Green leafy vegetables: What do they bring to our body?


Watercress, lettuce, chard, spinach... Green leafy vegetables allow a huge variety of culinary uses: raw, in broths, salads, creams, sautéed, etc. In addition, they are a fundamental part of a healthy and balanced diet, as they provide vitamins, fiber and other beneficial nutrients for our body


The Nutrition Alphabet focuses, this week, on the nutritional value of watercress and other green leafy vegetables, which together with the fruit are recommended to take daily.

Watercress are tender shoots in the cruciferous family such as cabbages.

They are grown all year round, although the time where they are most tender is autumn and winter.

Both the leaf and the stem are consumed and its flavor is fresh and spicy, similar to that of mustard.

To select the best watercress, it is advisable to choose very green, turgid and fresh bunches without damage to the leaves and reject the musts or yellowish.

"Watercress just like other vegetables are low in energy and high in fiber, although the amounts that are usually consumed are relatively small because of their weight-to-volume ratio," says Laura González, Nestlé's Head of Nutrition and Health.

They are also rich in vitamins such as A, K, C, folic acid, manganese and provide calcium and potassium.

The expert warns that although those marketed are grown in controlled waters "wild water growing in contaminated waters may have parasites that affect the liver or digestive system."

The most common way to consume them is in salads, alone or mixed with other vegetables and seasoned with various sauces (the vinaigrette is especially good for you).

Vegetables or vegetables?

To this question, Laura González explains that vegetables are vegetables whose edible parts are the green parts as leaves and stems.

However, the term is commonly used to refer to vegetables in general.

The vegetables usually found on the market are lettuces, spinach, canons, calms or cabbages, among others.

They are generally low-energy foods characterized by natural sources of potassium, manganese, niacin and vitamins C and K.

Others also stand out for their contribution of vitamin E and folic acid such as chard and spinach.

When keeping them should not be left at room temperature, as they are dehydrated quickly.

"The best storage space is the refrigerator, whole and uncut and in perforated or open bags. Ideally, consume them before the color of their leaves turns to yellow," recommends the specialist.

Raw consumption can be washed, cleaned or centrifuged to store in bags or in large, aerated containers for consumption in up to 2-3 days.

In packaged ones, Gonzalez indicates that the best indicator is the expiration date, as well as observing its color, hydration or excess moisture.

Culinary uses

Green leafy vegetables provide a wide variety of options to choose from when consuming them.

For example, chard, cabbage or spinach are ingredients in numerous recipes for legumes and eggs, stews, boils, tortillas, sautéed, creams or soups.

They can also be part of salads when their leaves are very tender.

"Referring to canons, water flats, arugula and lettuce are normally consumed raw as part of salads, although they can be part of cooked dishes such as omelets, pizzas and hot and cold creams," says nutritionist.

Other options such as broccoli can be taken in salad or cooked and jumped along with other ingredients.

"Broccoli, in particular, are consumed cooked with potatoes, legumes, broths and meats," he says.

Some recommendations

To take better advantage of the nutritional value of these green leafy vegetables it is advisable to avoid storing them for many days in the fridge, prefer consumption fresh and raw or take advantage, if possible, of their outer layers and leaves.

The expert advises cooking techniques that do not require direct contact with water such as steamed cooking, microwave, oven, sautéed, grilled, etc.

"The shorter the cooking time, the less loss of nutrients," he says.