St. Patrick’s Day is coming and green is the theme. Green is also the color of March and a good time to “go green” by adding more GREEN fruits and vegetables to our daily diet and reap the benefits of better health by eating GREEN —fresh green foods, that is!
Jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and healthy phytochemicals, green fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest produce nature has given us. Here’s why.
Green fruits and vegetables are:
– Nutritional power house foods, especially dark green leafy vegetables,
– Loaded with Vitamins—A (as Beta Carotene), B6, C, E and K*,
– Loaded with minerals—calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium,
– Contain antioxidants to fight free radicals and reduce cancer risk,
– Contain health-promoting phytochemicals (from the green color pigment chlorophyll) such as lutein for eye health and reducing age-related macular degeneration (AMD),
– Typically low in calories and high in fiber – dark green leafy vegetables top out at only 10 to 25 calories per half-cup serving, and
– Easily incorporated into diet raw or incorporated into soups, stews, salads, stir fries, casseroles, and so much more.
There are plenty of green fruits and vegetables to choose from. Some of the best nutrient-packing greens to incorporate into your diet to feel your ‘green’ in a good way include:
Leafy green lettuce
Collard greens, Swiss Chard
Fun tips to get green foods into your diet:
- Add bright green vegetables to a party tray.
- Add a green salad as a side dish to lunch or dinner using lots of greens, green peppers, green onions, etc.
- Make the color pop in broccoli and green peas by blanching them briefly in boiling water, then put them into ice water to stop the cooking process. This enhances the green color to make those vegetables more appetizing.
- Include kiwi fruit, green grapes and/or honeydew melon in your fruit salad.
- Add avocado slices to toast, salads and sandwiches. To maintain the green color, eat avocados immediately or sprinkle them with lemon or lime juice. 2 tablespoons of avocado have about 5 grams of fat which is mostly heart-healthy Omega-3 monounsaturated fat.
- Enjoy your favorite veggie dip with broccoli florets, pea pods, and celery or a favorite fruit dip with green apple slices.
- Make a vegetable pizza with green peppers, asparagus, and/or spinach.
- Serve thinly sliced green onions over rice, pasta, broiled or baked fish or soups.
- Add sautéed spinach and kale to egg dishes or fresh spinach and kale to smoothies.
- Stir-fry with bok choy, collard greens, or Swiss chard.
- Roast broccoli and/or asparagus with other veggies.
Additional green ideas include spinach noodles, green vegetable soufflés and omelets; parsley garnish; pesto; cream of broccoli, celery, or spinach soup; finely diced spinach, kale, or green onions in chicken noodle, rice or orzo soups; or glazed kiwi over cake. For recipes and other tips, visit UNL Extension.
March is a good time to start the “go green foods” trend and enjoy the many health benefits from eating something GREEN!
*Limit intake of greens containing Vitamin K if you are taking blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin®). Eating too many foods rich in Vitamin K reduces warfarin’s effectiveness and may cause more clotting in the body. 
Go for the GREEN on St. Patrick’s Day, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, UNL Food
1Warfarin Diet: What Foods Should I Avoid?, Mayo Clinic, 2021
Eat Green for a Healthy St Patrick’s Day and Beyond, Utah State University Extension, 2016