How green is your plate? When it comes to lunch, dinner and/or supper, how likely are you to have green items in your plate? Considering the power of greens, it may be time to intentionally add green items to our plates at every meal. The excerpt below provides a great starting point.

“Greens are the No. 1 food you can eat regularly to help improve your health,” says Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, a culinary educator in Northern California and the author of The Veggie Queen. That’s because leafy vegetables are brimming with fiber along with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances that may help protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and perhaps even cancer. Even so, Americans are not eating as many vegetables each day as dietary experts recommend.

To encourage you to put more leafy vegetables on your plate, WebMD asked Nussinow to rank the country’s most widely-eaten greens from most nutritious to least. Here’s our top 10 list:

  1. Kale: This nutrition powerhouse “offers everything you want in a leafy green,” says Nussinow, who gave it her first-place ranking. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A C, and K, has a good amount of calcium for a vegetable, and also supplies folate and potassium. Kale’s ruffle-edged leaves may range in color from cream to purple to black depending on the variety.Before cooking with kale, collards, turnips, and chard, Nussinow recommends swishing the greens in a water-filled sink, draining the sink, then repeating this rinse until the leaves are dirt-free. Her favorite cooking method for these four greens is to rub the leaves in olive oil or tahini (sesame paste) and cook them for five minutes with garlic, olive oil, and broth.
  2. Collards: Used in Southern-style cooking, collard greens are similar in nutrition to kale. But they have a heartier and chewier texture and a stronger cabbage-like taste. “Collards are an under-appreciated vegetable and most people don’t know about them,” suggests Nussinow. She says they’re also popular with the raw food movement because the wide leaves are used as a wrapper instead of tortillas or bread. Down South, collards are typically slow cooked with either a ham hock or smoked turkey leg. A half cup has 25 calories.

Source: “Leafy Greens — Ranked and Rated.” By Cari Nierenberg.