Greens not only taste great, they nourish our bodies with abundant vitamins and minerals. Even loose-leaf and butter-head lettuces, though lacking substantial amounts of beta carotene, have goodly amounts of iron and vitamin A, as well as fiber. Any particular green may have more or less of any particular vitamin; by eating a variety of greens you will add to the pleasures of your table, and fulfill your body’s needs naturally.
Beta carotene and related carotenoids, and vitamins B2, C, and E are classed as antioxidants; that is, they prevent breakdown of complex chemicals in biological tissues and systems. These antioxidants are found in abundance in all the dark green greens: spinach, chard, collards, kale, beet, turnip and mustard greens, and in red and yellow vegetables. Researchers are discovering that antioxidants have significant impact on reducing breast cancer, heart disease and cataracts.
Calcium is found in kale, bok choy, dandelion, mustard greens and watercress. Iron is substantially present in sorrel and endive, as well as the lettuces mentioned above. Sorrel, endive, butterhead and loose-leaf lettuces are rich in iron. Chicories such as radicchio, Belgian endive and escarole, as well as sorrel and loose-leaf lettuces, are good sources of vitamin A. Sorrel also has a good amount of vitamins B2 and C. All the chicories contain significant vitamin C. Spinach, dandelion and mustard greens, and the cresses are at or near the top of practically every list: iron, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamins A, B1, B2, niacin, and C. Spinach is also high in magnesium.