Have you ever been told to eat your greens? There is good reasoning behind your parents getting you to eat the green stuff – it is one of the highest nutrient sources that we can get in our diets, and has amazing health giving properties. By greens, I refer to the leafy variety, which includes spinach, silverbeet, rocket, kale, lettuce (but not iceberg), watercress, or anything else that is of the leafy green variety.

There are not many people who are getting in their daily requirements of green leafy foods. Leafy greens are quite different in composition to green vegetables, so although broccoli, zucchini and beans are still good for us they do not make up our daily requirement of leafy greens.

Studies have shown that the antioxidant and mineral composition of leafy greens are far superior to that of regular fruit and vegetables. This means that a high intake of greens can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, premature aging and many other conditions.

Small studies have found that simply by integrating green smoothies (see recipe below) into your daily diet, changes can be seen in your energy, mood and digestion within days.

By eating a variety of green leafy vegetables every day you can ensure you are getting good amounts of iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, B vitamins and boron, along with a great amount of chlorophyll and fibre.

Green leafy vegetables are one of the most alkaline forming foods available. Being alkaline forming means that they help to reduce inflammation in the body, so can benefit anyone with inflammatory conditions including arthritis, autoimmune disease, endometriosis, psoriasis, acne, allergies, asthma, ulcerative colitis and headaches.

Click here to read more about acid/alkaline diets

The challenge is to get these health benefits we not only need to eat a lot of greens every day but we also need to digest them. Without proper chewing (into a paste) green leafy vegetables do not release all of their nutrients, so you may be missing out on some of the benefit.

Salads are great, but ensure that you chew them very well. The easiest way to get high amounts of greens into your diet is with a green smoothie.