Green Drinks by Elizabeth Brown, MS, RD

Benefits of Eating a Few Leafy Greens

Published on pg. 7 of the SMDP newspaper, April 10, 2008, click link for original article

It ain’t easy eating green…so drink green


I’ve seen this billboard a few times over the years and I just love it, so I finally took the opportunity, while at a stop light, to snap a picture.


The caption reads, “Eats flies. Dates a pig. Hollywood star. Live Your Dreams.”

That about sums it up for life in LA. You can be, do, or say anything, and often times, the more wacky, the better. If Kermit can make it here, then I have no excuses. So as weird as it sounds to drink your greens, I’m going to boast about it anyway.Kermit the frog sang about being green and how it’s not so easy, yet, he pulled it off. He was green, and proud, and in love with a pig? I am not asking YOU to be green or fall in love with a pig. I am simply asking you to try to eat green—more green vegetables that is. I know, I sound like your mother, right? But I am not your mother. I am simply a concerned Dietitian.

I have always felt that leafy green vegetables are the best food on this planet because they have the ability to harness energy from the sun and turn it into energy for the growing plant. Imagine being able to harness the energy of the sun to help your own body grow and repair itself. Well, you can’t, sorry, but you can eat leafy greens and get the next best thing.Knowing that greens are so great and that eating more would be most beneficial to your health, I have been trying to come up with clever ways to do so. So, I decided to buy a book all about juicing greens aptly named, “Green for Life.”

This book is off the hook. These people literally live on these green gook concoctions which incorporate greens from every walk of life and even from the cracks in the sidewalk. Weeds are actually really nutritious. That does not mean you should walk down Main Street and pick your salad ingredients along the way. But you might want to do as I do and think about more creative ways to eat more greens.

I also have another goal which is to get more Omega-3 rich foods in my diet. I recently learned that romaine lettuce is a good source of the essential Omega-3 fatty acid called Alpha-Linolenic-Acid or ALA. Leafy greens are not high in fat but the fat they contain happens to be well balanced in both omega-3 and omega-6 fats. We need more omega-3’s in our diet because we currently have too much omega-6 fatty acids leading to an imbalance. Eating foods that are already balanced is a good start.

Romaine lettuce is a cold weather plant meaning that it does well in the cold and does not have to be protected from harsh climates. Plants that adapt well under extreme conditions (weeds are another example) tend to be higher in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The Omega-3’s make the plant’s cell walls more pliable or flexible so that they can bend and adjust to various climates. This “flexibility” also allows for quick delivery of nutrients in and out of the plant’s cells.

Omega-3’s work the same way when incorporate into your own cells. Omega-3’s tend be found in higher concentrations in body cells that require rapid response such as the cells in the brain, the eyes, the heart, and the muscles of trained athletes where “flexibility” and rapid responses are a must. The current ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats in the typical American diet is 17:1 but the ideal goal is 4:1 or even 1:1. This Omega-3 Rich recipe gives you a ratio of 1:4. Yes, it is a reverse increase. There are four times as many Omega-3’s as there are Omega-6’s. The problem with the current excess of Omega-6’s is that these types of fats promote blood clotting and inflammation, both of which are necessary to protect the body, but detrimental in the long run because excessive clotting can cause a heart attack or stroke as well as chronic inflammation which can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

We need more Omega-3 fats to help the body achieve more of a balance. So drink, or eat, up and enjoy the balanced way you will feel from the inside out! Knowing that romaine is a good source of some Omega-3’s and having that goal of eating more greens, perhaps now you will be more motivated to try one of these recipes to help you get started. You can juice your greens for quick greens-on-the-go, or use the same ingredients to make a green salad topped with blueberries, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette. Either way you are now on your way to Eating Green.



Drink Your Greens
Omega-3 Rich Blue-Green Drink
In a blender add:
1 cup baby romaine leaves
1 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
(most of the Omega-3’s in this recipe come from Flax)
1⁄8 tsp cinnamon
8 ounces filtered water
(If you prefer, a teaspoon of honey helps the “greens” go down)Blend. Drink. Enjoy!
Per serving (~16 ounces) Calories 95, Carbohydrates 14g, Fiber 6g, Protein 3g, Fat 3g, Omega-3 fats 2g, Omega-6 fats 0.5g
Eat Your Greens
But first, Dress Your Greens
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
(higher in Omega-3’s than any other oil)
2 Tablespoons Flax oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
3 cloves Garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
or 6 turns of a pepper millPut everything in a blender and blend. Store in a jar. Label and date. Keep for up to one month.

Use to dress your leafy greens each and every day!!