Eat your greens. This wasn't because mom wanted to punish us for being naughty. Her constant reminder at the dinner table didn't have anything to do with us being naughty or nice -- she merely wanted to keep us healthy and disease free!

What's the big deal with the green leafy vegetables, anyway? Really, why are they good for us? A lot, actually. The health benefits of your spinach, cabbage and turnip greens are far more than what you give them credit for. Those leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses that give you fiber, vitamins and minerals to keep you sharp, alert, active and healthy.

Their health benefits are outlined below:

1. Because they are very low in calories, leafy vegetables are ideal foods for weight management. Green smoothies with kale or arugula, for example, may be used to replace a meal or as snacks since they keep one fuller for longer. This can be attributed to the high water content in leafy greens.

2. They reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease because they are low in fat, high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. They also contain phytochemicals like lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene that fight free radicals and cancer. By consuming green leafies regularly, you also lower your risk of developing cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases. More importantly, these vegetables keep your immune system primed and functioning to ward off any disease that may attempt to weaken your body.

3. Increasing your leafy green intake to 1 serving per day lowers your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. This is because leafy greens are high in magnesium and have low glycemic values which do not cause spikes in your blood sugar levels.

4. Green leafy veggies promote bone health. This is because they have high levels of vitamin K that help in the production of the protein osteocalcin in the body.

5. Your iron and calcium requirement can be taken from green vegetables. Like carrots, beta-carotene can also be found in green leafy veggies.

6. Green leafy vegetables protect our eyes. They have lutein and zeaxanthin that protects the eye from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration that sometimes results in blindness among the older population. These same carotenoids also reduce the risk of certain types of cancers and other cardiovascular ailments.

7. The carotenoids and flavonoids in leafy greens are powerful antioxidants that have cancer-fighting properties. Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are rich in these antioxidants that have been proven to lower one's risk of breast, stomach and colon cancers. Quercetin is another antioxidant in leafy greens that exhibits inflammatory and anticancer properties. It prevents allergies as well.

So make green leafy vegetables a part of you and your family's diet. They are chockfull of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that simply cannot be copied by any other food source. You'd be doing the people you love a favor if you force them to eat their greens the way our mothers did when we were still kids. With the advent of technology, however, it is now possible for us to actually enjoy our greens. Simply combine your kale with fruits and blend them in a smoothie maker to make healthful green smoothies that your family will surely enjoy.

If you are really serious about nutrition, be sure to check out this Vita Mix review, there are lots of great Vitamix recipes that are incredibly healthy.

Author's Bio: 

Proud mother of 2 lovely girls, world traveler, and natural health advocate.