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Are You Eating Enough Green Vegetables?

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 26 May 2016
Hits: 7615

Only 25% of the people we talk to about food eat three or more servings of vegetables a day! And the ones they do happen to eat are not often green leafy vegetables or cruciferous veggies. If you are in the majority who is not eating enough veggies full stop, you are missing out big time on major benefits, as these food groups are one of the pivotal cornerstones to optimal health. Just doing more workouts is a waste of time if you are not getting your nutrition right. The more unhealthy you are the more important green vegetables & cruciferous foods become. Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else. Plant chemicals called phyto-chemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA.

What Does Research Say About The Value Of Green Vegetables?


Studies have repeatedly shown that people with higher vegetable intake have:

  • Lower risks of stroke & type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease and heart disease      
  • Lower risks of certain types of cancer, eye diseases and digestive problems       
  • Reduced risk of kidney stones and bone loss
  • Higher scores on cognitive tests               
  • Higher antioxidant levels             
  • Lower biomarkers for oxidative stress

When we fail to take in enough antioxidants our body undergoes a greater degree of damaging oxidative stress. When we live in a constant state of oxidative stress it can lead to chronic inflammation and eventually disease. Green vegetables are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease since they are high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene.

One study showed that an increment of one daily serving of green leafy vegetables, lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11 percent. Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also valuable for persons with type 2 diabetes. An increase of 1 serving/day of green leafy vegetables was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of diabetes. The high level of vitamin K in greens makes them important for the production of osteocalcin, a protein essential for bone health.

The risk of hip fracture in middle-aged women was decreased 45% for one or more servings/day of green, leafy vegetables compared to fewer servings. I highly suggest reading our article on how to reduce arthritis symptoms and improve bone density to see more about this. Ensuring your body has the essential vitamins and minerals when you are injured is very important. Unfortunately not many physicians would even ask you what you are eating as they feel it plays no factor in helping you with an injury.


The more injured you are, the better your diet must be- PERIOD!

If you don't believe me that nutrition plays a part then read our in depth article on Why Nutrition Is Important For Back Pain

Green vegetables are also a major source of iron and calcium for any diet. Green leafy vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, which can also be converted into vitamin A, and also improve immune function.

Millions of children around the world have an increased risk of blindness, and other illnesses because of inadequate dietary vitamin A from green leafy vegetables. Lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids found in dark-green leafy vegetables, are concentrated in the eye lens and macular region of the retina, and play a protective role in the eye. They protect against both cataract and age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of blindness in the elderly.

Some studies suggest that lutein and zeaxanthin may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast and lung cancer, and may contribute to the prevention of heart disease and stroke. Green veggies contain a variety of carotenoids, flavonoids and other powerful antioxidants that have cancer-protective properties. In our Lift For Life Cancer Exercise Class we discuss this in great detail and find that not many clients are eating anywhere near enough greens!

In a Swedish study, it was reported that eating 3 or more servings a week of green leafy vegetables significantly reduced the risk of stomach cancer, the fourth most frequent cancer in the world. Cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli are rich in indoles and isothiocyanates, which protect us against colon and other cancers. Broccoli sprouts have been reported to contain 10 or more times as much sulforaphane, a cancer-protective substance, than does mature broccoli. A higher consumption of green leafy vegetables has been shown to significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer and skin cancer.

Can't I just get these vitamins from supplements or multi vitamin tablets?


No! It does not work that way as much as it sounds so much easier just to swallow a tablet and still eat crap processed foods.

Just like it is so much easier to get a surgeon to operate and "fix" your knee problem instead of putting in the effort to strengthen and learn how to move correctly. It is time for people to realize that the body is much more complex than replacing a part or swallowing a tablet to fix a hole.

The actual definition of the word supplement means to replace something that is missing. Meaning it is not missing in the first place we do not have to replace anything. We do not eat food by ingesting vitamin c on it's own, vitamin b on it's own etc because these vitamins are combined with many things within each food group. Meaning we do not digest and use vitamins and minerals that way either!

The fat-soluble vitamins not only synergize with each other, but cooperate with many other nutrients and metabolic factors such as magnesium, zinc, fat, carbohydrate, carbon dioxide and thyroid hormone. The fat-soluble vitamins work most safely and effectively when we obtain them from natural foods by eating a diet rich in quality and variety.

If you are a person who believes that supplements are the way to go make sure you read our article Do I Need Supplements To Be Fit And Healthy for more information as you will find out you have been wasting not only your money, but a lot of time and your health! Just eat good organic food!

What About Weight Loss?

Nearly everyone would love to lose a few kilos and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that eating more vegetables can help significantly with this goal.

Green vegetables compared to processed foods is no comparison in how much energy or calories between the two. Not that weight loss is about calorie counting. If you do not know what I mean by that make sure you go and read this article right now (Counting calories is a waste of time for weight loss) My point here is that can load up your body with a stack of vitamins and minerals without leaving your body with excess energy to be converted into fat. Your body will recognize these foods as essential and put them to good use.

Processed foods however have little nutritional value and will predominately be stored as FAT!

If you want to get in top shape eating a good variety of greens will get you off to a flying start! 

Green, leafy vegetables provide a great variety of colours from the bluish-green of kale to the bright green of spinach. Leafy greens provide an array of flavours, from sweet to bitter, from peppery to earthy. Young plants generally have small, tender leaves and a mild flavour. Many mature plants have tougher leaves and stronger flavours. Kale is a food absolutely loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients. 

Green leafy vegetables (like kale) are the best source for alkalizing minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, sodium, and potassium. These alkalizing minerals neutralize the acid foods we eat. Kale is better able to reduce cholesterol levels when it is lightly steamed than when eaten raw. Bok choy, and spinach provide a mild flavour while arugula, mizuna and mustard greens provide a peppery flavour. Bok-choy is one of my personal favourites and I love it either raw or cooked. In a stir-fry it is awesome, as it remains crisp, even when cooked to a tender stage.

Always choose crisp leaves with a fresh vibrant green colour. Yellowing is a sign of age and indicates that the greens may have an off flavour. Salad greens provide a whole range of important nutrients and phytochemicals to keep us healthy. In the winter I eat more broccoli, green beans, asparagus etc and in the summer more lettuce, cucumber, kale etc.

What If You Don't Like The Taste?

Well there is many ways to get around this one. For starters you could try juicing. Vegetable juicing is one of the fastest ways to get a lot more of the key vegetables straight into your system. Just make sure you don't juice too many fruits. Read our article on Vegetable Juicing to find out more and also get a kick butt recipe.

Another way to get more into your diet is by eating more stir-fry or finding ways to mix it into meals that are normally lacking these ingredients. For example you could add some spinach or broccoli to your mushroom risotto or even a pasta dish. Don't forget to use spices to flavour it up even more. 

Get a copy of our special report on nutrition below for tons of information and recipe ideas of how to include vegetables in your diet that taste great.


Well I hope this article sheds some light as to the amazing benefits of eating your green vegetables. Whether your goal is to lose weight, get fit, eliminate disease or recover from injury these foods are absolutely loaded with the nutrients your body is looking for to heal itself and become stronger. As I said at the beginning only 1 in every 4 people we meet eats enough of these amazing foods. Without them you are setting yourself up for failure with your health and fitness goals and potentially a chronic disease! So please start getting more on your plate more often today!

For more ideas and information on specific topics I may not have covered in detail be sure to check out our INDEX PAGE on the website that has over 300 of our best articles. These are all sorted into categories for quick reference so you can find what you are after more easily. You can also subscribe to our FREE fortnightly newsletter by clicking here.

If you do need specific help with your exercise program please feel free to reach out to me for help and we can set you up with your individualised program.

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 15 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specializes in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.

Additional References:

  • Obesity Paradox - By Carl J. Lavie M.D.
  • How To Eat, Move & Be Healthy by Paul Chek
  • Heart foundation
  • Precision Nutrition 
  • Nutrition & Physical Degeneration - By Weston A Price
  • Big Fat Lies - By David Gillespie