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The nutritional value of greens is generally considered to be very high for a number of reasons. They are naturally low in calories, meaning they serve a notable place in a diet oriented toward achieving or maintaining a healthy body weight and preventing health problems related to obesity. Furthermore, they are packed with vitamins, including folate, and fiber. Combined, all these elements significantly elevate the nutritional value of greens.
Greens are not considered to be calorically dense, meaning they contain relatively few calories per serving. Low calorie density is a big contributor to the nutritional value of greens because it is possible to eat larger portions, and therefore consume more of the nutrients they offer, without consuming an inappropriately large amount of calories. This low caloric value enables people to eat a larger volume of greens than they could eat of more calorie-rich foods, promoting satiety without overindulgence. Additionally, greens, like most other vegetables, are naturally low in fat.
While different varieties of greens will differ in the amounts of some nutrients that they contain, greens are generally rich in the vitamins K, A, and C. Vitamin K is acclaimed for its ability to help form blood clots which can prevent excess bleeding in the event of injury or surgery, as well as for promoting healthy bone density and playing an important role in cardiovascular health. Bone health is also promoted by vitamin A, a nutrient which is also essential to cell development, healthy skin, and maintenance of the body’s mucus membranes and tissues. The perhaps better known vitamin C is most notable for helping the body fight off infection and improve immune function, as well as for its role in regulating cholesterol levels.
A variety of B vitamins is present in different kinds of greens, but most contain significant amounts of the B vitamin folate, or folic acid. Folate is considered an essential nutrient particularly for women of childbearing age, because plays a crucial role in preventing neural tube defects in newborns. Given this important health benefit, the presence of folate certainly impacts the nutritional value of greens.
Fiber is another important element of the overall nutritional value of greens. Vegetables such as greens are one of the most prominent sources of dietary fiber, which is essential to healthy digestive function. Consuming dietary fiber also results in feelings of fullness and satiety, which can help prevent overeating.