Three years ago, my family decided to become members of the San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society and adopt a California desert tortoise and a three-toed box turtle. I am a turtle and tortoise enthusiast because my grandmother raised and cared for abandoned turtles and tortoises during her 55-year residency in Long Beach, CA. When we would go and visit, I always loved helping her care for the turtles.
Now that I am a tortoise owner, I have become more aware of different types of salad greens because part of a tortoise’s diet comes from a selection of dark leaf greens. Here is a list of some dark leafy greens and their nutritional value. (Note: Not all of the selected greens are appropriate for a tortoise, visit San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society for a complete list of recommended greens.)
- Romaine lettuce: Rich in Vitamins C and K, beta carotene, and is considered a good source of fiber and minerals. Romaine lettuce is a good start to any salad and is very low in calories.
- Spinach: While some of us may have an image of Popeye the Sailor eating spinach to be strong, spinach is a very nutritious food. It contains antioxidants, Vitamins K, A, and C, manganese and folate. Spinach is another green that's low in calories.
- Bok Choy: This vegetable is a member of the cabbage family and has a long and established history in the Asian diet. Like spinach, bok choy has antioxidant sources from Vitamins A, C, and K. With only a small serving of bok choy, you get about 7 percent of your daily requirement of calcium which is good for your bone development and blood vessels.
- Dandelion greens: A personal favorite of my desert tortoise, dandelion greens have become a popular selection to the average garden salad. Dandelion greens contain vitamins but also a notable amount of minerals like iron, zinc, and potassium and calcium.
- Mustard greens: It’s recommended to sauté your mustard greens rather than boil them but however you chose to cook or eat your
mustard greens, you are getting a health benefit. Mustard greens have been linked (along with other greens) to help fight cancer because the nutritional value supports the body’s detox capabilities, antioxidant system, and its anti-inflammatory response.
Next time you visit the dark leafy green section of your grocery store or farmers market, pick up something new and add it to your salad. Your health will thank you for it.