“Eat your green vegetables.” We hear the command constantly and over the years our reactions evolve from “I don’t wanna” to “I know I should but …”
When it comes to healthy eating, let’s face facts. A slice of cheese-drenched pizza is slightly more appealing than leafy green veggies. However, sneaking a few more of those vegetables into your diet can be one small step that protects your body. Eating green can also be easier than you think.
Savor a couple of these facts for a moment.
Eating green vegetables can help lower your blood pressure, make physical activity a little easier and reduce your risk for major heart problems. Reaching for the green veggies can also protect your major organs, help wounds heal faster and improve your sex life.
Did that catch your attention?
Leafy greens such as kale, lettuce, spinach, parsley and broccoli pack a punch of Nitric Oxide (not to be confused with its more harmful relative, nitrous oxide or nitrogen oxides). Our bodies, particularly the nutrient-carrying blood vessels, crave NO. If our vessels and arteries don’t get enough naturally-occurring NO, they start to constrict. Imagine trying to drink water from a straw that someone is gripping tight with their fist.
Now, visualize your heart and lungs trying to receive blood from arteries that have a similar grip placed on them – inflammation. It is as if a fist were griping that blood vessel meaning the heart has to work much harder to get sufficient blood flow, and all the life-giving nutrients it needs to stay alive.
The NO in your leafy green veggies acts as a release on that grip, dilating the blood vessels so that more blood flow can get where it needs to go.
When we get enough of the nutrients we need, our blood pressure decreases, it is easier to pump blood through our bodies when performing physical activity, open wounds heal faster, and we are less likely to need medication to improve blood flow and sexual function.
First, create a challenge for yourself and do that challenge with a friend. Set a group goal and find a reward for when you finish. Research has shown that behavior modifications are easier to achieve when others are there to help keep you accountable.
Second, sneak these greens slowly into foods you already eat. Add a small salad with lettuce, spinach, broccoli and parsley to every meal. It does not have to be big, just a cup or so. Slide spinach leaves into a sandwich or add a couple to a smoothie. Fry your asparagus in butter at first and sprinkle with some cheese – whatever gets you to eat it up. Eventually you can wean yourself off the butter and cheese and onto extra virgin olive oil. Add some pine nuts to the mix to ramp up the flavor. Replace lasagna noodles with eggplant the next time you crave a little Italian food. Or try InjuryFree’s recipe for Kickin’ Kale Salad.
The trick is to not flip your eating habits on their head, but make these heart-healthy foods a part of your already established daily routine.
Say yes to Nitric Oxide. You will certainly thank yourself, with all your healthy heart.