Forget Kale: You should be eating these 10 Indian greens instead
Loads of Indian green leafy veggies are extremely nutritious, cheaply and easily available when in season, and make for a delicious healthy meal.
Green leafy vegetables are a very important part of your diet, and we’re sure you’ve been told to eat them when they are in season. Most greens are available during the winter months, and all of them have immense health benefits.
Like all vegetables, greens are rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc. They are rich in antioxidants and can help you cope with many health issues, from weight gain and constipation to cardiovascular diseases.
Here’s the clincher though: if you are health conscious Indian, and working hard on a weight loss plan, then you might be prone to go for the more trendy greens out there, like kale, iceberg lettuce, baby spinach, rocket leaves, etc. You might even think that a bit of coriander and mint in your salads is enough. It’s not, and there’s more to greens than the trendy ones from the West.
Did you know that there are loads of Indian green leafy veggies that are extremely nutritious, cheaply and easily available when in season, and make for a delicious healthy meal? And no, we’re not just talking about spinach - though it’s a good start. Here are 10 Indian greens that you should add into your diet plan to stay healthy.
1. Spinach - Paalak
Yes, spinach is the most popular one with a wide variety of Indian recipes (all of them healthy except perhaps paalak patte ki chaat) that you can rustle up in no time. Spinach is a rich source of vitamin K, C and D, dietary fibre, iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Eat enough spinach, and you’ll reduce the risk of developing anaemia, bacterial and viral infections and heart diseases. Spinach can also improve your bone health, eyesight, skin and hair quality.
2. Mustard - Sarso
Sarso ka saag is a North-Indian favourite during winter months (especially with some makke ki roti and jaggery on the side) and not only because it’s delicious. Mustard greens are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, and have a high concentration of calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese and dietary fibre. From improving your digestive health to keeping your cholesterol levels low, mustard greens are hugely beneficial for your health.
3. Fenugreek - Methi
When it comes to fenugreek, don’t just be limited to the seeds because the leaves are quite versatile, nutritious and delicious too. Fenugreek leaves are a rich source of iron, dietary fibre, protein, manganese and magnesium, and have antioxidant properties as well. They can aid breast milk production in new mothers and raise testosterone levels in men. They also help control your appetite and blood sugar levels as well as reduce cholesterol, indigestion and inflammation.
4. Chenopodium album - Bathua
You might not be too familiar with this green leaf but it’s very popular in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal. Bathua is rich in vitamins A, C and B complex, and has high levels of amino acids, iron, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. From curing constipation to improving liver health, this winter green is a must-have. What’s more, it’s pretty easy to cook and goes with everything from chickpeas (chana) to cottage cheese (paneer) and chicken!
5. Colocasia/Taro - Arbi
You might have had curries with colocasia roots, but have you ever tried colocasia leaves? They’re very popular in Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Manipur, with dishes like patra and eromba now famous in other states as well. Colocasia leaves are rich in vitamin A and C, iron, dietary fibre and folic acid. So apart from giving your immune system a good boost, these leaves can improve eyesight, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, aid weight loss and improve the nervous system.
6. Turmeric - Haldi
The whole world is now familiar with the spice turmeric, but how many know about turmeric leaves? Turmeric leaves are as rich in curcumin as the roots and tubers, so they have immense anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiseptic benefits. Add dietary fibre and minerals to this mix, and you will find that turmeric leaves need to be added to your diet immediately.
7. Moringa - Sahjan
Also known as drumstick leaves, moringa leaves have been considered to be a remedy for malnutrition for a long time. A study published in the journal of Food Science and Human Wellness in 2016 revealed that the moringa tree is perennial and can withstand severe drought - so it’s available all-year-round. It is full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Moringa leaves can help keep everything from common infections to cancer and diabetes at bay.
8. Purslane - Kulfa
Loaded with vitamin A and C, omega-3 fatty acids and minerals like magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron and calcium, purslane doesn’t get the attention it deserves in Indian cuisine. It is very easily available and makes for a good salad leaf since it can be eaten raw too. It can also be cooked with curries, dal and stir-fried veggies, and helps improve heart health.
9. Water spinach - Kalmi
Very popular in Bengal and the South Indian states, water spinach grows around paddy fields and river banks. It might look like a longer version of grass, but water spinach is a powerhouse of nutrients including dietary fibre, protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A and C. It can reduce cholesterol, lower the risk of liver diseases, anaemia, indigestion, constipation, diabetes and heart diseases.
10. Collard - Haak
Crinkly and pungent, collard greens are very popular in Jammu and Kashmir and is traditionally eaten boiled, fried or mashed. The boiled version is exceptionally nutritious and is known to prevent respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, asthma and whooping cough. This is because collard greens are rich in vitamins A, C and B complex, apart from being great sources of dietary fibre, iron and magnesium.
This winter, make sure you get enough of these traditional and popular Indian greens. They are indigenous, delicious and so healthy that you just won’t feel like going back to kale, ever.
For more on this topic, please read our article on Vegetables: Types, Nutrition, Benefits and Side Effects.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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