AHh, so it is, another year, another St. Patty’s Day. More green beer, more “Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirts, more Irish potatoes. What’s interesting , though, is that you would think we have been celebrating St Patty’s the entire last year as we have seen more “Go Green!” advertisements and products than ever.
With all this talking of going green, though, I think its time to approach the situation from a different angle. While I agree it is very important that we all start considering the impact our lifestyles, products and wastes are having on the environment, I will acknowledge that it can be a daunting task to undertake. Eco-friendly cleaning products and other household items can be expensive, especially during these financial times when there’s not a lot of green ($) to go around.
But rest assured because there is something a little easier to do. And that is to go green within our own personal environments, our own internal rainforests – our bodies! As the number one food missing in the modern diet, greens can clean and detoxify our systems like no other foods. This powerhouse food group is essential to health and liveliness – just think about it. The color green represents health, vitality and wealth. When viewed from space, one of our planet’s main colors is green. And as we approach spring, green landscapes will soon surround us.
So why go green? Well, there is enough information about the health benefits of greens to fill entire bookshelves, so I will just highlight a few items:
- Detoxify your system Greens work to strengthen and tonify your liver – an essential organ for filtering and removing wastes and toxins from the body. Not only will you clean out your system, but you will also boost your immune system and purify your blood. The best season for greens is the spring, when all the vegetation comes back to life and weeds grow like, well, weeds. Leafy greens work with your body’s natural cycles to help remove the excess fat and heaviness from the foods we ate all winter that keep us warm and grounded.
- Strong bones Certain greens like dandelion, beet greens, kale and watercress contain amounts of calcium comparable to dairy products – without the added calories and fat. Greens also supply the body with significant amounts of magnesium, a mineral we are increasingly deficient in. Furthermore, your body can not absorb calcium without magnesium, making greens essential for healthy bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.
- Cancer Prevention Green vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, are nutritionally dense and full of antioxidants. Free radicals (aka the bad guys) are unstable, cancer-promoting molecules. Antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E are found in high amounts in leafy greens and help to rid the body of free radicals. Greens are also very high in iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, folic acid, fiber and chlorophyll. Just talking about them makes you feel better already, right?
- Environmental Impact More water and waste management goes into growing a pound of beef than you can imagine. Eating fruits and vegetables produces much less waste, helps conserve energy
So, find your pot of gold and lucky four-leaf clover in the produce section of your grocery store or, even better, visit a local farm for local greens to spring you into the warmer months. Now is the time of year when greens are in season, so that means they will also taste the best! Experiment with greens you never heard of, use fresh herbs in soups and sauces and find ways to add more green to your life. You’ll feel better and look better. And, no, you won’t turn green.
Maura Manzo is a holistic health counselor and manager of RYAH Yoga and Health. She sees clients individually, teaches nutrition classes and presents workshops on a variety of topics. For more information or if you need help with incorporating a healthy diet into your lifestyle, visit www.mauramanzo.com or www.ryahyoga.com