What is the healthiest food in the world? Is it meat, or milk? Surprisingly, no.
According to scientists, the foods that have the most nutrition for their weight are leafy greens like spinach, lettuce and cabbage.
These leafy greens provide the body with important vitamins and minerals like calcium, which is good for bones and teeth, and Vitamin C, which helps keep your hair and skin healthy.
Greens also have a lot of fibre, which keeps you feeling full after a meal and helps prevent certain diseases like diabetes.
Eating lots of leafy greens can even help you live longer. One study of 1,500 men found that those who ate 60 grams of vegetables daily lived longer than those who ate less than 20 grams of vegetables daily.
With all these benefits, scientists say it is best to eat five helpings of vegetables like leafy greens daily.
Greens already have a place in the typical Rwandan diet with dishes like isombe (cooked cassava leaves), but some Rwandans avoid greens because they don’t know how nutritious they are. Many Rwandans eat meals of just beans and potatoes or cassava, avoiding the vegetables because they don’t realize they are essential to good health.
Things are beginning to change though. As part of the government’s ongoing 1000 days campaign to eradicate malnutrition, people are being encouraged to plant gardens, and eat more vegetables and greens in general.
Here are three ways you can improve your own health by fitting more greens into your daily diet:
1. Start your meal with a salad. To make sure you get in your greens before you become full, you can eat a small salad before you start on the rest of your meal. A salad doesn’t have to be fancy. Try a mixture of spinach and tomato with a dressing of olive oil and vinegar.
2. Add it to foods you would normally eat. Try adding some greens into the foods that you already eat often. Instead of just dining on potatoes and beans, add some isombe. Mix some chopped spinach in with your rice, or add it to a soup with other vegetables. You can also use greens as a topping on your sandwich, or scatter them on top of pizza.
3. Hide your vegetables. If you don’t like the taste of greens, you can still eat them. Try sneaking them into food. You can easily blend a couple leaves of spinach into a fruit smoothie, or mix some chopped greens in with meat sauce used for pasta without any effect on the taste.