Kentucky’s summertime greens have nutritional benefits

Siddhi Shroff

Siddhi Shroff

Written by Siddhi Shroff, a registered dietitian at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

While summer may not have officially started yet, the season has begun in many ways.

Many greens are in season by the start of June. Think spinach, mustard, collard, turnip, beet greens, along with Swiss chard. But greens are more than a tasty benefit of the season. They are also rich in Vitamin A, iron, folic acid, potassium and calcium, which are all great for your overall health.

  • Vitamin A is great for vision, aids in growth and health of skin, and also helps maintain healthy teeth and tissue (soft and skeletal). It is also known as retinol for its role in pigmenting the retina in eyes.
  • Iron is needed for many reasons in our bodies. Iron is a part of hemoglobin and is needed to help make it. It also helps to carry oxygen to our lungs and the rest of our bodies, helps muscles to use oxygen, and is needed to make some hormones and connective tissue. If your body has too little iron, it can cause anemia, which is when your blood does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of the body.
  • Folic acid is one of the B vitamins required by your body. While it is especially important for pregnant women to prevent major birth defects, it is still essential to help the body make new healthy cells.
  • Potassium is an essential mineral that serves to regulate blood pressure, and it also helps nerve and muscle cells function.
  • Calcium not only helps to build strong bones and teeth, but it helps with blood clotting, muscle function, releasing hormones and regulating your heart rate.

Try this recipe to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet!

Mixed Greens, from National Cancer Institutes’s Down Home Healthy Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches mustard greens or kale.
  • 2 bunches turnip greens.
  • Pepper to taste (optional).
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste.

Directions:

  1. Rinse greens well, removing stems.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook greens rapidly, covered, over medium heat for about 25 minutes or until tender.
  3. Serve with some of the pot liquor (liquid from the cooked greens).
  4. If desired, cut greens in pan with a sharp knife and kitchen fork before serving.

Nutrition Content:

Makes 8 servings. Calories: 18, Total fat: 0.1g, Saturated fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 153mg, Dietary fiber: 2g.


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