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Quinn on Nutrition: Green is ‘in’ and not only for St. Patrick’s Day

March 21, 2016

My kids have memories of milk in the fridge mysteriously turning green on Saint Patrick’s Day each year. Of course I always pleaded innocent and blamed it on the leprechauns. 

Green shamrocks — so the story goes — were used by St. Patrick to teach the unchurched in Ireland about the Holy Trinity. And in our modern world, green in terms of food is "in."

Green vegetables "Greens are the No. 1 food you can eat regularly to help improve your health," says registered dietitian Jill Nussinow, a culinary educator and the author of The Veggie Queen. 

Green leafy vegetables like spinach, romaine and mustard greens have been identified as some of the top foods for the health of our brains, according to researchers studying the MIND diet — "Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay." In this study, at least one serving of a green leafy vegetable each day was associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease. One serving is defined as 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked green vegetable.

Other green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts are known as "cruciferous" vegetables. These foods are especially rich in sulfur-containing substances called glucosinolates that have been well studied for their cancer fighting abilities, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Green tea. Made from unfermented leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant, green tea contains a high concentration of powerful antioxidant substances that help protect the body from cellular damage and thus may play a role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease, according to scientists at the University of Maryland Medical Center. 

Health benefits have been reported in people who drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea a day, including caffeine-free varieties. 

A recent study from Penn State has one caution about green tea, however: Don’t consume it with an iron-rich meal. Iron in foods such as red meat, kale and spinach (greens!) can bind with the active ingredient in green tea and greatly reduce its beneficial antioxidant abilities. For the same reason, don’t gulp down your iron supplements with green tea, either, say these experts. 

Green cookware. One innovative product offered by COOKINA Cuisine (cookina.co) is a reusable baking sheet that can be used in place of foil, parchment or wax paper to keep baked food from sticking to pans. It maintains its non-stick surface up to 550 degrees F.  and can be reused several times, say its makers. That’s a great green idea.

Green beer? The dye used to make the color green in food comes from spinach, according to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). Chlorophyll in leafy greens forms the basis of many green food dyes, say these experts. Or the leprechauns may have done it…

 

 





 


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