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Dark Leafy Green Foods – What Are The Health Benefits?

Dark Leafy Green Foods - What Are The Health Benefits?

Greetings friends. Today I am going to talk about the amazing healing benefits of green foods. These are a staple in my personal nutritional health plan as well as that of my family. I am constantly recommending my clients add more green foods to their diets either through adding them to a morning smoothie, or through adding them into meals in general. Of all the green foods you can add to your diet the dark, leafy greens are by far the most beneficial. One common denominator that researchers have found in fully 95% of people with diseases is a non-nutritious diet. We’ve all heard it a million times, but just because it has become a cliché doesn’t mean it isn’t still true. In the long run, we really are what we eat. Believe it or not, the road to disease can be altered and incubation cycles disrupted simply by consuming living foods (uncooked, non-pasteurized, minimally processed, live-enzyme containing fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) and green foods. In fact, green foods alone have the capability of reversing the trend toward disease. So, what are green foods? They’re that stuff we baby boomers have been hearing about since we were little kids; deep green leafy vegetables. Not vitamins or medicines, just deep green leafy vegetables. Grandma knew what she was talking about when she told us to eat our spinach so we could grow up to be strong like Popeye the sailor man. The power of the nutrients in deep green leafy vegetables to heal and rejuvenate a body is unmatched by any combination of synthetic medicines or supplements.

When we think of health, we tend to think green. When we think of nature, we of course think green. Green is a color associated with the good aspects of life, with healing, yet when it comes to dietary choices we generally have a certain reluctance towards this food group. People have been heard to say, “They taste too healthy.” Of course this is the case! Our taste buds have been conditioned with the intensity of artificial flavors and sugars. We’re under the influence of carefully crafted addictive flavors from food manufacturers. There is even a ridiculous social stigma as well. I often hear people call greens “hippie food” or “rabbit food” — and I’m sure you have your own names to add to this list. It gets even more interesting because innately we know consuming greens is one of the best things we can do for our well being, yet if possible we would skip the greens and, let’s face it, most people do.

What Leafy Greens Are Best? What are the benefits?

A wide variety is best. Do not over consume one particular type of green as this can actually cause unwanted side effects. For example, some greens bind calcium so your body can’t absorb it. You never will have issues if you mix it up! That is why variety is vital! Try arugula, beet leaves (yes, you can eat the tops!), collard greens,  dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, parsley, green and red lettuce varieties, romaine lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, and more! Eat a wide variety of dark, leafy greens and you’ll reap all the positive health benefits. Fact is we should all be eating our leafy greens as they support four out of the five life forces (nutrition, oxygenation, alkalization, and detoxification). Here are some amazing reasons why eating greens absolutely rocks for your health:

DARK, LEAFY GREENS GIVE YOUR BODY FOLATE – The word folate describing the B vitamin originates from the Latin root word folium, which means leaf and the fact is our bodies have to get it from food. Where do you think you find it in abundance? Dark green leafy vegetables. The function associated with folate is varied and works in conjunction with other nutrients. Folate deficiency is common (no surprise when we don’t eat a lot of greens!) and leads to a host of health problems you don’t want including digestive disorders, cardiovascular disease, and most famously perhaps, birth defects. Folate is also crucial in epigenetics (external or environmental factors that switch genes on and off without changing the DNA sequence) through a process known as methylation where folate acts as a methyl donor promoting cellular differentiation. Folate is also essential for DNA and RNA synthesis, amino acid production, and cell division. In short, you really, really need it.

  • DARK, LEAFY GREENS BURN FAT – Greens are recommended as a weight-loss food. You might think this is because greens are low calorie. But there’s more to it than that. Dark, leafy greens are low caloric while still being packed with nutrients and other active compounds, however, greens’ effect on weight loss goes beyond just calories. Greens contain nitrites, which have been associated in browning fat cells, meaning converting fat-storing white cells into fat-burning brown cells. This creates extra fat burning and ultimately, weight loss.
  • DARK, LEAFY GREENS ARE ANTI-AGING – A study carried out at the Rush University medical center reported a significant decrease in the amount of cognitive decline for those participants consuming higher amounts of dark green leafy vegetables. The researchers associated the high vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein present in these greens as influencing this anti-aging effect. Green’s antioxidants, brain protection, cellular support, anti-inflammatory benefits, and essential fatty acid nutritional contribution (in particular, the much-appreciated ALA omega-3 fatty acid) all contribute to anti-aging as well.
  • DARK, LEAFY GREENS HELP YOUR HEART – Cardiovascular health is positively influenced multiple ways when making greens a continuous part of your food choices for ongoing optimal health. First, greens help to regulate the production on a hormone known as erythropoietin, which decreases blood viscosity. This potentially help to reduce blood clots and heart attacks. Greens’ dietary fiber helps regulate cholesterol and trygliceride levels in a positive way making sure they don’t cause any unnecessary trouble. Nitric oxide, which is our internal blood pressure regulator, is positively influenced through the consumption of greens. High homocysteine( stress hormone) has been linked with cardio vascular diseases, but greens provide substrates that convert homocysteine into harmless amino acids.
  • DARK, LEAFY GREENS FEED YOUR TELOMERES – Telomere length reflects biological aging. Telemeres (the little tails on our DNA chromosome) are a big indicator of our longevity. What’s a telomere? “Inside the nucleus of a cell, our genes are arranged along twisted, double-stranded molecules of DNA called chromosomes. At the ends of the chromosomes are stretches of DNA called telomeres, which protect our genetic data, make it possible for cells to divide, and hold some secrets to how we age and get cancer,” describes The University of Utah, which has some great visuals and simple explanations of what telomeres are and how they work in your body. Cell division is necessary for growing new skin, blood, bone, and other cells, and telomeres keep the main part of the chromosome, the part essential for life with your DNA code, from shortening each time a cell divides. The telomere shortens instead. Each time the cell divides, its telomere gets shorter and shorter until it is too short and the cell dies. One way to think of telomeres is like a bomb fuse on your cells. You want that fuse to stay as long as possible. The telomere shortening process is the fuse slowly burning away closer and closer to the bomb, the death of the cell. To fuel telomeres, we have to eat what our cells eat so they stay healthy. Dark, leafy greens have A LOT of what our cells need. A diet rich in dark, leafy greens is well documented to protect telomere length and integrity.
  • DARK, LEAFY GREENS FIGHT DIABETES – Glucose imbalances, which can lead to complications such as diabetes, can be prevented and regulated by introducing greens into your diet. Magnesium, ALA omega-3 fatty acid, and polyphenols found in greens are considered to be of crucial importance in managing glycemic load and insulin sensitivity (which both need to function properly to keep hypo/hypeglycaemia and diabetes at bay). Enhancing insulin secretion and also mimicking insulin function are other integrative mechanisms that greens can contribute to keep diabetes, which is your body’s inability to make insulin (type 1 diabetes) or your body’s inability to respond to the effects of insulin (type 2 diabetes)), from developing.
  • DARK, LEAFY GREENS FEED YOUR GUT – Though it’s complicated to pinpoint exactly what the Paleo, hunter-gatherer, primal, or pre-agricultural diets of our ancestors were composed of, one thing that is clear, they ate a lot more plants in greater variety and volume than today. Jeff Leach at The Human Food Project considers this to be a critical aspect. Through his work with people following a modern hunter-gatherers’ type diet, he is able to deduce the effect of high-plant-based diets and the resulting effect on the human microbial community even when consuming high volumes of animal products. He believes high fiber content in plants provide substrates for gut microbes to digest and create byproduct that effect various gut metabolic activities including PH balance, gut permeability, immune balance, bowel movements and so forth. Failure to consume high amounts of plants in these diets leads to severe compromise in your gut microbial communities.
  • DARK, LEAFY GREENS PROVIDE SUN PROTECTION – For all you sun lovers, greens provide UV protection at a cellular level through the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • DARK, LEAFY GREENS PROTECT AGAINST TOXINS – Aflatoxins are types of toxins produced by fungi, and they are one of the most carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances known. Chlorophyll found in plants and abundant in particular in greens has a neutralizing effect on these ubiuitous toxins; it does this through directly trapping the toxin, rendering it harmless.
  • DARK, LEAFY GREENS BUILD ENZYMES – Enzymes are the body’s spark plugs. They ignite countless chemical reactions millions of times per minute within our bodies. A lack of enzymes keeps us from digesting our food and getting all the nutrients out of them. Raw foods have the most alive, active enzymes. When you are adding fresh, raw salads to your diet, you’re boosting the enzymes your body needs. Greens consumption also increases the activity in your body of a specific family of enzymes known collectively as GSTs. They promote cellular detoxification of toxins such as the already mentioned aflatoxins, but also of xenobiotics, which are foreign substances that can contribute to diseases. Overall, the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense, and phytochemical-rich characteristic of dark, leafy greens provide our bodies with beneficial effects ranging from the microscopic, molecular level to the telescopic tissue level such as your skin. Greens provide proven health benefits. What else do you need to know to starting including a heaping serving of greens with every meal if possible?

Well that’s about it from me friends. Try to include as wider variety or dark, leafy greens in your daily diet as possible so as to reap the benefits that green foods bring to the table. You’ll be glad you did!

Until next time, be well, naturally.

Craig Hitchens – Natural Health Practitioner & Remedial Therapist


Changing Habits Supreme Green Blend




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The information contained in this article is accurate at the time of posting but may change thereafter. The information provided on the various natural health subjects from this website of is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as any form of medical advice. The information in the article this disclaimer is linked from is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your health professional before taking any products or following any advice that you believe may conflict with other forms of health care. Always consult your health care professional before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your health professional before use.

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