We talk a lot about how vegetables should make up the majority of your food, around 60-80%, because veggies are the highest in vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, fiber and more. You know – they have the stuff that makes us healthy, energetic and beautiful. But I want to break veggies down a little more and highlight the differences between dark greens and hydrating greens, and which one is gonna fill you up the longest.
Dark greens, (things like broccoli, kale, dandelion greens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, spinach, bok choy, and swiss chard), are the veggies we hear about a lot. And that’s great because they’re the absolute highest in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Hydrating greens are those foods like watercress, endive, lettuces (like romaine, green leaf, mixed, red leaf), cucumbers and celery. These greens are mainly made up of water with some fiber. Yes, they have some vitamins and minerals, but less so than dark greens. These hydrating veggies are also faster and easier to break down in the body. That’s why you feel hungry after only an hour of eating them! But don’t worry, that just means your digestion is working well.
These hydrating greens make a perfect starter for a meal, a light nutritional snack or a meal on a hot day. Just remember, these hydrating greens are not going to be the leafy green vegetable to choose if you want to feel fuller for a longer period of time.
Now, take a look at a piece of kale. Kale is a dark green that is dense, hearty and tougher to break than the hydrating greens. Dark leafy greens have less hydration, but more vitamins, minerals and fiber. That means it takes longer for your body to break these down, leaving you more satisfied and providing your body with more nutrition.
And each dark leafy green is different in texture and taste – some mild, some bitter, and each has different health benefits for your body. For example, the more bitter the green, the more cleansing for the liver. (The picture above is dandelion greens, which are fantastic for your liver). Cool, huh?
Hydrating greens are typically eaten raw because they’re mostly water and more delicate. The flavor is also typically mild. Dark greens can be eaten raw, but they can also be steamed, sir fried, put in soups and casseroles, or roasted. If you want to start with more mild greens, start with lettuces, cabbages, broccoli, kale and collards. For a more flavorful green, try mustard greens, broccoli rabe and dandelion greens. And don’t forget to pair these flavorful greens with mild greens or sweet vegetables to complement the taste.
So that’s it. Dark greens have more nutrition, keep you fuller longer and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Hydrating greens are packed with water to keep you hydrated, also contain a fair amount of nutrition, and are a great way to add greens into your day. Just remember, hydrating greens do not contain the same level of vitamins and minerals as dark greens, so eat as much as you want, but not in place of dark greens.
The best thing you can do for your body is get a variety of vegetables into your every day nutrition. Start by adding one new green vegetable a week and watch your health improve. Happy eating!