A four leaf clover isn’t the only thing you should stock up on for St. Patrick’s Day. Keep your nutrition on track with these five nutrient-packed greens that should find their way onto your plate!
The kale frenzy continues to push full steam ahead within the health and wellness community – and rightfully so. This nutrient-rich leafy green is commonly used as a salad base, a sautéed side or even sometimes, a crispy chip. Honestly, who kales how you eat it, as long as you do! There are many reasons why kale is causing such a frenzy. For starters, it contains an enormous amount of vitamins A and C, which help support your immune system and bone strength. Vitamin A also helps protect your sight – something a pickleball player definitely needs on the court! So, if you’re looking (pun intended) to keep your hand-eye coordination up-to-speed during matches, be sure to add a healthy serving of kale to your plate.
As a kid, broccoli was likely the bane of your existence during dinnertime. Many of us used to hate those “little trees,” but now, if you’re trying to incorporate nutritious foods into your diet, this cruciferous veggie definitely makes the cut on our list of must-have greens. A serving of broccoli contains approximately 10 percent of your daily fiber needs, which helps stimulate your digestive system while lowering cholesterol and glucose levels. On top of that, broccoli’s versatility means you can pair this vegetable with any main dish. If you’re not a broccoli lover, try roasting it with olive oil until the tops get crispy. The nutty, sweet taste and crunchy texture might surprise you – and your taste buds!
- Brussels Sprouts
Not only do these mini cabbages contain lots of fiber (three grams per serving to be exact!), they also contain Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that defends against lung tissue damage and helps maintain the health of your gums, skin, teeth and immune system. In fact, a serving of this delectable and versatile vegetable contains over 120 percent of the average daily value of Vitamin C – now that’s a lot! If you think you’re not a big fan of Brussels sprouts but are interested in reaping their health benefits, there are myriad tasty ways to prepare them. Slice into quarters and sauté until soft with a little butter, olive oil and a pinch of sugar, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Yum!
A serving of asparagus is filled with a variety of vitamins and minerals, most notably Vitamin K and iron. It’s an unfortunate truth, but as we age, our bones become less dense, leading to an increase in the risk of fractures. Luckily, Vitamin K supports bone metabolism, which in turn promotes stronger bone formation. Additionally, asparagus’s iron levels help transport oxygen from red blood cells to the muscles. This is essential for pickleballers, since it helps with athletic performance and energy metabolism.
- Green Lentils
Here’s the low-down on lentils and why they should be on your plate: First, lentils are a good source of folate and magnesium, which are both important nutrients for heart health. In fact, magnesium improves blood flow and helps keep muscles strong. Because of the fiber and complex carbohydrate content, lentils create steady, slow-burning energy. This will help keep you from feeling a surge of energy and then crashing soon after. Finally, on the long list of varieties of legumes and nuts, lentils rank as the third-highest protein source. In fact, a serving of lentils contains 17 grams of protein, which can give you the power that you need to succeed during a pickleball match!
Whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day or not, consider adding these five nutritious green options to your plate to reap their health benefits!