Eating o' the Green on St. Patrick's Day -- and Every Day
Include healthful green fruits and vegetables, nutritionists recommend
MONDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- On St. Patrick's Day, the wearing o' the green is a popular tradition.
Another good ritual is to include green vegetables and fruits in your diet all year round, say nutrition experts at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Green vegetables and fruits contain many important nutrients and are a part of a well-balanced diet, the UT dietitians said. Here are some of their recommendations:
- Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol. They're also a good source of both vitamin E and lutein, a natural antioxidant that may help maintain eye health.
- Broccolini, a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, is loaded with nutrients called isothiocyanates, sulforaphane and indoles, which are believed to reduce the risk of breast, prostate, cervical, lung and other cancers. Broccolini provides as much vitamin C as orange juice.
- Brussels sprouts also contain cancer-fighting phytochemicals. They're also high in vitamin C and a good source of folate, vitamin A and potassium. Small, compact, bright green spouts have the best flavor. Don't overcook them or they'll get mushy.
- Kale is a good source of vitamins K, C and beta carotene. A half cup of kale contains 1.3 grams of fiber but only 20 calories.
- Nopales -- also known as nopalitos or cactus pads -- are popular in the Mexican diet and are a great choice for people managing diabetes or high blood pressure. There are only 22 calories per cup, and they're high in fiber, calcium and potassium.
- Okra is low in calories, a good source of soluble fiber, and provides some vitamin A.
- Tomatillo, a common ingredient in Southwestern and Mexican cooking, is a good source of vitamin C and potassium. This vegetable, which looks like an unripe tomato covered in a paper-like leaf, is used in salsa verde and can be eaten raw, but cooking brings out its flavor.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables.
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