Mustard greens This peppery plant is jam-packed with vitamins K, A and C, a triple threat of antioxidants that battle the effects of aging and disease. Heart-healthy nutrients like folate, fiber, potassium and beta-carotene also protect the heart and lungs, while calcium builds stronger teeth and bones. “By providing us with a diverse array of antioxidants, mustard greens help protect our bodies from damaging free radicals,” says Christine Avanti, C.N., holistic nutritionist in Los Angeles and author of Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads (Rodale). Raw or cooked, the pungent green works as a side or combined with casseroles or stir-frys.
Collard greens Bursting with betacarotene, vitamins C and K, calcium, iron and antioxidants (such as lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration), collard greens offer a bevy of health benefits, including cancer prevention, improved circulation, strengthened immune system and improved liver and kidney function, says Edwards. A member of the cabbage family, collards can be added to couscous, pasta dishes and quiche. Bonus: One cooked cup has 5 grams of filling fiber to help control hunger.
Arugula Classified as a cruciferous vegetable, this brother of broccoli has a leg up on lettuce. “Arugula contains about eight times the calcium, fives times the vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, and four times the iron as the same amount of iceberg lettuce,” says Shulman—not to mention more fiber, folate, protein, potassium and magnesium. Add it up and arugula can help defend against heart disease, osteoporosis, sun damage and certain cancers. Arugula’s peppery punch can perk up salads, sandwiches, soups, sautés and even pizza and quesadillas.[