Not all greens should be treated equally.
Some have little to nothing going for them, cough cough iceburg.
They're two key indicators, that reveal nutrient and mineral richness. These traits are color and the arrangement of leaves. As a general rule of thumb the most nutrient dense are generally red or purple in color. These hues are indicators of the phytonutrients, anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants that have been found to fight cancer, lower blood pressure, and slow age-related memory loss. The second most nutritious greens are dark in color, and contain high amounts of lutein, another antioxidant shown to protect eye health and soothe inflammation.
Now, the arrangement of leaves can be a direct indicator of phytonutrients level. Leaves that are tightly wrapped (i.e. cabbage, iceberg lettuce) have the lowest nutrient content. On the contrary, leaves that are loose and spread open (i.e. kale) contain high amounts of bio nutrients. This characteristic of the plant illustrates its ability to protect itself from UV rays. Loose leaf plants must produce extra amounts of pigmented antioxidants to protect themselves from harmful rays. We then absorb these compounds and they become part of our own self-defense system and protection.
Tips to take to the market:
Choose dark green, purple or red colored leaves. Some non-lettuce that are higher in phytonutrients include spinach, endive, radicchio and arugula.
Loose leaf over bagged lettuce. If you opt for a bag mix, choose the one with the most range in color of greens and reds.
Avoid yellow, brown, and always check the use by date.
How to prepare your greens and store your greens in order to preserve the most nutrients:
Separate leaves from head of lettuce or empty bag.
Soak in cold water for 10 minutes.
Store in re-sealable bag that has been pricked with tiny holes, and squeeze out all remaining air.
* To get the most antioxidant content, tear lettuce into bite size pieces before eating