Many people are now considering switching to plant-based diets these days. The spread of the COVID 19 pandemic and the environmental concerns has made many to rethink what they are eating. Plant-based diets are claimed to be healthy when compared to animal foods, even though these diets lack many vitamins and nutrients required by the body. Of course, you can have multivitamin supplements to fill the nutritional gap while following a plant-based diet and this will be discussed at the end of this post. Let us now delve into the details of the vitamins and minerals that are present in dark leafy greens.
Leafy greens are an important part of many plant-based recipes and are a great source of many vitamins and minerals required by our body. Many of us may not like the taste of leafy greens and might wrinkle our noses at the thought of eating them. However, they are essential in a plant-based diet and are rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, and folate. Some of the health benefits of these vitamins are discussed below. If you are in need of an added motivation to fill your fridge with leafy greens, read ahead.
Vitamin A promotes bone growth, improves vision, cellular function, reproduction, and boosts immunity. Some of the excellent plant-based sources of vitamin A are corn, kale, wheat, and rice.
This vitamin promotes the healing of wounds and aids the body in absorbing iron. Vitamin C is needed for maintaining the health of bones, skin, and connective tissue. Moreover, this vitamin is a very powerful antioxidant. Amaranth is a good plant-based source of vitamin C.
This vitamin is essential for building immunity, slows the aging of the skin, fights free radical damage, and helps in metabolic processes. Among the different leafy greens, duckweeds have the highest concentration of vitamin E.
Vitamin K is essential for ensuring the health of bones and helps prevent osteoporosis and inflammatory health conditions.
This is a water-soluble vitamin and belongs to the B group of vitamins. Studies show that only half of the consumed folate is bioavailable. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and it is fortified in many food items. Folic acid is also available in the form of tablets that can be used as supplements. Folate can help improve fertility, promote the normal growth and development of the fetus, reduces cholesterol levels, risk of dementia, and colorectal cancer.
Minerals Present In Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are also good sources of many minerals that are required by the body. Adding leafy greens to your plant-based meal can ensure intake of minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. What health benefits of these minerals? Let us see.
Calcium is a mineral that is important to ensure bone health. Moreover, this mineral can protect from cardiovascular diseases and cancer, even though the researches on this subject are inconclusive.
Proper intake of magnesium can decrease the risk of osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. In addition, magnesium can decrease the frequency of migraine attacks and can help lower blood pressure.
This mineral plays an important role in cellular function taking place in our body and is necessary for the contraction of the heart and muscles. Potassium is also found to prevent osteoporosis.
Leafy greens are not only powerhouses of minerals and vitamins. They are also rich in fiber and can easily help you reach the recommended levels of fiber intake. For instance, a cup of spinach can offer 0.7 grams of fiber whereas a cup of lettuce can offer one gram of fiber. Consuming the recommended daily intake of fiber will help you prevent diabetes, control overeating, prevent colorectal cancer, ensure proper bowel movement, and gut health.
Do You Need Multivitamin Supplements If You Are Vegan?
While following plant-based meals, you need to understand that no two plant-based recipes are alike in terms of nutrition. Moreover, many aspects of your lifestyle need to be taken into account while deciding the dietary supplements that you require. This means that not everyone who follows a plant-based diet will need to add multivitamin supplements to their diet.
There is only a little evidence to suggest that lack of multivitamins can do you harm, and it is always a wise idea to discuss with your dietician or healthcare provider about adding multivitamin supplements to your diet. Your healthcare provider will be able to test the levels of these multivitamins in your body and then suggest remedial measures if needed.
It is true that having multivitamin supplements can help you fill the nutritional gap if any. However, you need to remember that these are called supplements as they are meant to supplement your diet and not substitute or replace for a balanced diet.