Green leafy vegetables are among the healthiest foods you can consume. They provide an array of nutrients, including calcium, iron, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. Let’s explore, Green Leafy Vegetables for Mental Health!
These nutrients are vital to your wellbeing and have been associated with improved physical and mental health. From lowering stress levels to promoting healthier brain function, leafy greens can help improve your overall mental wellbeing. This article takes you through the ten best leafy green vegetables to ensure you reap these benefits.
Best Leafy Vegetables for Mental Health
Spinach is a common leafy green vegetable packed with nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, magnesium, and antioxidants. These nutrients have been shown to improve brain function and promote cognitive health.
In one study, antioxidants in spinach, including flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds, were shown to suppress the onset of age-related cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience found that spinach may help improve cognitive function. The study found that participants who consumed spinach extract had better working memory and processing speed than those who did not consume the extract.
A different study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that spinach may help protect the brain from age-related damage. The study found that spinach compounds helped reduce inflammation and improve cognitive function in aging rats.
Spinach is also a good source of folic acid, which is essential for mental health. Folic acid helps produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression and anxiety.
Overall, spinach is a nutrient-rich leafy green vegetable that offers numerous benefits for mental health. If you are looking to boost your mood or protect your brain from age-related damage, consider adding spinach to your diet. See Spinach Pakora.
Kale is not only one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet, but it’s also been shown to improve mental health. It’s rich in vitamins A, C, and K, which are all essential for cognitive function and a healthy nervous system.
Furthermore, kale contains high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that have been linked to improved mood and decreased risk of depression.
Lastly, kale is high in folate, which plays an important role in brain development.
Kale may also provide other benefits including:
- Boosting immunity: Kale is high in vitamin C, which is essential for a strong immune system
- Detoxifying the body: Kale contains sulfur, which helps to detoxify the body and protect the liver
- Reducing inflammation: Antioxidants in kale can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body
- Regulating blood sugar: Kale is a low-glycemic food, meaning it won’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels. This makes it a good choice for people with diabetes or prediabetes
- Lowering cholesterol: The fiber in kale binds to cholesterol and helps to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.
- Preventing cancer: Kale is a good source of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which may help protect against cancer.
So if you’re looking for a superfood packed with nutrients that support your overall health, including improving brain function, kale should be your go-to green leafy vegetable! See, White Bean and Kale Soup, Warm Kale Salad.
3. Swiss chard
Swiss chard is another healthy vegetable packed with nutrients that are essential for brain health, including vitamins A, C, and E, folic acid, magnesium, and potassium.
These nutrients work together to boost cognitive function, improve mood, and protect against age-related mental decline. Swiss chard is also a good source of fiber, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent cravings.
In addition to being good for mental health, the potassium in swiss chard can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Swiss chard is also a good source of fiber, which can help to improve digestion.
4. Collard greens
Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain fiber, calcium, and iron. Studies have shown that eating leafy greens like collard greens can improve mental health.
One study found that participants who ate one or two servings of leafy greens per day had a lower risk of developing depression.
Another study found that green vegetables may increase serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical responsible for mood regulation and sleep patterns, among other things. In addition to their mental health benefits, collards are also packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that can boost your immune system. See Ethiopian Collard Greens and Vegan Southern-Style Collards Greens
Other benefits to expect from collard greens:
- Collard greens can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- They can improve your digestion and regularity
- Collard greens can lower your cholesterol levels and protect your heart health
- They can boost your immune system and help you fight off infections
- Collard greens can improve your bone health and prevent osteoporosis
- They can lower your risk for certain cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer
- Collard greens can help you manage diabetes by regulating your blood sugar levels
- They can also improve your skin health and give you a natural glow!
5. Mustard greens
Mustard greens are a nutrient-rich leafy green vegetable that can offer a range of benefits for mental health. Like other leafy greens, they are also high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and manganese. Mustard greens also contain sulfur compounds that can help protect the brain from damage.
Eating mustard greens may help improve cognitive function and reduce inflammation.
They are also a good source of B Vitamins, which have been shown to have an impact on mood. Research has found that people who consume more vegetables like mustard greens experience less anxiety.
One study reported that people who ate one or more servings of vegetables per day were 50% less likely to experience symptoms of depression than those who did not eat vegetables at all. Vegan Greens
Other reasons to eat mustard greens:
- They can help prevent cancer
- They can help boost your immune system
- They can help reduce inflammation
- They can help regulate blood sugar levels
- They can help promote healthy skin and hair
- They can help improve digestion
- They can help promote weight loss.
6. Turnip Greens
Turnips are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can significantly impact your health. They are high in folate, a B vitamin essential for cognitive function and mental health.\
They’re also a good source of magnesium, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mood. A serving of cooked turnip greens provides approximately 20% of the daily recommended intake for both folic acid and magnesium. Turnip Greens
7. Beet greens
Beet greens are one of the top green leafy vegetables for mental health. Beets contain high levels of betaine, a compound that helps protect cells from stress.
Beets also contain nitrates, which can help improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. These nutrients help to keep the brain healthy and functioning properly. Beet Greens
Beet greens are also a good source of folate, which has been shown to regulate mood.
- They are low in calories and fat, making them a great addition to a healthy diet
- Beet greens are a good source of fiber, which can help regulate digestion and promote a healthy gut
- The nitrates in beets greens can help improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure
- Beet greens are rich in antioxidants, which can help to protect the body against disease
- Magnesium in beets greens can help prevent cramps and other issues related to electrolyte imbalance
- Beet greens are a natural detoxifier and can help cleanse the body of toxins
- They can also boost energy levels and improve stamina
- Beet greens are a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different recipes.
Watercress is a dark leafy green that is often used in salads or as a garnish. This nutrient-rich vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and iron. Watercress also contains lutein, a compound that has been linked to improved cognitive function and mental health. In addition, watercress is low in calories and can be eaten raw. It’s best when chopped up and added to a salad or sandwich.
9. Romaine lettuce
Romaine lettuce is a great green leafy vegetable for mental health. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, including folate, magnesium, and iron. These nutrients are important for brain health. Romaine lettuce is also a good source of fiber. This helps to keep the digestive system healthy, which can also impact mental health.
10. Bok choy
Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage that is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folate. Bok choy is also a good source of magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
It has many health benefits. It can help to improve mental health by reducing stress and anxiety. Bok choy can also help to improve mood and memory. Additionally, bok choy can help to protect the brain from age-related damage.
Bok choy is a delicious addition to many dishes. It can be stir-fried, sauteed, or eaten raw in salads.
Delicious ways to include leafy greens in your diet
Add them raw to any salad
Leafy greens are a nutritional powerhouse, and adding them to your diet is a great way to improve your health. One delicious way to do so is in salads. Use them as a base for your salad. Start with a bed of lettuce, then add other greens like spinach, arugula, or kale. You can also add them to any grain or bean salad. Quinoa, lentil, and chickpea salads are all great options.
Eat them sautéed with other veggies
One of the easiest and most delicious ways to enjoy leafy greens is to sauté them with other veggies. Simply heat up some olive oil in a pan, toss in your favorite chopped veggies, and add a few handfuls of spinach or kale. Cook until the veggies are tender, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a side dish or over some cooked grains for a complete meal.
Add spinach to smoothies
Smoothies are a great way to get your daily dose of leafy greens! Just add a handful of spinach leaves to your favorite fruits and veggies, blend, and enjoy. You can also sneak spinach into pancakes and waffles by adding it to the batter. For an extra nutrient boost, top your pancakes or waffles with some sautéed spinach before serving.
Add kale chips as a snack
Kale chips are a great way to get your daily dose of leafy greens. They’re simple to make and can be enjoyed as a healthy snack or side dish. To make kale chips, simply wash and dry a bunch of kale, then remove the leaves from the stem. Next, toss the kale leaves with olive oil and sea salt. Spread the leaves on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until crispy. Enjoy!
Add to soups
Soups are a great way to sneak in some extra leafy greens. You can puree them into the soup so that you don’t even know they’re there or chop them up into bite-size pieces. Try adding some greens to your next soup recipe and see how you like it!
Juice your leafy greens for an easy and convenient way to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. Leafy greens can be juiced alone or combined with other fruits and vegetables for a delicious and healthy juice blend.
Add it to Pasta Dishes
One of the best ways to get your leafy greens to fix is by adding them to pasta dishes. This not only allows you to bulk up your meal with nutrient-rich veggies but also saves on cooking time since the greens can be cooked right along with the pasta.
The benefits of eating vegetables are endless, and eating leafy greens, in particular, can benefit your physical and mental health in many ways.
Some common green leafy vegetables include spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and lettuce. These vegetables are usually high in fiber and low in calories, which can help you feel full longer while cutting down on overeating and subsequent weight gain.
Additionally, leafy greens contain a good amount of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, K, folate, calcium, iron, and magnesium—all of which are essential for a healthy brain and overall wellbeing.
Leafy Green Recipes
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