It is also high in dietary nitrate. [18]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leafy-green-vegetables#section10

According to this study, dietary nitrate can help lower blood pressure. [19]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4288952/

Arugula is known to have a sharp, peppery taste. 

How to Cook & Eat Arugula

The following is ways that you can use arugula in your daily life: [20]https://recipechart.com/recipes/articles/about-arugula

  • Steam it
  • Fry it on your pan
  • Replace lettuce with it in your sandwichs
  • Use it in your salads
  • Add it to your soups
  • Make it a topping in your foods such as pizza
  • Use it as your garnish

Recipes with Arugula

Check out some of these arugula recipes. 

Dandelion 

washed dandelion greens in collander

Seeing this item pop up during my research was a big surprise. 

I remember playing with dandelions as a child.

Dandelions are also known as weeds that can be hard to get rid of. 

It turns out that they are edible and contain many nutrients. 

Every part of the flower is edible. 

Dandelions are rich in Vitamin A, C, K, as well as folate, calcium, and potassium. [21]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2441/2

They also contain many antioxidants that protect against cell damage and have anti-inflammatory properties. [22]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dandelion-benefits#section2 [23]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5553762/#__sec21title [24]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6259627/#__sec9title

How to Cook & Eat Dandelions

You can cook and eat dandelions in these following ways: [25]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dandelion-benefits#section14 [26]https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/what-heck-do-i-do-dandelion-greens-180950389/

  • Can be eaten raw
  • The root can be dried and ground as tea
  • Sautee it on your frying pan
  • Add it to your egg dishes
  • Add it to your soup
  • Mix it with other greens to your salad

Recipes with Dandelion

There are two parts of dandelions you can get if you don’t get the entire flower: dandelion roots and dandelion greens. 

Check out these recipes and more:

Beet Greens

bundle of beets and beet greens
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

We have known about the benefit of eating beets for a very long time. 

However, many of us have forgotten about the leaves that are part of the entire beet plant. 

It turns out that they are just a nutritious as beets themselves. 

These leaves are what are commonly known as beet greens. 

Beet greens are rich in nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin K, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. [27]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2353/2

Beet greens are also rich in antioxidants that are beneficial for preventing eye diseases. [28]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leafy-green-vegetables#section6 [29]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13679014 [30]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1872023/

So the next time that you are thinking of disposing of those beet leaves, consider adding it to your diet instead. 

How to Cook Beet Greens

Beet greens seem sturdy, but they become tender after cooking them. 

Consider the following ways you might cook them: [31]https://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/15-ways-to-eat-beet-greens-article

  • Braise it in your skillet
  • Add it to your salads
  • Blend it into a smoothie
  • Add it to your soup
  • Ground it to make a dip
  • Steam it in your pot

Recipes with Beet Greens

Check out these beet greens recipes:

Spinach

Image by Shingo_No from Pixabay

Seeing spinach on this list shouldn’t be too surprising.

You can find spinach is a variety of recipes. 

As I am writing this, I am thinking about the old Popeye cartoon.

He would get stronger after eating some spinach. 

If you considering the nutrients in spinach, this image isn’t too far of a stretch. 

It is rich in Vitamin A & K, folate, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. [32]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2

How to Cook & Eat Spinach

  • Steam it
  • Saute it on your skillet
  • Add it to your soups
  • Put it in your salads
  • Add it to your pasta dishes

Recipes with Spinach

There are a lot of recipes that include spinach. 

Check out some of them below:

Cabbage

head of green cabbage
Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Another vegetable that you find commonly is cabbage. 

I see cabbage commonly in coleslaw. 

Cabbage is rich in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. [33]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2371/2

Cabbage contains compounds that help protect against cancer, such as lung cancer. [34]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leafy-green-vegetables#section5 [35]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11887749/

Fermented cabbage contains many probiotics, which are important for a healthy digestive system. [36]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19584499 [37]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24299712

Varieties of Cabbage

Multiple types of cabbage exist in the market. 

  • Green
  • Savoy
  • Red
  • Napa
  • Bok Choy
  • Brussel Sprouts

Both Bok choy and Brussel sprouts have sections in this article. 

How to Cook Cabbage

These are some ways to cook cabbage: [38]https://www.delish.com/cooking/a23026249/how-to-cook-cabbage/

  • Boil it in your pot
  • Roast it in your oven
  • Saute it in your skillet
  • Use it to make coleslaw
  • Steam it

Recipes with Cabbage

You can find many recipes that include cabbage, below are only a few:

Swiss Chard

fresh swiss chard on wooden table

This dark-green vegetable is related to beets and spinach. 

Due to this relation, its leaves taste a lot like beet greens and spinach. [39]https://greatist.com/eat/leafy-greens-guide-how-to-cook-and-store#17

Nutrients such as Vitamin K, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and Vitamin A are in swiss chard. [40]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2399/2

Swiss chard also contains antioxidants, one of which may help lower blood sugars according to this study. [41]https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814603002942

How to Cook Swiss Chard

Because it is related to beets and spinach, many of the ways to cook and eat swiss chard are similar: [42]https://www.wikihow.com/Prepare-and-Cook-Swiss-Chard

  • Cook it in your skillet
  • Steam it in your steamer
  • Braise it with your stew
  • Add it to your salad
  • Put it in your soup

Recipes with Swiss Chard

Bok Choy

bok choy chinese cabbage on wooden table

Bok Choy is a variety of cabbage that comes from Asia. 

It is known to have a lighter flavor compared to red or green cabbage. [43]https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/complete-guide-leafy-greens-besides-spinach-and-kale

Bok Choy contains a lot of nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin A, potassium, and Vitamin C. [44]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2377/2

Besides those nutrients, it also contains selenium. 

Getting selenium from the diet could help prevent thyroid disease, according to this study. [45]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5307254/#sec4title

How to Cook and Eat Bok Choy

Here are some ways to enjoy bok choy: [46]https://www.thekitchn.com/five-ways-to-eat-bok-choy-99051

  • Put it in your stir-fry
  • Add it to your salad
  • Add it to your soup
  • Saute it in your skillet
  • Steam it
  • Put it in your smoothie

Recipes with Bok Choy

Brussel Sprouts

brussel sprouts in bowl
Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

Brussel Sprouts are a variety of cabbage, which makes sense since they look like mini-cabbages. 

I remember not liking Brussel Sprouts as a kid. 

And I’m sure that I am not alone in that experience. 

I think it was the taste that turned me away from Brussel Sprouts. 

However, there are benefits to eating Brussel Sprouts that might make you reconsider your stance on this vegetable. 

It is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, iron, potassium, and iron. [47]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-brussels-sprouts#section1 [48]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2363/2

There is also a lot of fiber in Brussel Sprouts. [49]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2363/2

The researchers in this study found that Brussel Sprouts can help protect against cellular damage that could lead to cancer. [50]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18293303

How to Cook & Eat Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts have a bad reputation because of its bitter taste. 

How you cook Brussel Sprouts determines whether you get a desirable outcome from them. 

You don’t need to have a terrible experience to enjoy its benefits. [51]https://cooking.nytimes.com/guides/27-how-to-make-brussels-sprouts

  • Roast them
  • Saute them
  • Add them to your salad
  • Steam them
  • Add them to your soup

Recipes with Brussel Sprouts

Romaine Lettuce

head of romaine lettuce
Image by BlackRiv from Pixabay

There are so many varieties of lettuce available. 

And the nutritional value of these varieties is not the same. 

Thanks to its dark leaves, romaine lettuce happens to sneak in some nutrients. 

It contains folate, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, and potassium. [52]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2475/2

The researchers in this study also found that eating romaine lettuce gives you healthy antioxidants and lowers cholesterol levels. [53]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15297097

How to Eat Romaine Lettuce

Lettuce is a part of many salads, but explore some of these ways you might use romaine lettuce: [54]https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/use-up-lettuce-other-greens-before-they-go-bad-without-making-any-salads-0156937/

  • Use it to replace your hamburger buns
  • Replace your hotdog buns with it
  • Use it to replace bread in your sandwichs
  • Add it to your salads
  • Turn it into a juice
  • Put it in your stir-fry
  • Add it to your coleslaw

Recipes with Romaine Lettuce

Mustard Greens

head of mustard greens

Mustard greens are the leaves of the mustard plant. 

This makes it related to vegetables such as kale and Brussel Sprouts. 

As you might see from its name, mustard greens come with a kick. 

If you are a fan of such veggies, then you are in luck with mustard greens. 

These vegetables are also full of excellent nutrients. 

They have calcium, magnesium, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and phosphorus. [55]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2489/2

Some people might find their spiciness to be closer to bitterness. 

Not to worry, as there are many ways you might cook them to change that flavor. [56]https://www.cleanplates.com/know/nutrition/mustard-greens-the-new-kale/

How to Cook and Eat Mustard Greens

Here are some ways to enjoy mustard greens: [57]https://www.foodandwine.com/vegetables/greens/10-ways-use-mustard-greens

  • Add it to your soup
  • Add it to your stir-fry
  • Put it in your salad
  • Blanch it
  • Steam it
  • Turn it into a garnish
  • Saute them in your pan

Recipes with Mustard Greens

Collard Greens

collard greens in porcelain bowl
Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

If you go to the U.S. south, it would be hard not to encounter collard greens. 

They are known for having leaves that are both tough and bitter. 

Collard Greens are also known to be high in nutrients such as Vitamin K, Vitamin A, calcium, and magnesium. [58]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2411/2

How to Cook & Eat Collard Greens

Here are some ways you might cook and or eat collard greens: [59]https://www.thekitchn.com/10-ways-to-eat-your-collard-greens-240555

  • Replace buns with it in hamburgers or hotdogs
  • Replace bread with it in sandwichs 
  • Use it instead of tortillas 
  • Add it to your soup
  • Put it in your stir-fry
  • Put it in your salad
  • Add it to your smoothie 

Recipes with Collard Greens

Watercress

bundle of watercress
Image by DAW808 from Pixabay

This veggie is aquatic and is related to arugula and mustard greens. 

It has a slightly bitter and spicy flavor. 

Watercress was a herbal medicine for many centuries, though there haven’t been any human studies that have confirmed these benefits. [60]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/leafy-green-vegetables#section7

Watercress contains nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K. [61]https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2718/2

In one study, the researchers found that watercress protected against the growth of cancer cells. [62]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17044779

How to Cook and Eat Watercress

  • Add it to your soup
  • Put it in your salad
  • Replace lettuce in your sandwiches
  • Steam it
  • Put it to your stir-fry
  • Use it as a topping in your pizza
  • Replace bread in your sandwiches

Recipes with Watercress

Escarole

bundles of escarole
Image by Tony Prats from Pixabay

Escarole is a tricky vegetable because it looks a lot of lettuce at the market. 

The way to tell escarole from lettuce is that its leaves are jagged and crumpled together. 

This is different from lettuce that has smooth leaves. [63]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-escarole#what-it-is

Escarole is also a bitter vegetable. 

Another thing that is confusing about escarole is that it can be confused with endive. 

It is part of the endive family. When people talk about endive, they are usually talking about the Belgium endive. [64]https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-does-endive-mean-995658 [65]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-escarole#what-it-is

Escarole contains nutrients such as fiber, calcium, and Vitamin A. [66]https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/555096/nutrients [67]https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-escarole#nutrients

How to Cook & Eat Escarole

  • Saute it on your pan
  • Add it to your soup
  • Replace bread with it in your sandwiches
  • Put it to your salad
  • Add it to your noodle bowl
  • Grill it
  • Braise it

Recipes with Escarole

Finding the Best Leafy, Green Veggies

assorted vegetables
Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Looking for the best leafy, green vegetables at the market doesn’t have to be difficult. 

The vegetables that you want should feel firm and crisp. 

The vegetables should look similar in color to the pictures that you see above as well. 

Avoid vegetables where the leaves are starting to look wilted or turn yellow. [68]https://greatist.com/eat/leafy-greens-guide-how-to-cook-and-store#19

How to Store Leafy, and Green Vegetables

brussels sprouts in closed plastic bag

This article presents many different vegetables. 

While many of them are related to each other, that doesn’t mean that you should store them in the same ways.

The following are some tips for how to store these vegetables.

Storing Beet Greens

If you buy beets with the leaves still attached, remove the leaves before storing them. 

The leaves absorb the moisture from the beets. [69]https://greatist.com/eat/leafy-greens-guide-how-to-cook-and-store#20

These greens are better if used soon after removing the leaves from the vegetable. 

Storing Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kale, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens

These vegetables should be washed before storage because they usually have dirt stuck in them.

Swirling in them in water until the water becomes clear, works fine. [70]https://greatist.com/eat/leafy-greens-guide-how-to-cook-and-store#20

They should also be completely dried after washing them. 

If you want to cut down the leaves these greens, it is your choice to do so. 

Storing Romaine Lettuce

You can wash lettuce before storing it, or you can leave it unwashed until you are ready to use it.

If you decide to wash it before storage, make sure that you dry it as much as possible. 

Too much moisture makes it easier for the leaves to wilt. [71]https://greatist.com/eat/leafy-greens-guide-how-to-cook-and-store#20

Vegetables vs. Fruits

For organization’s sake, I know that I like to keep my vegetables and fruits together. 

I’m sure I’m not alone.

However, many fruits produce ethylene gas, which can speed up the rate at which vegetables spoil. 

Therefore, fruits and vegetables should be stored far from each other. [72]https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/add-color/keep-fruits–vegetables-fresher-longer

Methods to Store Fresh Vegetables

vegetables stored in plastic containers and plastic bags

You get through the hurdle of picking out the best green vegetables you could find. 

You have plans for what you want to cook or make with those vegetables. 

So it can be frustrating when those vegetables quickly become wilted in your fridge. 

If you suffer from this problem and want your leafy vegetables to last longer in your fridge, consider the following methods: [73]

  • Vegetables in a Plastic bag with Paper Towels: The vegetables are washed and then wrapped in paper towels. Then they are placed in a plastic bag. You push out all of the air. 
  • Vegetables in Plastic Containers with Paper Towels: The vegetables are washed and then placed on top of paper towels in a plastic storage container. Then another paper towel is placed on top of the vegetables. Then the box is closed. 
  • Vegetables in a Plastic Bag and Air: The vegetables are washed and put into a plastic bag. Then you blow enough air into the bag that it becomes inflated. Then the bag is tied closed. 

The people at The Kitchn tested these methods to see how long vegetables could last. 

All three methods kept the vegetables fresh for up to 7 days. 

By ten days, the storage container method had the least wilted leaves. 

Plus, this method decreased the amount of bruising due to the sturdiness of the container. 

In any case, you can try any of these methods yourself to see if they work well for you. 

Note about the Plastic Bags

It might be tempting, but try not to use those plastic bags from the grocery store to store your vegetables. 

I’ve done in the past, and my vegetables always became spoiled quickly. 

It was only after a while and some research that I discovered that those plastic bags were no good.

Summary

There are a lot of green, leafy vegetables that are available.

Some are popular such as kale or spinach.

Others were ones that I never heard about before, like Bok Choy or Mustard Greens. 

Learning about all these different varieties of vegetables should bring you one step closer to healthier eating. 

I hope you enjoyed this article. 

Like what you read? Share with your friends!

References   [ + ]

About Seun Oyeku

Seun Oyeku is part of the team that brings you the A Peek To Wellness blog. She has embarked on a journey to improve her well-being, and she's bringing everyone with her. She believes that wellness is about improving your physical, mental, and emotional health together. From topics such as in meditation or workouts, she strives to you to bring you the information that can lead to your success. Even if that means you have to take things one peek at a time. href="https://wwwapeektowellness.com/about/" target="_blank">Read more about me here

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