The Best Leafy Greens to Eat (and, It’s Not Spinach or Kale)
Written by Our Official Science Steeper: Allison Tannis, MSc RHN
Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and kale, are known for their nutritional content, but there’s a better leaf to eat – tea leaves. Packed with fiber, plant-based protein, essential vitamins, and minerals, as well as some powerful antioxidants, freshly frozen tea leaves are highly nutritious. Do you eat your greens every day? It’s important – freshly frozen green leaves are powerhouses on your plate. Here’s how the best leafy greens stack up, and which is the best for you to eat.
What’s the Best Leafy Green to Eat?
The most nutritious leafy greens are those with the darkest colour. The dark vibrant colour of spinach and kale likely come to mind. But, despite being the most popular leafy greens, spinach and kale aren’t actually the best greens. You’d agree if you have ever seen fresh tea leaves – rich in vibrant green hues. According to research done at a Canadian laboratory, freshly frozen tea leaves contain a nutritional profile that knocks those superfood leafy greens, spinach, and kale, off their top spots on the list of best leafy greens.
5 Surprising Nutrients in Freshly Frozen Tea Leaves
- Plant-based Protein
1. Fresh Tea Leaves
The best leafy greens are freshly frozen tea leaves which are packed with antioxidants, plant-based protein, fiber, and other nutrients, including calcium and iron. You’ll be surprised at how much nutrition is in a simple tea leaf! There are so many nutrients in fresh tea leaves making it the best leafy green you can eat. Fresh tea leaves are an impressive source of plant-based protein, fiber, calcium, iron, vitamins, and minerals than other leafy greens. Learn more about what’s in a fresh tea leaf here. Antioxidant powerhouses, freshly frozen tea leaves are impressive – particularly when compared to your typical cup of dried tea. Freshly frozen tea leaves have an ORAC (antioxidant) level of 6890, while typical tea has about 1200. The most famous tea leaf antioxidant is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). EGCG is an impressive antioxidant that’s linked to improvements in health from reducing inflammation to the improvement in brain function, heart health, mood, and the structure of the skin.
Thought of as the best leafy greens to eat for iron, one cup of baby spinach (30g) contains about 0.4mg of iron, according to data from the USDA. Iron is vitally important, being the essential mineral required for red blood cells to be able to carry oxygen from your lungs to the cells around the body that need it to survive. Low iron is common among women. Leafy greens, particularly spinach are sources of plant-based iron. To improve the absorption of this plant-based iron, pair spinach with vitamin-C-rich foods, such as tomatoes, pineapple, raspberries, or bell peppers.
Look closely, and you’ll find kale contains lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that play roles in eye longevity. Kale is great as it lasts a long time in your fridge. The calcium in kale is actually more bioavailable than that found in milk, according to researchers. Kale is a source of fiber, which the researchers note act as prebiotics (the types of fibers the beneficial microbes in your gut need to flourish). Kale also contains higher levels of oxalates, tannins, and phytate than other leafy greens, which are considered anti-nutritive, putting it slightly lower in the ranking despite its impressive nutritional scores.
4. Brussels Sprouts
Powerhouses in terms of their protein content, a cup of Brussels sprouts contains almost 3 grams of protein, according to USDA data. Brussels sprouts are a source of fiber, selenium, and manganese. A cruciferous vegetable, Brussels sprouts are known for their health benefiting abilities, which according to the British Journal of Nutrition includes the potential to improve the long-term heart health of women: data from 684 women found those who ate more cruciferous vegetables had a lower chance of having an extensive build-up of calcium in their aorta. The researchers noted a wide variety of vegetables is good for overall health and wellbeing.
5. Romaine Lettuce
Romaine lettuce is a popular leafy green and shouldn’t be disregarded as a lesser choice. It’s the best leafy green for many families as it requires little more than a quick rinse to become the crunchy star of a quick lettuce wrap, sandwich, or Caesar salad. As for a little food fun fact, research is finding evidence that romaine lettuce may help with sleep: not surprising as lettuce seed oil has been used as a sleeping aid for pain and inflammation relief in folk medicine for a long time.
6 Healthy Reasons You Should Eat More Green Leaves, Backed by Science
- Boosts muscle function
- Higher levels of optimism
- Lowers risk of all-cause mortality (death)
- Slows cognitive decline
- Lowers distress and depression
- Reduces risk of heart disease
Why You Need to Eat Your Greens (Freshly Frozen Tea Leaf ‘Greens’, That Is!)
Eating just 100 grams of green leafy vegetables each day is powerful enough to reduce your risk of death by 25% say researchers in a 2021 study. Did that raise your optimism about the benefits of the green leaves you’ve been eating? Those who eat more green leafy vegetables are known to have higher levels of optimism and self-efficacy, as well as lower levels of distress and depression, note researchers. No wonder the expression, ‘eat your greens’ is becoming so popular. Freshly frozen tea leaves are a nutritious and convenient way to eat your greens.
Should You Eat Leafy Greens Every Day?
According to researchers at Tufts University, eating one serving of leafy green vegetables a day is powerful enough to slow cognitive decline. More than 17 studies advise munching on more green leafy vegetables to help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, eating fresh green leaves from a variety of plants, including freshly frozen tea leaves, is beneficial to your health in many ways, even as a way to boost muscle function. Fresh green leaves contain many nutrients, such as vitamin A, C, E, K, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium, folate, lutein, folic acid, isothiocyanates, plant-based protein, and fiber. But, since fresh green leaves lose nutritional value after they have been picked and are difficult for some people to access daily, choosing frozen can offer a convenient and nutritious source of leafy greens. You’ll find freshly frozen tea leaves from Millennia Tea in the freezer section of your favourite food retailer.
Ready to Eat the Best Leafy Green?
Millennia Tea Superfood Tea Cubes are the most anti-oxidant-rich tea leaves anywhere. Perfect for your green smoothie or as an easy superfood addition to soups, stews, curries, or salad dressings. Rich in plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, Millennia Frozen Tea Cubes are the best leafy green you’ll find in your freezer.
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