What do they provide and are there some that are better than others?
Leafy greens provide a variety of benefits. They are often a good source of fibre, iron, folate and magnesium. They are also often very high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium and calcium. A real vitamin power house.
The important thing to remember is that not all leafy greens are created equal. As a good rule of thumb, the darker the greens the richer the nutrients. For example, on average one cup of iceberg lettuce has about 7% of your vitamin A for the day and 3% of your vitamin C for the day. Compare that to kale which has 206% of your vitamin A for the day and 134% of your vitamin C for the day.
Bit of a difference right?
That is not to say iceberg lettuce does not have it's place. It is still a great filler for salads or to add for a crunch to your sandwich. Just remember to mix in some darker green options as well to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.
It is also important to remember that leafy greens are delicate and are very exposed to the environment when they grow. Because of this, they can have a lot of residues on them from farming pesticides. Be sure to wash your greens very thoroughly before use because of this.
Other than that enjoy your greens! Not just in salads but roasted like chips or in a tasty soup. The possibilities are endless!
If you would like to learn more, I will be at the Hamilton Farmer's Market this Saturday (march 8th) cooking up a leafy green storm at 12pm. Hope to see you there!