It’s St Patrick’s Day, so why not get into the spirit by adding more green fruit and vegetables to your menu? We know that eating more fruit and vegetables, in general, is linked to better health, and green fruit and vegetables are no exception to the rule. Green-coloured fruit and veg are loaded with vitamins A, C, and E, fibre, folate, potassium, and phytochemicals like lutein, which all play an important role in keeping us healthy.
Here’s how your health will benefit from adding more green fruit and vegetables to your diet:
- Boost your muscle function: Green leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, spinach, Romaine lettuce, and cabbage are rich in nitrates which may boost muscle function. According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition, people who regularly ate green leafy vegetables every day had significantly better muscle function of their lower limbs than people with lower intakes1. Adding one cup of green leafy vegetables to your daily intake is an easy way to boost muscle strength and function. Just remember, you’ll still need to hit the gym and keep active to see the most benefits in muscle strength and function.
- Keep your mind sharp: Slowing mental decline could be as simple as adding more spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens to your diet. In fact, making just one serve of green leafy vegetables part of your daily diet has been found to keep your mind sharp as you age2. Nutrients like vitamin K, lutein and folate are behind their brain-boosting benefits.
- Keep your gut healthy: Green fruits and vegetables like green apples and broccoli are rich in fibre and antioxidants, both of which help to promote a healthy gut. Research shows eating apples result in positive changes to gut bacteria3, while broccoli helps to maintain gut barrier function by reducing inflammation in the gut4. It appears keeping your tummy happy might be as simple as eating an apple a day and adding broccoli to your next stir-fry.
- Boost your mood: Did you know that what you eat can affect how you feel? Avocados contain a brain-loving bundle of nutrients like niacin, folate, potassium, and vitamin B5 that help to put you in a good mood, boost your energy levels and help fight fatigue5. It’s the ultimate food to help you power through your day.
- Protect your eyes: Leafy greens contain an array of antioxidants – vitamin C and E, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin – which have been found to help slow the progression of eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration6.
6 ways to include more green fruit and vegetable into your diet
With all the amazing benefits from including more green fruit and vegetables, here are some easy and practical ways to add them to your diet:
- Replace spreads like honey and jam with avocado on your morning toast. For added flavour, add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt.
- Add green juice to your breakfast. Enjoy carrot, celery, apple, and kale, or cucumber, green apple, celery, and kale.
- Make sure you have at least one green vegetable like spinach or broccoli or green capsicum at both lunch and dinner.
- Snack on a green fruit like kiwi fruit, green apple, pear, green grapes, or honeydew melon.
- Add baby spinach to your chicken pasta, vegetable risotto, or quiche.
- Add grated zucchini to your favourite corn fritter recipe and enjoy with poached eggs and salmon.
- Sim M, Blekkenhorst L, et al. Dietary nitrate intake is positively associated with muscle function in men and women independent of physical activity levels. J Nutr 2021;151(5):1222-1230.
- Morris M, Wang Y et al. Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: prospective study. Neurology Jan;90(3):214-222.
- James-Martin G, Williams G, Stonehouse W. Translating the scientific evidence for apples and pears into health messages. Report for HIA. November 2016. [insert link]
- Hubbard T, Murray I et al. Dietary broccoli impacts microbial community structure and attenuates chemically induced colitis in mice in an Ah receptor dependent manner. Journal of Functional Foods 2017;37:685-698.
- Dreher ML et al. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2013;53:738–750
- Sommerburg O, Keunen J et al. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin: the macular pigment in human eyes. Br J Ophthalmol 1998;82;907-910.