Mar 11, 2014 8:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. This year, skip the corned beef, lime-green mashed potatoes and clover-shaped cookies. Replace your meal with these natural greens that have surprising health benefits. 

nutrition family health

Green Foods

Cancer-Fighting Kale

High in fiber and packed with antioxidants, vitamins and calcium, this superfood does wonders for your health. Making this green a regular part of your diet may contribute to lowering cholesterol levels and helping prevent cancer. Slice kale into ribbons and eat raw in a salad (remove the tough ribs), or gently steam for a side dish. For a crunchy chip substitute, sprinkle with olive oil and bake.

Belly-Trimming Avocado

Avocados are loaded with fiber, vitamins and potassium. They contain monounsaturated fats, which play a role in lowering cholesterol levels, reducing the risk for heart disease and decreasing belly fat. Spread avocado—instead of mayo—on a sandwich or dice on top of a salad. Avocado also makes a good partial substitute for butter when baking. For half the amount of butter called for a recipe, use mashed avocado.

Power-Packed Edamame

One serving of these young green soybeans provides 9 grams of fiber and as much iron as a 4-ounce piece of chicken. Edamame also has antioxidants, protein, and vitamins A and C. Boil or steam pods, then sprinkle with pepper (instead of salt) for a healthy snack with a kick. Hulled edamame is great in salads, or puree it for a low-calorie dip.

Mood-Boosting Kiwi

This low-calorie fruit is high in nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. Kiwi may improve skin tone, lower blood pressure, and reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, but it doesn’t stop there. Kiwi contains high levels of serotonin, which can improve sleep quality and lift your mood. Add it to cereal, yogurt, salad and smoothies, or freeze slices for a tasty treat.

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