Monday, March 16, 2015


Get your green(s) on!

Unless you like being pinched (and if so, I don’t want to know), odds are that you’re wearing something green today—a shirt, a belt, a tie, an undergarment (again, no need to specify).  Even if you’re not Irish, you probably celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in one way or another, and for most of us that means donning green.
While contemplating your attire for this lively holiday, why not dress up your table (and your insides) too?  As any leprechaun knows, green vegetables provide some pretty amazing health benefits.  In addition to being low in calories and a great source of fiber, green veggies also typically have a surprising amount of iron and in many cases, calcium.  With each passing year, we discover more and more reasons to eat our greens (and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in general), as study after study cites reductions in the risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes in people who do so consistently.  That’s not just the luck o’ the Irish, that’s science, my friend.
But how can you squeeze those gorgeous greens into your holiday menu?
Well, you’ve probably heard that four-leaf clovers are lucky, but I know some “one-leaf clovers” that’ll make you feel like a million bucks (or should I say a pot o’ gold?) like spinach, kale, arugula, chard and other greens such as turnip or collards.  Why not serve a fresh and colorful mix of these next to your corned beef and cabbage?  Not only will you receive the wonderful benefits discussed above, but you will reduce the total sodium content of the meal since you will likely eat less of that admittedly-appetizing but super-salty corned beef!
And don’t forget your other greens, like broccoli, zucchini, green beans, asparagus and Brussels sprouts.  What better side dish for a hearty Irish stew?  Any of these emerald beauties are scrumptious steamed or roasted with a bit of olive oil and seasonings. 
Though it may seem a little cross-cultural, consider an appetizer that makes use of another green veggie — the avocado!  I know guacamole isn’t Irish, but it IS delicious and loaded with antioxidants and healthy fats.  Besides, you may as well perfect your recipe before Cinco de Mayo.
To reap all the benefits of these fortuitous super-foods, you should try to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables of all colors daily, including four or more servings of dark green leafy vegetables each week.
So this St. Patrick’s Day, avoid a pinch (and heart disease and diabetes and cancer) by getting your green(s) on.  Erin go bragh!
Jennifer Fetterley is a registered dietitian for the Backus Health System and Thames Valley Council for Community Action. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal healthcare provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Fetterley or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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