Nutritive value of green-leafy vegetables: The crispness of greens depends on the water in the cells. Partial dehydration of cells results in a change from crisp to a limp leaf. The leaves in consequences are low in carbohydrates and energy but they are good sources of β- carotene, calcium, riboflavin, folic acid, ascorbic acid, iron and vitamin K.
Generally green leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals. They are excellent in carotenes which are converted to vitamin A. Among all the greens colocasia leaves contain highest amount of carotene and cabbage has the least. The greener the leaves the higher the carotenes. β –carotenes are also good antioxidants.
Greens are good sources of B-vitamins particularly riboflavin and folic acid. Drying and withering reduce B-vitamins.
Green-leafy vegetables also contain vitamin C and can be used as substitute for fruits if needed. Agathi, drumstick leaves and coriander leaves contribute to vitamin C. The practice of using coriander as garnishing agent is good as heating results in some loss of vitamin C.
Green leafy vegetables are also rich in iron. The leaves normally discarded like cauliflower leaves and beetroot leaves are excellent sources of iron. Mint and mayalu (red bacchali) are good in iron content.
Agathi, colocasia leaves, drumstick leaves and fenugreek leaves contribute calcium in our diet. The availability of calcium and iron to the body is limited as greens also contain oxalic acid.
Greens generally are high in moisture and easily withered and need to preserve properly.
Greens are not good sources of protein, fat and carbohydrate and hence they do not contribute to the energy value of food.
Greens are good sources of fiber which help in preventing degenerative diseases.
Of all the green leafy vegetables agathi is the most nutritious one.