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Get the Benefits of Green on St. Patrick's Day

Written by Tracey Dillon, Dietitic Intern - NDSU Extension Service

St. Patrick’s Day is an Irish celebration of a man who spread Christianity. March 17 is a day to reflect, celebrate and spread the word of God, as it is the day this patron saint passed. This holiday is celebrated by wearing/decorating with green because of Ireland’s green shades of grass and shamrocks. Other customs are finding a four leaf clover for good luck and watching out for the Irish legend of the leprechauns.

Eat Some Greens!

We often wear or decorate with green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by. So why not eat green foods as well?

Green foods get their color from a pigment called “chlorophyll.” Phytochemicals (“plant chemicals”) have many health benefits including antioxidant effects and wound healing. The phytochemicals in green vegetables are known as indoles and isothiocyanates which along with antioxidants also can help your body fight against cancer-causing agents.

The lutein in some green foods is good for your eyes and helps prevent macular degeneration as we age. In wound healing, it can slow the growth of some bad bacteria.

Green leafy vegetables are good sources of riboflavin, beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron, vitamin K, folate, B vitamins, potassium, calcium and fiber.

If you’re serving for a party or your family, provide appetizing, bright-colored fruits or vegetables. To enhance the green of your vegetables, such as raw broccoli or green beans, blanch them before serving.

To blanch veggies, briefly dip them in boiling water, then quickly put them cold water to stop the cooking process if you are serving them raw. If you prefer cooked vegetables, blanching (boiling) or steaming are great ways to bring out color. However, cooking greens for longer periods of time can cause them to lose their bright color and take on an “olive green” appearance, which may be less appetizing.

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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