Eat up your green leafy vegetables
Physician's Weekly
November 7, 2023

Eat up your green leafy vegetables

The scientific evidence shows that the regular consumption of green leafy vegetables (GLVs), listed below, reduces our chances of developing a range of cancers, lowers the risk of dementia, strengthens our immune system, and imparts a plethora of other health benefits.

They are the most nutrient-rich vegetables on our planet, with watercress topping the list.

Those listed below are often referred to as “superfoods”, because of their extensive spectrum of beneficial nutritional offerings.

Examples of nutrient-dense GLVs

  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage – all types
  • Callaloo – all types
  • Cauliflower
  • Chinese cabbage – Bok Choy
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Watercress

What makes GLVs so healthy

  •  They are low in calories.
  • Steeped in soluble and insoluble fibre.
  • Rich in the vitamins A, Folate, C, E, and K.
  • High in phytonutrients.
  • Lavish in glucosinolates.
  • Excellent source of sulfur-containing chemicals, flavonoids, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, selenium, calcium, and omega-3.
  • They are filling and by extension, de facto appetite suppressants.

Specific health benefits of GLVs (listed above)

The glucosinolates within reduce the chances of one developing a wide range of cancers – e.g. breast, prostate, pancreatic, colon, kidney, ovarian, uterine/ endometrial, bladder, and lung.

  • For a variety of cancers, studies strongly suggest that by consuming GLVs one can slow the spread of the cancer.
  • Reduce the chances of getting a stroke. Their flavonoids, antioxidants, and nitrates are responsible for conferring such a benefit.
  • Promotes good heart health. Their glucosinolates reduce the build-up of fatty deposits within the coronary arteries.
  • They are packed with lutein, beta carotene, folate, and phylloquinone which helps to reduce the chances of dementia.
  • They help to stabilize blood pressure, blood sugar, and lower cholesterol. The high fibre content helps with the control of blood sugar and cholesterol. Sulforaphane helps to regulate blood pressure.
  • Their indole derivatives have anti-inflammatory properties which may help with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune conditions.
  • Their high fibre content keeps the bowels regular and reduces the incidence of diverticular disease.
  • Their glucosinolates strengthen your immune system.
  • Protect cells from oxidative damage via isothiocyanates.
  • Their relatively high concentrations of vitamins A, C, E, potassium, and sulfur slow the aging of the skin.
  • They are a great source of vitamin C.
  • Their vitamin K and calcium slows bone demineralization and helps slow the development of osteoporosis.
  • Vitamin K also helps with blood clotting.
  • Folic acid reduces the chances of spina bifida (a birth defect)
  • They are low in calories and bulky in nature which makes them an integral part of any weight loss diet.
  • Contribute to the regulation of oestrogen blood levels by way of 3,3-Diindolymethane (DIM).

The downside of GLVs

  • May cause gas and bloating – especially when they are consumed excessively
  • If on the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin), they must be avoided. There are no known GLV-drug interactions with the newer anticoagulants (blood thinners) – e.g. Xarelto (Rivaroxaban), Pradaxa (Dabigatran), and Elequis (Apixaban).
  • If hypothyroid you may still eat GLVs, however, they should be consumed cooked and limited to 5 ounces or less per day.

Myth regarding GLVs

There is an age-old tale that one should not consume GLVs, if one suffers from high blood pressure. Those spreading such a folk tale even go on to buttress their advice by cautioning that these vegetables “build blood” and in so doing make the blood pressure worse. For the record, there is no credible scientific evidence that lends even a modicum of credibility to this fable.

Long story short: It is not only safe to eat these vegetables if you suffer from hypertension, they are also highly recommended. The potassium within helps to lower blood pressure.

Preparing and consuming GLVs

Unless medically contraindicated, it is recommended that adults consume 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. This can be made up wholly or partially of GLVs.
The cooking of GLVs is a double-edged sword. While cooking may reduce the levels of vitamin C, folic acid, flavonoids, and beta carotene, however, cooking increases the bioavailability of iron, calcium, and some antioxidants.
Research has shown that steaming is the best way to get the most nutritionally out of your vegetables, including GLVs. In contrast, boiling is the least effective. Between these two extremes, one can eat them raw, stir-fried, roasted, microwaved, or sauteed.

How to get children to eat more GLVs

  • Be a good role model for your children by eating GLVs regularly.
  • Emphasize that eating these vegetables will make them grow healthier, smarter, taller, and stronger.
  • Praise them even when they take a small serving.
  • Encourage older children to join you in the kitchen and get them to include GLVs in their cooking.
  • Encourage them to have vegetables as snacks.
  • Expose them to a wide variety of vegetables.
  • Find smart and various ways to incorporate vegetables into their main meals.


Author: Dr. C. Malcolm Grant – Family Physician, c/o Family Care Clinic, Arnos Vale,,, 1(784)570-9300 (Office), 1(784)455-0376 (WhatsApp)

Disclaimer: The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Dr. C. Malcolm Grant, Family Care Clinic or The Searchlight Newspaper or their associates, respectively, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information provided above.