Appears the interim director of Uptown Greenville has good knowledge of its operations. So let's look elsewhere, form a...

Identifying dark leafy greens

Kolasa, Kathy

Kathy Kolasa


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Q: You write about eating more dark leafy greens. I don’t know what you mean. Don’t tell me to look it up on the web. I don’t use a computer. HF, Farmville

A: I of course, like all the nutrition experts, encourage you to eat more vegetables. The MIND diet, a science-based diet to help prevent memory loss, specifically recommends eating at least one serving of green leafy vegetables each day. Hopefully this description will help you know that that means.

Let’s start with lettuces. The dark green lettuces that we easily find in Pitt County are romaine (like you find in a classic Cesar salad), green leaf, arugula, bibb and butterhead. Some people find these lettuces a bit bitter, especially if they are used to eating only iceberg lettuce. By the way, iceberg is not one of the lettuces promoted since its nutrient value is OK but not great. With time, you might discover how tasty these lettuces are and they are great sources of vitamins A, C, and K.

If you are taking a blood thinner, you may need to tell your doctor you want to eat dark greens daily. They may want to adjust your medicine so you can without a problem.

Another type of dark leafy green would be a cruciferous leafy green. Lots of people in eastern North Carolina enjoy collard greens and cabbage. When we came to North Carolina in 1983, we only were served collards cooked for a long time and seasoned heavily with fat meat. We also have been served it deep fat fried collards. The health goal is to eat dark leafy greens without a lot of added fat or sugars or sauces. I find collards quite tasty when just lightly sautéed in olive oil.

Kale, mustard greens, beet greens, watercress, bok choy and rapini are in this group too. I don’t regularly see rapini (sounds like rah-PEE-nee) — also called broccoli rabe — in our local markets. It is a member of the turnip family and looks a little like a broccoli that didn’t form a head. The stalks, leaves and flowers are all edible. Most people like these greens cooked at least a bit. If you sauté them use herbs and spices and just a few drops of healthy oils like canola or olive.

In addition to being helpful in preventing memory loss, eating cruciferous vegetables is great for reducing risks for some cancers because of the glucosinolates. These greens also are great sources of magnesium and tryptophan which are great for both heart and mind.

Another family of leafy greens is called Amaranthacea — you would recognize spinach and swiss chart. Most of us grew up with Popeye the sailor man popping his can of spinach. It’s one of the few vegetables known for the nutrient iron. If you think you don’t like spinach because it seems a bit slimy when cooked, try it raw, chopped and steamed.

Some people like wild or edible green leaves. I see them in specialty markets in Raleigh and have been served them in some restaurants. They include dandelion, red clover, plantain, watercress and chickweed. If you don’t use weed killers in your yard, you might pick some and add them to raw salads, stir-fries, soups or salads.

Many of the nutrients found in dark leafy greens are fat soluble. So, it is helpful to have a bit of healthy fat at the same time as the vegetable. I’ve already mentioned sautéing with a healthy oil. You could also toss in a few nuts or a bit of avocado with the greens. Note that a serving is 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked.

In addition to the dark leafy greens, you do want to aim for eating at least one other vegetable a day (of course more would be better). I mentioned the cruciferous greens, but you might enjoy other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

The brain health study included at least two servings of cruciferous vegetables a week. Some of the best “other” vegetables because of the high nutrient content recommended by Dr. Martha Morris, the creator of the MIND diet, are asparagus, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, radishes, squash, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, yams and zucchini. She, like me, remind you that healthy vegetables can be fresh, frozen, canned, and dried — as long as the frozen and canned don’t have lots of sauces, sugars and fats added. And generally speaking, a serving is ½ cup.

The studies on brain health don’t include white potatoes. So, we don’t know if they help, hurt or don’t make any difference. Potatoes are a major source of vitamin C in the American diet and a good source of dietary fiber. If you cut out white potatoes, make sure you have other sources of vitamin C and dietary fiber. Some scientists worry about the glycemic index (GI) of potatoes which is high in its raw state. But if you add a touch of a healthy fat to them, you lower the GI and it is less likely to be harmful. Until we know more, if you enjoy white potatoes, just be mindful of the calories you are getting and don’t count them as a serving of vegetables for the MIND diet. There’s no harm in eating more of the dark green leafy vegetables every day.


Professor emeritus Kathy Kolasa, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Ph.D., is an affiliate professor in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Contact her at kolasaka@ecu.edu.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


August 16, 2019


Jazz fundraiser

The Churches Outreach Network will present an Evening of Jazz fundraiser from 6:30-9 p.m. today at Yankee Hall Plantation, 3332 Yankee Hall Road. The event, which will celebrate 11 years of service by CON, will include a three-course meal and a live jazz ensemble. Tickets are…


August 14, 2019

Q: I decided to try to use olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Standing in front of the olive oil section I couldn’t figure out what to buy. Can you help? KP, Farmville

A: You share the same dilemma with many of us. On a recent trip to Boston I went into a great market that had an entire…


August 11, 2019

Before she graduated from high school, Ghita Harris worked as a medical research assistant in the ECU School of Medicine, an opportunity that would have seemed to have put her on the fast track to becoming a physician. But more than two decades later, her journey has just begun.

The Greenville…


August 11, 2019

Over 50 years ago, I had a Swedish girlfriend.

It never turned into anything long-term. But the fact that I met the Swedish girl before I met the girl I ended up marrying clearly introduced several complications into both relationships. And it has produced a tale that my wife Ruthie has never tired…


August 10, 2019


Relay fundraiser

Relay for Life Pitt County will host its annual Purple Ribbon Charity Dinner and Silent Auction from 7-11 p.m. today at The Cotton Barn, 942 Laurie Ellis Road, Winterville. The theme is “Eat, Drink, and be Charitable.” Tickets are $50 each or $75 per couple. Visit…

August 09, 2019


Play festival

Magnolia Arts Center, 1703 E. 14th St., will host the annual 10-minute Play Festival performance at 7:30 p.m. today. Tickets are $10. Visit magnoliaartscenter.com.

Music in the Park

Grimesland’s monthly Music in the Park series continues at 6:30 p.m. today at Grimesland…

August 09, 2019

Capsules of movies playing locally. New releases are indicated with an asterisk.

*BRIAN BANKS — The inspirational true story of Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge), an All-American high school football star committed to USC who finds his life upended when he is wrongly convicted of a crime he…

August 07, 2019

In the South, we have a connection to the land and its people. We root ourselves in the soil, nourish ourselves with the fruits and vegetables that grow and use products created from natural elements sold by seasoned craftsman and farmers.

All of these wonderful treasures can be found at a farmers…


August 07, 2019

Q: My doctor told me to use spices and herbs instead of salt in my food. I looked at the spice section of the store and really didn’t know what to choose. What is your favorite one? FG, Greenville

A: That’s a simple question for me to answer — it is dill. A jar sits on our dining…


August 04, 2019

Being part of a group can oftentimes be intimidating and quite honestly scary, so when I was invited to be part of the Interfaith Clergy several years ago, I was excited and unsure at the same time.

I only knew two of the clergy in this group and being that I’m not clergy, I wondered if I…

133 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 14
        Next Page»   Last Page»