Your juice isn't complete without a dose of leafy greens. Research shows that leafy greens are one of the most concentrated sources of nutrition. They supply the iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins in abundance.
Leafy greens provide a variety of phytonutrients, including beta-carotene and lutein, which protect cells from damage and eyes from age-related problems. A few cups of dark green leaves also contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and nine times the RDA for vitamin K, which regulates blood clotting, protects bones from osteoporosis, and may reduce risk of atherosclerosis by reducing calcium in arterial plaques.
A Dieter's Delight
Because greens have very few carbohydrates and a lot of fiber, they take the body a long time to digest. If you're on a diet, leafy greens can be your best friend; they fill you up, but they have very few calories and no fat. In fact, most greens have so little impact on blood glucose that many low-carb diets consider them free foods.
Studies show leafy greens pack a powerful nutritional punch by helping reduce heart disease, lung cancer, and colon cancer. A team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that individuals who consume leafy greens daily had a 23 percent reduction in coronary heart disease.
Leafing Through the Leafy Greens
Leafy greens run the gamut in taste, from arugula — which ancient Romans considered an aphrodisiac because of its peppery taste — to iceberg lettuce, which is crunchy and sweet with a very mild flavor. Here are some of the most popular leafy greens used in juicing:
Lettuce. Deep green lettuce is a good source of calcium, chlorophyll, iron, magnesium, potassium, silicon, and vitamins A and E. All types help rebuild hemoglobin, add shine and thickness to hair, and promote hair growth. Iceberg contains natural opiates that relax the muscles and nerves. Lettuce juice is strong and works best in combination with other vegetables. Wash carefully and refrigerate in original plastic. Use within a few days. Yield per pound: four ounces of juice.
Parsley. Packed with chlorophyll, vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and sulfur, parsley helps stimulate oxygen metabolism, cell respiration, and regeneration. Wash, refrigerate, and use within five days. Yield per ounce: one to two ounces per three-inch bunch of parsley.
Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. Popeye was right all along. You'll be strong to the finish if you eat your spinach, kale, and chard, which are similar in nutritional value and provide ample supplies of iron, phosphorous, fiber, and vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Wash thoroughly and bag loosely in the refrigerator. Use within four days. Yield per pound: four ounces of juice.
Watercress. This delicate leafy green veggie has a slightly pungent taste and is packed with vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. It also contains acid-forming minerals, which make it ideal for intestinal cleansing and normalizing, and chlorophyll, which stimulates metabolism and circulatory functions. Refrigerate and use within five days. Yield per pound: two to four ounces of juice.
Wheatgrass. The juice from wheat berries contains many anti-aging properties, including vitamins A, B complex, and E, chlorophyll, a full spectrum of minerals, and various enzymes. Refrigerate and use within four days. Yield per pound: six to eight ounces of juice.