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Author Zoran Trifunovic
Zoran Trifunovic Writer
Updated on Jul 10th, 2024
Fact checked by Valentina Meneghini

How to Eat More Greens: Quick & Easy Methods for 2024

Eating more greens can be a challenge, especially with a busy lifestyle. Many people struggle to incorporate enough green vegetables into their diets, often finding it time-consuming or unexciting. But working with our in-house nutritionist, I learned many different ways to cook and add greens to a diet in an easy and tasty way. 

However, the health benefits of adding more greens to your meals are immense. They can improve your overall well-being, provide important nutrients, and help you to maintain a healthy weight¹.

This article explores the positive health impacts of increasing your green vegetable intake. You'll find practical tips and easy recipes to make eating greens simple and enjoyable. 

You'll also discover a range of quick and easy methods to boost your greens intake. Whether you're planning meals for yourself or your family, these tips will save you time and introduce you to new, delicious ways to enjoy green vegetables.

Eating Greens When You Don’t Like Them🥦

It’s not uncommon for adults to struggle with eating their greens, just like kids do. Taste preferences, texture aversions, or negative associations from childhood can all contribute to this reluctance.

The dislike for greens can sometimes be attributed to genetic factors, like the well-known aversion to cilantro. Personally, I used to cringe at the thought of cilantro, but I discovered that cooking it can mellow out its flavor, making it more palatable. 

This highlights the importance of experimenting with different greens and preparation methods to find what works for you. Or if you aren’t up to that, subscribe to a meal delivery service whose chefs know well how to pair different foods. 

Incorporate Greens Carefully

An image of adding small amounts of green vegetables to different meals.

An effective strategy to introduce greens into your diet is to sneak them into familiar dishes. For example, blend spinach or kale into smoothies, mix finely chopped greens into pasta sauces or soups, or layer them into sandwiches and wraps.

Explore Variety

There are over 100 different varieties of greens available. So there’s bound to be something to suit every palate. Don’t limit yourself to just spinach and kale. Explore lesser-known options like Swiss chard, collard greens, or mustard greens. Each variety offers its own unique flavor profile and nutritional benefits, so don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new.

Easy Ways to Eat More Greens 🌿

Incorporating more greens into your diet doesn't have to be a chore. Here are some tips to help you get more greens in your day:

    1. Salads

    Green Chef cauliflower and kale salad

    Author’s Tip: Greens can be incorporated into salads, adding nutrients and color. Kale is a star ingredient in this Cauliflower and Kale salad from Green Chef (above), but you could add other greens too, like arugula or spinach. This recipe is suitable for vegetarians, as are many Green Chef recipes, which is why you’ll find it on our list of the Best Vegetarian Meal Delivery Services 2024.

    Making salads a regular part of your meals is an easy way to increase your green intake. Experiment with different greens, like spinach, kale, arugula, and mixed greens. Add a variety of colorful vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins to make your salads more exciting and nutritious. 

      2. Add to Soup & Stews

      Greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard can be easily added to soups and stews. They cook quickly and can be added in the last few minutes of cooking. This method is perfect for enhancing the nutrient content of your meals without altering the flavor significantly.

      3. Add to Pasta

      Incorporate greens into your pasta dishes by mixing in spinach, arugula, or kale. You can also create a green pesto sauce using basil, parsley, or spinach. Adding greens to pasta not only boosts nutrition but also adds a fresh, vibrant flavor.

       Pesto pasta with spinach and parmesan from Blue Apron

      Author’s Tip: Adding a few greens to your favorite pasta dishes takes no effort. Spinach is a healthy and tasty addition to the pesto pasta from Blue Apron (above). Our reviewer has tried several dishes from Blue Apron and was truly impressed by the quality of the ingredients as well as the taste. Check out our full review for more details.

        4. Blend into Sauces

        Blending greens into sauces is an excellent way to sneak them into your diet. Spinach, kale, and even broccoli can be blended into tomato sauces, cream-based sauces, or pesto. This is especially helpful for picky eaters or children who might not enjoy eating greens whole.

          5. Grow Microgreens

          Microgreens are easy to grow at home, even in small apartments. These nutrient-dense greens can be harvested in just a few weeks and added to salads, sandwiches, and smoothies for a fresh, healthy boost.

            6. Regrow Greens

            You can regrow some veggies like celery, leafy greens, and herbs from kitchen scraps. It’s a sustainable way to have a continuous supply. Simply place the base of these vegetables in water and watch them regrow. This method is cost-effective and fun for the whole family.

            An image showing an inventive way to regrow celery from kitchen waste in a glass of water.

              7. Start a Veggie Garden

              If you have space, starting a vegetable garden could be an option. It can provide you with a steady supply of fresh greens. Planting a variety of greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale ensures you always have nutritious options at hand.

                8. Use Collard Greens as Wraps

                Collard greens make excellent low-carb wraps. They are sturdy and can hold a variety of fillings, from grilled chicken to hummus and vegetables. This is a great way to enjoy a sandwich without the extra calories from bread.

                An image showing collard greens used as wraps for meat and plant-based meals

                  9. Add to Frittatas

                  Greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard can be added to frittatas and omelets. They cook down well and blend seamlessly with eggs, making for a nutritious and filling breakfast or brunch option.

                    10. Try a Variety of Greens

                    Don't limit yourself to just one type of green. Explore different greens, such as arugula, beet greens, and mustard greens. Each type offers unique flavors and nutritional benefits, keeping your meals interesting and diverse.

                    An image of a shopper contemplating which greens to buy

                      11. Include in Sandwiches & Wraps

                      Add greens to your sandwiches, wraps, and even as a pizza topping. Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and arugula add a fresh crunch and boost the nutritional content of your meals.

                        12. Batch Cooking for Convenience

                        Prepare large batches of greens and store them in the fridge or freezer. Cooked greens like sautéed spinach or kale can be easily added to meals throughout the week, saving you time and effort.

                        An image of a man placing a container of cauliflower in a fridge full of groceries.

                          13. Explore Global Cuisines

                          Different cultures use a variety of greens in their traditional dishes. Explore global cuisines to discover new and exciting ways to incorporate greens into your diet. Try dishes like Indian saag paneer, Japanese seaweed salads, or African collard green stews.

                            14. Eat with the Seasons

                            Eating seasonal greens is good for your budget. It also ensures you get the freshest and most nutritious produce. Visit local farmers' markets to find in-season greens and support local agriculture.

                            An image of a young lady buying green produce from a young farmer, with a field of crops in the background.

                              15. Buy Pre-Prepared Greens

                              For convenience and storage, consider buying frozen, canned, or pre-chopped greens. These options are often just as nutritious as fresh greens and can be easily added to your meals.

                                16. Start Small

                                If you're not used to eating greens or don't like their taste, start small. Gradually incorporate greens into your diet in small amounts, mixing them with your favorite foods. Over time, your palate will adjust, and you'll find it easier to enjoy greens.

                                An image of a person adding small amount of greens to a bowl of chopped meat, carrots, and other ingredients.

                                Getting Kids to Eat Their Greens 👼

                                An angry kid reluctant to eat veggies on a plate in front of her.

                                It’s important to introduce children to greens from a young age. This can help lay the foundation for healthy eating habits later in life. While some greens may seem less palatable, it’s important to offer a variety of veggies, including broccoli and other greens, during the weaning stage.

                                Early Exposure Matters

                                Allow kids to explore and decide for themselves whether they enjoy certain vegetables. Avoid using tactics like making dessert contingent on finishing greens, as this can create negative associations with these foods.

                                Disguise Greens in Familiar Recipes

                                Incorporate them into dishes they already enjoy. Puree spinach or kale into pasta sauces, blend them into smoothies, or sneak them into pasta dishes, casseroles, and omelets. This can help mask any perceived bitterness while still providing the nutritional benefits of greens.

                                Involve Kids in Meal Preparation

                                Encourage children to participate in meal prep. This can increase their excitement about trying new foods, including greens. Let them wash, chop, and mix ingredients, giving them a sense of ownership over their meals. This hands-on approach can make them more willing to taste and explore different flavors.

                                Explore Gardening Together

                                Growing your own vegetables can be a fun and educational activity for the whole family. Kids may be more inclined to eat greens that they’ve had a hand in growing themselves. My own daughter, for instance, only started eating spinach after growing it in our backyard garden. You can find more ideas in our article, how to eat spinach without getting bored

                                What Are the Most Nutritious Greens? 🎉

                                The list of the most nutritious greens was created using a classification scheme. This identified powerhouse fruits and vegetables. These foods provide, on average, 10% or more of the daily value per 100 kcal of 17 essential nutrients. Here are the top 10:

                                An image showing the top 3 most nutritious greens.

                                1. Watercress: This aquatic plant is a nutrient-dense green, high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and iron. It's known for its peppery flavor and is excellent in salads and soups².

                                2. Chinese cabbage: Also known as Napa cabbage, it’s rich in vitamins C and K and contains significant amounts of folate and calcium. It's a staple in many Asian dishes and adds a crisp texture to salads and stir-fries³.

                                3. Chard: Swiss chard is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, along with magnesium, potassium, and iron. Its slightly bitter taste makes it a flavorful addition to sautés and soups.

                                4. Beet greens: The leafy tops of beets are full of vitamins A and K, as well as calcium and iron. They have a slightly sweet, earthy flavor and can be used similarly to spinach or chard.

                                An image of beet greens dotting the field

                                1. Spinach: This popular leafy green is high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and iron. Its mild flavor and versatility make it a great choice for salads, smoothies, and cooked dishes.

                                2. Chicory: This bitter green is rich in vitamins A, C, and K and contains significant amounts of folate and fiber. It's often used in salads and can be cooked to mellow its bitterness.

                                3. Leaf lettuce: Varieties such as red and green leaf lettuce are high in vitamins A and K and contain smaller amounts of other essential nutrients. They’re perfect for fresh salads and wraps.

                                An image showing green lettuce

                                1. Parsley: More than just a garnish, parsley is rich in vitamins A, C, and K and contains folate and iron. Its fresh, slightly peppery flavor enhances a variety of dishes.

                                2. Romaine lettuce: Known for its crisp texture, romaine lettuce is high in vitamins A and K and also provides folate and potassium. It's a key ingredient in Caesar salads and can be grilled or used in wraps¹⁰.

                                3. Collard Greens: These hearty greens are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and fiber. They have a slightly bitter taste and are often used in Southern cuisine, typically cooked with ham or bacon¹¹.

                                Why Eat More Greens? 🥒

                                Eating more greens can significantly enhance your health. Green vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support various bodily functions. Adding these nutrient-rich foods to your meals can make a positive difference in your overall well-being.

                                Infographic showing the reasons why you might want to eat more greens

                                • Nutrient Density: Greens are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, K, and folate¹².

                                • Antioxidant Power: Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage¹³.

                                • Fiber Content: High in dietary fiber, greens support digestive health and promote regular bowel movements¹⁴.

                                • Weight Management: Low in calories but high in volume, greens can help with weight management by providing satiety without excess calories¹.

                                • Heart Health: Greens contain nutrients like potassium and magnesium that support heart health and help maintain healthy blood pressure levels¹⁵.

                                • Bone Strength: High levels of calcium and vitamin K in greens contribute to strong bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis¹⁶.

                                • Disease Prevention: Regular consumption of greens is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers¹⁷.

                                • Detoxification: Greens support optimal liver function, which is fundamental for the body’s natural detoxification processes¹⁸.

                                • Improved Immunity: The vitamins and minerals in greens strengthen the immune system, helping the body fend off infections¹⁹.

                                • Skin Health: Nutrients in greens promote healthy skin, reducing signs of aging and improving overall complexion²⁰.

                                What Types of Greens Are There? 

                                There are many types of greens to explore, each offering unique flavors and nutritional benefits. This means you have plenty of options to experiment with and find your favorites. Incorporating a variety of these greens into your diet can keep your meals exciting and nutritious.

                                • Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are common and versatile. They are perfect for salads, smoothies, and sautés.

                                • Cruciferous Greens: Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts provide a hearty texture and are rich in fiber and vitamins.

                                Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts

                                • Microgreens: Young vegetable greens like radish or sunflower shoots pack a nutritional punch and add a fresh, delicate flavor to dishes.

                                • Wild Greens: Varieties such as dandelion greens and nettles offer unique tastes and are often packed with nutrients not found in cultivated varieties.

                                wild greens dandelion and nettles on a white plate with a blue rim

                                • Sea Greens: Types like nori, kelp, and wakame are rich in minerals and antioxidants, bringing a savory umami flavor to your meals.

                                • Sprouts: Options like alfalfa and bean sprouts offer a crisp texture and a boost of vitamins and minerals.

                                An image of a seabed with sea greens and fish swimming below the surface.

                                What Happens if You Don’t Eat Enough Greens?

                                The lack of greens in our diet can lead to a variety of health issues. Most of these are easily preventable with proper diet and nutrition. The current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend consuming at least 2 cups of greens per day, yet most people fall short of this goal²¹.

                                Take a look at the table below for a quick overview of how Americans eat. 

                                Food

                                Daily requirement for an adult

                                Details

                                Veggies

                                At least 2 cups²²

                                10% or so Americans meet daily requirement

                                Fruits and veggies combined

                                No less than 5 servings (cups) of fresh produce²³

                                The national average is 2.7 servings a day


                                Meat

                                2 to 3 ounces²³

                                On average, Americans eat 12 ounces of meat daily

                                Nutritional Deficiencies

                                Not eating enough greens can result in several nutrient deficiencies. 

                                • Scurvy: Caused by a deficiency in vitamin C, leading to symptoms like fatigue, gum disease, and skin problems²⁴.

                                • Bleeding Disorders: A lack of vitamin K can cause issues with blood clotting, increasing the risk of excessive bleeding²⁵.

                                • Anemia: Insufficient iron intake can lead to anemia, characterized by fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath²⁶.

                                • Osteoporosis: A deficiency in calcium, found in many greens, can contribute to weakened bones and osteoporosis²⁷.

                                • Cardiovascular Problems: Greens are rich in nutrients that support heart health. Without them, you may have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure and heart attacks²⁸.

                                Increased Risk of Health Issues

                                A diet lacking in greens can elevate the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, various types of cancer, and obesity. Greens contain antioxidants and other compounds that help protect against these conditions²⁹.

                                An infographic explaining the correlation between lesser veggie intake and a higher possibility of diseases.

                                Poor Digestive Health

                                Greens are a vital source of dietary fiber, which is essential for healthy digestion. Without enough fiber, you may experience constipation, bloating, and other digestive issues³⁰.

                                Weakened Immune System

                                Greens provide essential vitamins and minerals that support the immune system. A lack of these nutrients can weaken your immune response, making you more susceptible to infections³¹.

                                Fatigue and Lower Energy Levels

                                Greens contribute to overall energy levels and vitality. Without them, you might feel more fatigued and experience a noticeable drop in your energy throughout the day³².

                                FAQ 🏁

                                What are the benefits of eating more green vegetables?

                                Eating more green vegetables provides essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, and antioxidants. These nutrients support overall health, boost the immune system, improve digestion, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers²​.

                                How do I get my family to eat more greens?

                                You can get your family to eat more greens by incorporating them into dishes they already enjoy. Add finely chopped greens to pasta, soups, and smoothies. Make green-based snacks like kale chips or involve your family in cooking and gardening to make greens more appealing.

                                What are the best ways to store greens to reduce waste?

                                Store greens properly to extend their shelf life. Keep them in a breathable bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Wash and dry greens thoroughly before storing, or use paper towels to absorb moisture. For longer storage, consider batch cooking and freezing or using vacuum-sealed bags.

                                How do I eat more greens when I don’t like them?

                                If you don’t like greens, start by blending them into smoothies or sauces where their taste is less noticeable. Gradually add small amounts to your meals and experiment with different cooking methods like roasting or sautéing to find what you enjoy.

                                Are there any hacks to make greens tasty?

                                Make greens tasty by enhancing their flavor with seasonings and cooking methods. There are lots of simple recipes you can try. Sauté greens with garlic and olive oil, roast them with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, or add a squeeze of lemon juice. Mixing greens into flavorful dishes like stir-fries or casseroles can also help.

                                References

                                  1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266069/

                                    2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8123986/

                                      3https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168572/nutrients

                                        4https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169991/nutrients

                                          5https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170375/nutrients

                                            6https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1999633/nutrients

                                              7https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169992/nutrients

                                                8https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169249/nutrients

                                                  9https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170416/nutrients

                                                    10https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169247/nutrients

                                                      11https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170406/nutrients

                                                        12https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-articles/2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/

                                                          13https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5642804/

                                                            14https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8577856/

                                                              15https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/keep-heart-disease-at-bay-with-a-salad-a-day

                                                                16https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235933/

                                                                  17https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/greens/

                                                                    18https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499388/

                                                                      19https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9462539/

                                                                        20https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257702/

                                                                          21https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8735562/

                                                                            22https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf

                                                                              23https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2019-05/Using%20Food%20Guide.pdf

                                                                                24https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493187/

                                                                                  25https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536983/

                                                                                    26https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448065/

                                                                                      27https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/

                                                                                        28https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814621011511

                                                                                          29https://www.who.int/tools/elena/commentary/fruit-vegetables-ncds

                                                                                            30https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33208922/

                                                                                              31https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9462539/

                                                                                                32https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31963141/

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                                                                                                We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.Advertising DisclosureThis is a user-oriented comparison website, and we need to cover hosting and content costs, as well as make a profit. The costs are covered from referral fees from the vendors we feature. Affiliate link compensation does not affect reviews but might affect listicle pages. On these pages, vendors are ranked based on the reviewer’s examination of the service but also taking into account feedback from users and our commercial agreements with service providers. This website tries to cover important meal, coffee and pet food delivery services but we can’t cover all of the solutions that are out there. Information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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