By Hillary Oneto, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC
Wearing of the color green is customary on St. Patrick’s Day and that celebration has trickled down to include a myriad of green foods, everything from baked goods to beer. But if you plan to add St. Paddy’s Day flare to your menu, look to nature, not artificial dye, to bring the luck ‘o the Irish!
Here are five green foods to add to your menu or your everyday diet:
Avocados contain cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat, are rich in vitamin E and contain an antioxidant called lutein that protects eye health. Add avocados to your sandwiches, salads, tacos or as a garnish on soups and chili.
One serving of kiwi fruit contains almost twice the amount of vitamin C as an orange, more potassium than a banana and is a good source of vitamin E and folate. Kiwi fruit is also a good source of fiber and can help keep you feeling full. Add kiwis to your fruit salads, mix into yogurt or eat alone as a snack.
Green Bell Pepper
Just as important as their colorful counterparts, the green bell pepper is a great source of vitamin C, beta carotene, folate and vitamin K. Try them added to salads, scrambled eggs, stir fries, soups and chili, or dip slices in hummus as a nutritious snack.
Whole soybeans, a longtime staple in the Japanese diet, pack a nutritional punch. One half-cup serving of shelled edamame provides nine grams of fiber (the same as four slices of whole wheat bread or four cups steamed zucchini) and 11 grams of plant-based protein. It also has vitamins C and A and as much iron as one four-ounce roasted chicken breast. Research shows edamame may have several important health benefits including lowering cholesterol levels and protecting against some cancers. Eat steamed edamame straight from the pods for a snack, or try adding to salads, stir fry, pastas and soups.
Green tea is rich in catechins, a type of disease-fighting flavonoid and antioxidant. Flavanoids are powerful antioxidants that fight disease and may help prevent cell damage. Research has shown green tea to be packed with health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as keeping blood sugar levels stable in those with diabetes. Enjoy sipping on iced green tea during the day, or the calming benefits of a hot cup to wind down your evening.