St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just a good reminder to wear green—it’s a great cue to eat green, too. After all, isn’t cabbage a part of the iconic meal of the day, partnered with corned beef or ham? Green foods, like this Irish specialty, have plenty going for them in the nutrition department. Best of all: They tend to be low in calories and, according to research, could help you prevent heart disease and cancer.
Ready for some green grub? Here are 10 green foods that ought to be on your plate, plus some delicious ways to enjoy them on Nutrisystem.
A half-cup serving of broccoli is only 15 calories, which means you can have seconds and even sprinkle some Parmesan on top without breaking the calorie bank. It’s also one of a number of green vegetables that contain calcium to help you build and maintain strong bones. Countless studies have been published that link broccoli and some of its plant chemicals to cancer prevention.
Before you boil your broccoli to mush, check out these tasty broccoli recipes that are sure to change your mind about this hearty veggie.
In the last few years, this leafy green has gone from salad bar garnish to nutrition stardom, thanks to its versatility and combination of nutrients. Kale delivers vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate. It’s also a plant source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s found mostly in fish and a boon for your heart. Like other leafy greens, kale gets its color from a couple of plant pigments that have been shown to promote eye health. Did we say versatile? Kale can green up a smoothie, fill out a soup and make a great alternative to fatty chips.
Even the simplest of vegetables contains important nutrients. Lettuce boasts vitamins K, A, folate and even a little bit of calcium—which is so important for aging bones. If your weight is an issue, lettuce, from butter to romaine, is so low in calories, you can fill up and still feel virtuous. Like other leafy greens, lettuce also contains plant chemicals that can help protect your eye health.
We love using lettuce as a wrap or bun stuffed with spicy buffalo chicken or even deli turkey or ham. Of course, it’s also a staple as a salad base like in this Asian Sesame Salad.
There’s a chemical in celery that can chill out your arteries, making artery walls more flexible to allow blood to flow. How cool is that? This reduces your blood pressure—a major effect for a veggie that’s frequently seen on a platter next to the ranch dip.
Its high potassium and provides a punch to blood pressure, as well. According to the Cleveland Clinic, eating just four stalks of celery—or one cup, chopped—is all you need to get its heart-healthy benefit. As if you needed any more reasons to believe celery is a great snack, you know it’s low in calories, too.
Get your daily dose with a delicious soup, such as Instant Pot Beef Stew. You can also enjoy it as a healthy snack in the form of Buffalo Chicken Celery Sticks.
This unassuming little fruit (berry actually) is gorgeously green inside. Kiwis are chock-full of antioxidants and high in both vitamin C and A. Most important, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) studies have found that kiwi’s antioxidants are more “bioavailable,” meaning they are easier for your body to use.
When the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center gave study participants a variety of fruit and analyzed their blood at the end, kiwifruit, grapes and wild blueberries topped the list for their antioxidant power. There’s even some evidence they may also help you sleep!
Kiwis are crazy delicious to eat (don’t peel—just cut in half and scoop!), but they’re just as awesome in drinks. Try out a protein-packed Kiwi Vanilla Smoothie or a refreshing Kiwi Strawberry Slushie to have some today. If you’d rather eat your fruit, make this Strawberry Kiwi Fruit Leather!
This humble salad topping and stir-fry ingredient contains, a compound called luteolin which has anti-inflammatory properties, according to research from the Agricultural Research Service, an arm of the USDA. This green food’s power is especially great for fending off arthritis or heart disease, since inflammation—a runaway action by the body’s immune system—plays a role in both.
A serving, other than being ultra-low in calories (30 calories in a whole cup, chopped!), actually provides 100 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin C, 11 percent of your vitamin A, and 15 milligrams of calcium. We use green bell peppers as bowls in our Saint Patrick’s Day Healthy Shamrock Dip recipe!
Like the robin, asparagus is the harbinger of spring. It’s high in folic acid which, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, may help protect you from pancreatic cancer. There are only about 25 calories in a serving of five extra-large spears (hold the butter!).
This supplies two grams of fiber, over 240 mg of potassium and about seven to eight percent of your daily requirement for vitamin C. It’s also high in glutathione which helps rid the body’s cells of toxins and pollutants. It also helps keep vitamins C and E in their active states. Don’t boil the life out of your asparagus.
Roasting brings out its natural sweetness. You can also make Air Fryer Asparagus if you’re in a pinch.
Sip and stay slim? A 2009 meta-analysis of research on the link between green tea and weight loss, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that plant chemicals called catechins, along with caffeine, in green tea may help you lose weight and keep it off. While green tea may not carry enough of this power to give up your other weight loss efforts, it can be that late afternoon pick-me-up to replace a vending machine snack. The hint of caffeine can give you the energy you need to get through the rest of your day.
Prepare a sweet and delicious drink using green tea with this Berry Hibiscus Green Tea with Coconut Milk. Matcha, a powder made from green tea leaves, also makes a delicious and colorful ingredient in many recipes like Matcha Blueberry Muffins.
Think of edamame as baby soybeans, picked before the beans have had a chance to harden. That makes them the perfect pop-in-your-mouth snack. Like soybeans, edamame contains plant chemicals linked to lower rates of some cancers and can support your cardiovascular system, when replacing foods that are high in saturated fats.
They’re high in protein too, so your snack will be a filling one. Try them as a delicious dip by preparing Edamame Hummus. You can even use them as a main ingredient in your next main course with our delicious recipe for Edamame Quinoa Burgers.
This vegetable, part of the cruciferous family and known for its anti-cancer properties, has been a staple of Irish cooking since before the 17th century, according to an article in Modern Farmer magazine. One half of a cup supplies 45 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement and two percent of your calcium needs. And it’s only 20 calories!
Use cabbage as the base of a healthy slaw or stir-fry. You can also try making Grilled Cabbage Steaks at your next cookout. Stuffed Cabbage is a classic main course that is filled with flavor and healthy ingredients. Finally, don’t forget about the St. Patrick’s Day tradition of Corned Beef and Cabbage! Make the classic soup, or try one of our creative takes such as Corned Beef and Cabbage Eggrolls or Quesadillas.