Dark leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses, loaded with iron, calcium, fiber and vitamins A, C, and K. Are you eating enough?

Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuces, collard greens, arugula, and other greens help lower cholesterol, boost energy, preserve eye health and reduce inflammation, among other benefits. They also contain compounds and anti-inflammatory properties that can protect your heart.

How to Incorporate More Veggies into Your Diet

For all the reasons to pile on the greens, not everyone loves eating huge salads day in, day out. To channel your inner Popeye and incorporate more green stuff in your diet, here are six tasty ways to think outside the bowl:

1. Sneak them into a shake.

When added to a shake, the taste of spinach, chard and some other greens mysteriously disappears. Try adding two cups of beet greens to your shake, which are high in vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. Beet greens also have more iron than spinach.

Make Veggies Delicious

2. Stuff them into a sandwich.

Make your sandwich rise to the occasion by stuffing it with less meat and more vegetables. Pile a fistful of spinach onto your chicken sandwich or add several leaves of romaine to your turkey on whole grain. Add a slice of avocado for some heart-healthy fat.

As an alternative, replace your tortilla with Bibb lettuce, romaine or cabbage for a more nutrient-rich, low carb wrap. Try these sweet and sour lettuce wraps for a vegetable-packed lunch or snack.

3. Sautee them with garlic and olive oil.

Kale’s bitter taste and tough texture are hard for many to swallow. However, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense greens in the garden. One cup of raw kale gives you double the RDA of vitamin A, more than 100 percent of vitamin C and a whopping six times the RDA for vitamin K.

Vitamin K—found in broccoli, kale, parsley, iceberg lettuce, and spinach—regulates blood clotting. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, teens that consumed an adequate amount of vitamin K were less likely to develop left ventricular hypertrophy (enlarged heart). The authors concluded vitamin K essentially keeps your heart strong.

For an easy side dish, sauté a bunch of chopped dino (lacinato) kale with olive oil, garlic, a touch of red pepper flakes and a dash of red wine vinegar to season. Voila!

4. Stir them into a soup.

Greens work well in all kinds of soups and stews. Consider kale for Italian soups and Swiss chard for bean-based recipes. Like kale, chard is packed with A, C and K, as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron.

When it’s cold outside, try a protein-packed vegetable and chicken soup.

5. Savor them in pesto.

Replace half or more of the basil in your favorite pesto recipe with kale or spinach. You won’t taste the difference, and you’ll give your pasta a nutritional boost.

Bonus: basil contains powerful essential oils that help lower the inflammation, reducing the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, arthritis, and other diseases.

6. Scramble them into an omelet.

Many of us shy away from eggs because of their cholesterol content. However, when eaten in moderation, they have their place in a balanced diet. Egg yolks contain choline, which is important for metabolism and heart health. If you’re managing your blood pressure, use a combination of one egg and egg whites. Start your day with an omelet stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and other veggies of choice.

Most of us struggle to eat the recommended five to nine daily servings of fruit and vegetables. With a little creativity, you can up your greens consumption and add variety to your meals at the same time.

Susan Bowerman

Susan BowermanM.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training

Susan Bowerman is the senior director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife. She also serves as the Vice Chair of the Dietetic Advisory Board (DAB). As a registered dietitian, she educates distributors about our global nutrition philosophy and is responsible for developing nutrition education and training materials. Bowerman earned a B.S. in Biology with distinction from the University of Colorado and an M.S. in Food Science and Nutrition from Colorado State University. She is a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and holds two board certifications as a specialist in Sports Dietetics and in Obesity and Weight Management. When she is not busy teaching and writing, Susan enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and gardening. Her favorite Herbalife products include Simply Probiotic and Herbalife Formula 1 Healthy Meal Nutritional Shake Mix Banana Caramel.