March already?! And with it comes St. Patrick’s Day! In Ireland, that means shamrocks, flags, and an excuse to break Lent! This month, along with the usual festivities, why not give your Céad Míle Fáilte to all the beautiful green fruits and vegetables, as well as the health benefits that come with them…
Start your day green with some smashed avocado on whole grain toast for a healthy breakfast. Avocados are known as a heart-healthy food as they are naturally free from cholesterol, sugar, and sodium. They are also a great source of fibre, folate, and vitamin K. One-third of a medium avocado (50g) contains 80 calories, gives 3.5g of fibre, contributes to “good” fats (monounsaturated), and also provides around 20 vitamins and minerals, including 250mg of potassium! When choosing avocados, look for ones with firm skin and no soft spots. They should be firm while yielding to gentle pressure when ripe.
Go green for snacks with kiwis by adding them to a juice or smoothie or simply cut one in half and go for it with a spoon. Kiwis are versatile and convenient as well as being packed full of nutrients for health and immunity. They’re also a good source of fibre, with more vitamin C than an orange and a good source of potassium and vitamin E. If you eat the skin, you can triple the amount of fibre you’ll get from the kiwi!
Give lunch a pop of green with peas. The perfect addition to any meal, peas can add life to salads, rice, pasta, soups, casseroles, or stews! Some might find it surprising that peas are an excellent source of vitamin C, with just 100g providing 66% of your recommended intake. Green peas are also one of the best plant-based sources of protein. This, along with their high fibre content, works to slow down digestion, promoting a feeling of fullness.
Bring broccoli to dinner to finish off your green day. Like many whole foods, broccoli is packed with soluble fibre that helps to reduce cholesterol in the body. This is because the fibre in broccoli helps bind with bile acids in the digestive tract, which makes it easier to excrete cholesterol out of our bodies. Broccoli is a particularly good source of fibre and protein and contains iron, potassium, calcium, selenium, and magnesium as well as the vitamins A, C, E, K and a good array of B vitamins including folic acid. The list goes on… Enjoy cooked or raw!
As well as the above examples, consider other dark leafy greens such as cabbage, kale, and spinach. These are all great sources of folate and therefore contribute to heart health by lowering homocysteine (an amino acid known to be a risk factor for coronary heart disease) levels in the blood. Some other great green ideas for the trolley are green beans (full of fibre, potassium, folate, protein, iron, and zinc), lettuce (refreshing choice with small amounts of folate, calcium, vitamin C, and potassium), cucumber (promoting hydration as well as providing vitamin K), asparagus (fibre, folate, and vitamins A, C and K), courgettes (nutrient dense and full of fibre, potassium, vitamin K and C), green peppers (vitamin C and fibre), green apples (fibre, vitamin A and C), and green grapes (antioxidant properties and full of vitamin C and K)!
By focusing on green this St. Patrick’s Day and mixing up your shopping list this month, open your eyes (and taste buds) to new foods you never knew you loved, experiment with flavours and cooking methods, and aim to make something green part of your daily diet routine! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!