6 Types of Leafy Greens that Pack a Healthy Punch


6 Types of Leafy Greens that Pack a Healthy Punch

There’s a lot of information out there about what foods are good for you. Let’s just start with the basics: leafy greens contain many vitamins and minerals, each leaf is only a few calories, and locally grown, pesticide-free greens are easily accessible in many grocery stores.

We’ve put together a list of six greens and their health benefits so you can easily understand the best greens for your body’s needs. These greens range in flavor from sweet to bitter to spicy, and the textures range from leafy and tender to crispy and crunchy. Different greens have different nutrients, and, generally speaking, a leaf has more nutrients the darker it is in color. We’ve got recipe ideas for you, too, so you can easily add these greens to your diet.


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Romaine Lettuce

Background & History

Romaine lettuce, or Lactuca sativa of the Lactuca genus, received its name by Romans who discovered it growing on the Greek Island of Cos. In English-speaking North America it’s called Romaine, but elsewhere in the world, it’s called Cos. This lettuce is believed to be the oldest known cultivated lettuce at over 5,000 years old.

Nutrients & Health Benefits

Romaine has vitamins A, C, K, and folate; the minerals iron, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium; and contains fiber, protein and all nine essential amino acids. It also promotes heart health, prevents stroke, and builds healthy bones, eyes, skin, and mucous membranes.

    Vitamins
  • A
  • C
  • K
  • Folate
    Minerals
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Magnesium

Recipes

Add to a sandwich, use as a wrap, grill and serve with meat or fish, or braise and toss in soup. Chop and use as a base for salads like Caesar, Wedge or Waldorf.

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A head of romaine lettuce is usually only harvested once per season on a traditional farm. FreshBox Farms grows plants indoors in a controlled environment agriculture system, so a romaine plant can be harvested several times during its life cycle. Growing plants indoors means growing all year round, so we harvest romaine regardless of the season.


Green Leaf and Red Leaf Lettuce

Background & History

Green and red leaf lettuces are in the Asteraceae family, which includes many culinary items like sunflower seeds, artichokes, sweetening agents, cooking oils, coffee substitutes and herbal teas. These lettuces were first cultivated by ancient Egyptians in 2650 BC and introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus.

Nutrients & Health Benefits

They contain high amounts of vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, and folate, the mineral iron, and contain the phytonutrients beta-carotene, omega-3, omega-6, fiber, and calcium. They also help lower cholesterol, have anti-inflammatory properties, and the more red a leaf is, the more antioxidants it has.

    Vitamins
  • A
  • B6
  • C
  • K
  • Folate
    Minerals
  • Iron
  • Calcium

Recipes

Serve as a bed for proteins, fresh fruit and maybe some crumbled cheese. Try adding green and red leaf lettuces to your leftovers this holiday season in our Next Day Harvest Salad recipe.

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Since we grow our plants indoors, we have full control over the light that the plants receive. FreshBox Farms uses LED lights because they are energy efficient and provide a very specific light spectrum, allowing us to control aspects of growth and flavor.


Spinach

Background & History

Spinach, or Spinacia oleracea, is in the Amaranthaceae family, and a native of Asia. The earliest documentation of the spinach plant was recorded in Chinese, stating it was introduced into China via Nepal. During World War I, wine was fortified with spinach, because of its high iron content, and given to French soldiers weakened by hemorrhage.

Nutrients & Health Benefits

This plant has vitamins A, C, E, K, folate, and thiamin, the minerals iron, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium, and the phytonutrients fiber, calcium, manganese, and lutein. It maintains eye health and red blood cell function, strengthens bones, regulates heart rate and blood pressure, and combats free radicals.

    Vitamins
  • A
  • C
  • E
  • K
  • Folate
  • Thiamin
    Minerals
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Manganese

Recipes

Spinach was supposedly a favorite of Catherine de Medici, and dishes served on a bed of spinach are called “florentine” for her hometown of Florence. Try this florentine dish!

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Spinach plants are short and grow close to the ground. When grown outside, the leaves can get dirty and contaminated with whatever is in the soil. On a traditional farm, that usually means animal-based fertilizers which may be carrying E. coli and other bacteria. FreshBox Farms eliminates these contaminates by using a soil-less indoor growing system, which means no pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides.


Rainbow Chard

Background & History

Chard, or Beta vulgaris, also belongs to the Amaranthaceae family and is native to the Mediterranean. The leaf has a similar flavor, shape, and nutritional value to spinach, and chard is actually called spinach in South Africa and Australia. It has several cultivar groups: the sugar beet, the garden beet, the spinach beet, and the leaf vegetable chard. It’s hard to say exactly when chard was introduced because it has many cultivars referred to by many names. For example, the Italian words for chard and beet greens are so similar that it is difficult to distinguish between the two: bietole and biete are both used interchangeably.

Nutrients & Health Benefits

Rainbow chard contains vitamins A, C, E, K, folate, and thiamin, the minerals iron, potassium, and phosphorus, and contains the phytonutrients fiber, choline, calcium. It helps maintain connective tissue, regulate heart rate, blood pressure and sugar levels, prevents anemia, and boosts immunity.

    Vitamins
  • A
  • C
  • E
  • K
  • Folate
  • Choline
  • Thiamin
    Minerals
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Calcium

Recipes

Generally speaking, use the leaves as you would spinach and the stems as you would asparagus. Sautée the leaves and use in quiche or in a rice bowl. Pickle or sautée stems and use as pizza topping.Try this recipe for Chard and Gruyere Savoury.

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FreshBox Farms’ rainbow chard has incredible shelf life when properly stored, well beyond the norm. Our greens are grown in a super clean, soil-less environment, which means the leaves are not impacted by environmental factors, and they’re delivered to stores the same day that they are harvested, whereas other brands could spend more than a week in transit.


Kale

Background & History

Kale, or Brassica oleracea, is part of the Brassicaceae family. This family also includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. Historically, kale is important in colder regions due to its resistance to frost. In nineteenth century Scotland, kail was used as a generic term for dinner. Almost every house had a kale yard and preserved kale in barrels of salt. Kale continued to be extremely important until potatoes came to the Islands towards the end of the 18th century.

Nutrients & Health Benefits

This dark leaf is high in vitamins A, C, K, folic acid, and thiamin, the minerals iron, potassium, and the phytonutrients calcium, lutein, carotenoids, manganese, copper, and fiber. Kale helps lower cholesterol and the risk of cancer. It detoxes the body, prevents bone loss, has anti-inflammatory properties, and it helps with eyesight, the immune system, flexibility, hydration, and your metabolism. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, and ten times more vitamin C than spinach.

    Vitamins
  • A
  • C
  • K
  • Folic Acid
  • Thiamin
    Minerals
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Copper

Recipes

Use raw in a salad. Bake into chips. Juice or blend into a smoothie. Steam and serve with fish. Sautée and toss in soup or a pasta dish, like macaroni and cheese.

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Kale is a strong, fibrous plant, and the leaves get tough when stressed by an unpredictable, outdoor environment. FreshBox Farms’ kale is tender and rich in flavor because it’s grown indoors in a controlled environment where the plants aren’t subject to the harsh outdoor climate.


Arugula

Background & History

Arugula, or Eruca sativa, is a member of the Cruciferae family, along with horseradish and wasabi, hence that delicious peppery taste. The word arugula comes from the Italian word rucola, a derivative from the Latin eruca. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first appearance of “arugula” in American English to a 1960 New York Times food column.

Nutrients & Health Benefits

Arugula is high in vitamins A, C, K, folate, and thiamin, the minerals iron and potassium, and contains the phytonutrients calcium and riboflavin. It’s high in antioxidants, builds healthy bones, prevents arthritis and anemia, lowers LDL cholesterol, battles the onset of heart disease, and protects against cancerous growths.

    Vitamins
  • A
  • C
  • K
  • Folate
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
    Minerals
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

Recipes

Great in salads, pesto and sauces. Use as a leafy bed for grilled seafood, or use to top pizza and sandwiches. Pairs well with red meats, citrus, pine nuts, tomato and robust cheeses. In the Gulf of Naples, it’s even made into a Liqueur called Rucolino.

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When grown outside, arugula can become bitter in taste when stressed by the harsh conditions of an outdoor farm. We grow our arugula in a controlled environment agriculture system, and the natural flavors range in taste from spicy to mild.



FreshBox Farms achieves optimal growth of its plants by constantly monitoring all environmental variables, including light, temperature and water quality. Our constantly evolving control systems ensure that our greens have high quality color, texture, taste and nutritional content. Our Plant Science team continually screens for new cultivars that lead to the best leafy greens possible in FreshBox Farms’ controlled environment agriculture system.

FreshBox Farms grows all six of these leafy greens in Millis, MA in a soil-less, controlled environment agriculture system. We grow our plants with no pesticides, insecticides or herbicides, so our greens are much cleaner and fresher than greens from traditional farms. Look for FreshBox Farms greens in grocery stores across New England.