Green drinks, often called green smoothies, can serve as a convenient way to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods in a single glass. While prepackaged and powdered green drink mixtures are available commercially, it is preferable to blend fresh greens at home, if you're interested in getting the most nutrition out of your green drink. Green vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and other plant nutrients that can help promote good health and prevent cancer.
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Rich in Vital Minerals
Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, bok choy, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, mustard greens and arugula, wheatgrass and collard greens can all be additions to any green drink. Many of these vegetables are high minerals, including potassium, calcium and magnesium. These minerals, which are known as electrolytes, are vital to health and survival. They control the transport of nutrients and waste in and out of cells. In addition, these foods are low in sodium -- a mineral that Americans commonly over consume.
High in Antioxidant Vitamins
Kale, spinach and salad greens are good sources of vitamins A, C, and E. These antioxidant vitamins play many important roles in the body, including regulating immune function and protecting cells from damaging free radicals. Broccoli, mustard greens and bok choy are rich in B-vitamins – nutrients that help the body convert food into energy. Dark leafy green vegetables are among the best sources of vitamin K and folate. Vitamin K is a nutrient necessary for blood clotting, and it can also protect against osteoporosis as well as inflammatory diseases. Folate is required for DNA replication and repair and can help prevent birth defects.
Nutrients for Cancer Prevention
Many green vegetables, including arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens and kale are part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in carotenoids, and other cancer fighting substances. These substances can protect cells from DNA damage, neutralize carcinogens, reduce inflammation, induce tumor cell death and they have antiviral and anti-bacterial properties, according to the National Cancer Institute. The Institute also notes that key studies have shown that the consuming cruciferous vegetables can protect against four types of cancer – prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer.
Weight Control and Intestinal Health
Green vegetables are ideal for weight management because they are high in fiber, low in carbohydrates and they have a low glycemic index – meaning they do not cause spikes in blood sugar, which can lead to stored body fat. The fiber in green vegetables helps regulate the digestive system and moves waste through the body, which promotes bowel health and a healthy body weight. These advantages can be particularly important for those with type 2 diabetes.
Don't Limit Yourself
Although green vegetables should serve as the base of a green drink, you can throw in many other healthy foods to add flavor and additional nutrients. A few examples include fruit, almonds, walnuts and other types of nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, berries low-fat yogurt and protein powder.