6 Easy Ways to Eat More Leafy Greens

Leafy Greens


Have you had a serving of leafy greens today? Greens, such as spinach, Swiss chard, and kale, top the list of most nutrient-dense foods per calorie.

Few food choices pack so much nutritional punch with so few calories. With their high fiber, vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient content, they’re one of the best ways to boost the nutrient density of your diet.

One study even found that consuming one serving of leafy greens daily could delay cognitive aging. In the study, subjects who ate 1 or 2 servings of leafy greens daily had an equivalent cognitive aging score 11 years younger than those who don’t eat greens.

Despite their health benefits, are you having trouble getting enough of nature’s greens? Here are five tips for powering up your diet with leafy greens.

Buy Frozen Leafy Greens

One reason people don’t eat more leafy greens is they don’t like prepping them. One way to get their health benefits without the prep is to buy frozen leafy greens. Don’t worry! Frozen greens are as nutrient-dense or more nutrient-dense than fresh ones. When you buy fresh ones, they lose nutrients while they sit on store shelves and during transport to the store.

Frozen vegetables are frozen right after harvest, and freezing locks in their nutrients. Plus, they’re ready to prepare – no cleaning or chopping. Some of the easiest-to-find frozen greens include kale, spinach, mustard greens, and collard greens. Try a variety! You’ll enjoy their long shelf life; they’ll keep for months in your freezer.

Switch Leafy Greens for a Starchy Side Dish

Rice and potatoes get a little monotonous and they lack the nutritional value that leafy greens have. Sautee a side of greens as a substitute for starches on your plate. You’ll get more nutrients, and leafy greens are easier on your blood sugar and waistline. Try a variety of different greens as a side dish and eat more of your favorites.

Have a Green Smoothie for Breakfast

One of the tastiest ways to add more greens to your diet is to make a green smoothie. Use 1 part greens to 2 parts fruit to completely mask the taste of the greens, or 2 parts greens to 1 part fruit if you don’t mind tasting the greens a little.

Even with 2 parts green, the fruit usually masks the taste of the greens well. If it’s not sweet enough, add a little Stevia. As the base, use coconut or almond milk. Berries are an excellent fruit choice, as they’re among the most nutrient-dense fruits. Green smoothies will power up your energy level and give you a substantial dose of nutrients in a form you’ll enjoy.

Add Greens to More Foods

Be on the lookout for foods you can add leafy greens to. The obvious ones are soups, stews, salads, and wraps, but you can also top a pizza with leafy greens. Add leafy greens to an omelet or a frittata. You can even “sneak” greens into recipes by pureeing them and adding a small amount to a cake mix. Yes, people do it!

Switch potato chips for homemade kale chips. You can make them at home in an oven or a dehydrator. Hide them in other foods. Use spinach in place of lettuce in sandwiches or mix it in with tuna fish or chicken salad.

Add a handful of greens to any soup or pasta sauce during the last minute of cooking. Toss some fresh spinach into pasta or lasagna dishes or stir it into scrambled eggs just before they’re done cooking. Be a leafy green “opportunist.” Look for opportunities to add them to a recipe.

Grow Your Own Leafy Greens

What greater incentive to eat more greens than to grow them in your backyard? Growing your own veggies is rewarding and satisfying and can save you money. Plus, it’s rewarding to get leafy greens from your backyard rather than a supermarket. When you grow your own, you’ll also know exactly what type of pesticides or herbicides were used on them, if any.

Eat at Least One Salad per Day

Make at least one healthy salad a day and use a variety of leafy greens as a base. . A good base for a salad is two parts romaine lettuce, one part spinach, and one part arugula. You can then add whatever other vegetables you like — carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and bell peppers are all great options. The darker a leafy green is, the higher its nutritional density.

Don’t forget about watercress either. One study of nutrient density ranked watercress the highest in nutrients per calorie. Its peppery test will add bite to your salad too. Balance it out with cheese or something healthy but sweet, like berries. Add an olive oil-based dressing. The fat in the olive oil boosts the absorption of beta-carotene, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, in leafy greens. Beta-carotene is also a precursor to vitamin A.

The Bottom Line

Leafy greens are among the most nutritious of all foods. They’re chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and now you know how to add more to your diet. Which leafy greens will you try first? Experiment with different varieties and enjoy them raw and cooked. Raw preserves more of their vitamin C while cooking reduces oxalates, compounds that reduce mineral absorption. To lower the oxalate count of greens, even more, choose kale over spinach or arugula. Enjoy a variety of greens and reap the health benefits.


  • “The Health Benefits of Leafy Greens – Consumer Reports.” 27 Jan. 2020, consumerreports.org/nutrition-healthy-eating/health-benefits-of-leafy-greens/.
  • Morris MC, Wang Y, Barnes LL, Bennett DA, Dawson-Hughes B, Booth SL. Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study. Neurology. 2018 Jan 16;90(3):e214-e222. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004815. Epub 2017 Dec 20. PMID: 29263222; PMCID: PMC5772164.
  • “Nutritional components in green leafy vegetables: A review.” phytojournal.com/archives/2020/vol9issue5/PartAI/9-5-258-155.pdf.

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