The 10 Best Leafy Greens
Find out if kale really is king and iceberg sinks when it comes to nutrition
Whether it’s walking to work, installing a low-flow showerhead, or recycling more often, it’s important to live a little greener. The same holds true for your diet. Saturated in an alphabet of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, leafy greens are the MVPs of the supermarket produce section. And if you need more incentive to toss bunches of kale into your grocery cart, a daily serving of leafy green vegetables may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent, according to a recent study in the British Medical Journal.
In general, the deeper the green the more nutritional firepower the leaves contain. To help you zone in on the heavyweights, we’ve ranked ten greens from healthiest to least healthy based on their nutrient density and suggested ways to eat your fill without resorting to humdrum salads.
Here’s proof that great things come in small packages. Microgreens—which are the underdeveloped greens of vegetables such as kale, arugula, and broccoli that are harvested just one to two weeks after planting—are a treasure trove of vital nutrients. A 2012 study lead by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that several varieties of microgreens including cabbage and cilantro contain nutrient levels such as vitamins C and E up to six times greater than those found in the mature plants. During early development, vegetables need a full arsenal of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support their growth, so they’re packed with more of the good stuff. Ranging in flavor from peppery to tangy, use microgreens to punch up salads, soups, and sandwiches.
Eat outside the bowl: Place 1 packed cup microgreens, 1 chopped shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined. With the machine running, pour in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil through the feed tube and blend until just slightly chunky. Serve this vibrant sauce over fish or chicken.