Digestive health is vital to your overall health. What you absorb from what you eat ultimately plays a large part in determining how healthy you are overall. A variety of plant-based foods are packed with nutrition that support good digestion, specifically fiber and usable carbohydrates that your body can process into energy. They also contain proteins and healthy fats that benefit your muscles, mood, brain, and heart. When it comes to creating a healthy diet, a variety of food choices is ultimately best. It’s also important to eat whole foods as much as possible versus processed foods.

Why Green Foods Are Good for The Gut

Green foods are some of the densest sources of nutrition you can eat. Not only because they’re low in calories, but because of how they support good gut health. For one, greens are virtually sugar and starch free, which makes them incredibly easy to digest. Sure, they’re high in fiber, but this fiber keeps your digestive tract moving and because these are relatively low-carbohydrate foods, greens digest easier than many other fiber-rich foods such as beans, legumes, and some grains. Greens are also rich in chlorophyll, which lowers inflammation in all parts of the body, including the digestive tract. Ever had an acidic stomach? No fun, right? What about indigestion? Nope, it’s a bummer too, which is why it’s important to eat enough greens on a regular basis to keep your body alkaline, especially your digestive system. View your digestive system like a pathway – you have two choices: you can feed it junk and end up feeling like junk, or you can feed it well and reap a host of benefits. Anyone that eats a larger amount of greens and healthy vegetables than processed foods will tell you how energized they feel and how much less they suffer from digestive complaints such as an acidic stomach, slow digestion, and even chronic stomach inflammation. That being said, here are 5 green foods that act like magic in your gut:

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1. Arugula

arugula

Though it’s a lesser discussed green, arugula deserves more attention than it gets. This delightfully peppery green is fantastic for promoting a healthy digestive system due to high amounts of magnesium and Vitamin C. Both of these necessary nutrients help decrease stress and inflammation and also promote regularity and healthy digestion. Arugula has also been linked to fighting multiple types of cancer, including colon cancer. Use this delightful green more often, perhaps in the greens you rotate when making smoothies, or on a yummy and crispy, raw fresh salad.

2. Parsley

Parsley

Parsley is one of the best green herbs to promote cleansing and detoxification in the body. It’s richer in Vitamin C than most other greens and is also packed with protein- who knew!? Parsley is also a great alkalizing food and helps detox the body from heavy metals. It’s very easy to digest compared to some more fiber-rich greens like raw kale and is great to make a tasty juice with. You can also use it to make smoothies with or dice it up and chop it onto any salad, in an entree, or use it in soups, raw pizzas or even puree it into a dip! Tip: Add a squeeze of lemon to help with the sharp bite of parsley and increase the alkalizing benefits as well.

3. Cilantro

cilantro

Like parsley, cilantro is one of the best detoxifying greens you can consume. A powerful herb, it helps promote healthy digestion by increasing regularity and whisking toxins out of the body, specifically lead and heavy metals. This green is commonly known for being an ingredient in guacamole and salsa. One reason being that it’s both cooling to compliment the peppers used and because it also has a naturally peppy flavor. Coriander, the seed of the plant cilantro comes from, is also similar in the same benefits and can be used for detoxifying and digestive health benefits as well.  Try cilantro in healthy chickpea tacos, lentil soup, and check out all the creative ways you can use this herb and more in all your healthy dishes.

4. Zucchini

organic produce

Zucchini is incredibly low in starch, so it’s easier to digest than some other higher carbohydrate foods and it’s also rich in potassium and Vitamin C, two nutrients that reduce inflammation and keep things moving! Zucchini also promotes regularity because of the balance of soluble and insoluble fiber it contains. In addition, this squash helps soothe the stomach because it’s naturally alkalizing due to high amounts of chlorophyll and water. Zucchini should be bought organic since it’s high in pesticides in conventional form and one of the most common crops to be genetically modified. Use a slicer or mandoline to turn zucchini into noodles in place of grains in your next lasagna, snack on it with some salsa or hummus, top salads with it, grill or roast it, or even freeze it into cubes and make your smoothie frosty without the need for bananas!

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5. Asparagus

grilled asparagus

Asparagus is fantastic for digestion! This food helps promote regularity, decreases bloating, contains fair amounts of protein (4 grams per cup), and is rich in folate, an important B vitamin for your health. Asparagus is also easier to digest than some other veggies like broccoli, and it adequately helps your body detoxify from harmful substances. Its natural bright green color indicates its high chlorophyll content which ensures it will help decrease inflammation. The best part is that asparagus has a naturally sweet flavor and makes a great addition to literally anything. Grill it, snack on it raw, add it to any entree, sauce, or salad. Try it with zucchini in this Early Summer Light Veggie Saute!

Obviously, kale and spinach, not to mention romaine, watercress, celery, and any other green piece of produce, or even superfoods like spirulina and cholorella will benefit digestion and help keep the body alkaline. It’s also important to eat probiotic-rich foods or take a supplement, eat a clean diet free from sugar, alcohol, and either reduce or eliminate the animal products in your diet to counteract acidity and inflammation. Overall, don’t fear the green; your gut’s gonna love ’em!

Lead Image Source: Till Westermayer/Flickr

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