Food & Recipes

5 Leafy Greens That’ll Boost Your Mood, Burn Fat, Balance Blood Sugar, and More

Add more greens to your meals ASAP!

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Don’t forget about leafy greens while stocking up at the grocery store! Chowing down on a hearty salad or sautéing them as a side dish could be just what the doctor ordered to help keep you happy and healthy.

Take a look to see how you can feel your best with these in-season picks.

Blood Sugar Balancer: Chard

To keep your blood sugar steady and cut your risk of brain fog and nap attacks in half, nosh on 3 cups of chard weekly. According to Canadian scientists, chard contains a rare compound (syringic acid) that slows the breakdown of complex carbohydrates in the digestive tract by 40 percent, preventing blood-sugar surges after heavy meals.

Stomach Soother: Escarole

Tummy bothering you? Escarole can help! According to Belgian research, this mild, tasty green is rich in inulin, a unique type of carbohydrate that stimulates digestive enzyme production and soothes intestinal cramping, helping to relieve bloat, indigestion, and abdominal pain in as little as 30 minutes.

Joy Booster: Radicchio

If the day is sunny but you’re not, enjoying 1 cup of slightly spicy radicchio could boost your calm and contentment by 33 percent in just 30 minutes, say Yale University researchers. Credit healing compounds called phenolic flavonoids that heighten the brain’s production of mood-elevating hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. Tip: Radicchio leaves make fun “cups” to hold chicken, egg or tuna salad!

Fat Burner: Spinach

To kick-start spring weight loss, add a heaping cup of spinach (raw or cooked) to your daily diet. Researchers at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut say this green’s vitamin K and manganese switch on fat-burning enzymes inside muscle cells, helping you shed 3 pounds a month.

Delicious Ideas: For a fat-burning breakfast, add 1 cup of baby spinach to your favorite smoothie. For a savory dip, mix 16 oz. of sour cream, 8 oz. of mayonnaise, 8 oz. of diced water chestnuts, 1 packet of ranch seasoning, and 10 oz. of frozen spinach, thawed and diced.

Night Vision Enhancer: Collards

Enjoying just 1/2 cup of collards daily could heighten your ability to see and drive in dim light by 20 percent in six weeks, Swiss scientists say. Thanks goes to this green’s rich stores of two key nutrients (lutein and zeaxanthin) that soak readily into delicate eye tissues, where they heal and rejuvenate aging cells.

Energizer: Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe is delicious lightly roasted or sautéed with garlic, and a 1-cup serving can boost your energy by 35 percent for four hours. Columbia University scientists say this veggie — a close cousin of the turnip — contains compounds (polyphenols) that help your liver burn dietary fats for fuel.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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