During the telegraph era, humans started to formulate abbreviations to communicate. Today, abbreviated texting lingo abounds. It is referred to as SMS language or textspeak. I am admittedly slow with cultural change, but I do know how to interpret l8r, lol, omg, lmao, omw, wth, ttyl, smh, irl and the like. Ok, tbh idk what all those mean. Even medical research papers abound with abbreviations, which I find even more challenging to keep up with. However this one was catchy: GLV. GLV stands for green leafy vegetable.

Though perhaps the most nutrient dense food on the planet, GLVs are the least consumed food group in the United States. In fact, from age 1-30 the average American gets half a serving or less of GLVs daily. When we hit 51, we begin eating 1 whole serving a day, which is still well below the recommended 2-2 ½ servings daily.1 More generally, boys age 9-13 and girls age 14-18 have the lowest intake in vegetables. Americans as a whole don’t meet recommended vegetable intake for any of the subgroups, except maybe root vegetables, thanks to french fries.

…GLVs improve blood vessel elasticity and are a rich source of minerals such as magnesium…

GLVs are a nutritional gold mine. They could change how you age. A large study of 960 participants, age 58-99 found that eating just one serving of GLVs a day (half a cup cooked or one cup raw) was found to slow cognitive decline, “the equivalent of being 11 years younger in age.” 2

A meta-analysis of 8 studies included 540,000 participants of which 26,173 had known cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers wanted to know if an increased intake of GLVs significantly reduced the incidence of CVD? The evidence suggests yes. Researchers found that there were potentially several different ways that GLVs proffered protection.3 One way that GLVs reduced CVD was by binding bile acid. Bile plays an important role in digestion by emulsifying, or breaking down, fat goblets. Because bile is made from cholesterol, the excretion of bound bile has the potential of lowering cholesterol levels. However, the role of bile is much more involved and complex than merely its role in fat digestion. Bile acid acts as a signaling molecule. Bile acid receptors have been found on cardiovascular tissue enabling bile to have a direct influence on cardiovascular function. That means it can alter heart rate and modify blood vessel dilation, thus impacting circulation.4

Additionally, GLVs improve blood vessel elasticity and are a rich source of minerals such as magnesium, which is vital to optimal heart health and function. Magnesium intake has been inversely associated with hypertension and CVD, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.5

GLVs contain compounds called thylakoids that are critical to the process of photosynthesis. Greater concentrations of thylakoids exist in darker leafy greens compared with lighter ones. Thylakoids contain powerful bioactive substances including vitamin E, vitamin K, pigments and antioxidants such as chlorophyll, carotenoids, zeaxanthin, and lutein.6 Thylakoid ingestion has been associated with suppressing hunger, cravings, and thoughts of food. Thylakoid supplementation was given with meals after which researchers measured appetite-regulating hormones. We have hormones that signal food—“feed me!” And we have hormones that signal fullness—“no thanks, not interested, I’m full.” These hormones are largely produced in the gut.

Thylakoid ingestion has been associated with suppressing hunger, cravings, and thoughts of food.

Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a hormone that causes the release of enzymes and bile from the gall bladder and is an appetite suppressant. When participants ate the meal supplemented with a placebo, researchers saw a natural elevated release of CCK 30 minutes after eating. When the meal was supplemented with thylakoid however, an additional CCK peak was experienced four hours after eating. It was observed that it suppressed appetite and decreased interest in fatty and sugary foods. The decreased appetite and increased appetite hormones were seen in either carbohydrate- or fat-rich meals when they were supplemented with thylakoid.7

Other research focused on the same topic has looked more extensively into the mechanisms and found that thylakoids remain in the stomach and intestines for several hours before being degraded. This extended time is thought to delay fat digestion and absorption and allow the digestive products to reach the distal intestine. There it stimulates the release of satiety hormones such as CCK over a longer period of time. Another study found that thylakoid supplementation resulted in suppressed cravings, increased sense of feeling satisfied, and reduced appetite three hours after the meal.  Interestingly, researchers observed increased secretion of CCK at the same post-meal 3-hour time point. Researchers saw an association between thylakoid and elevated CCK with reduced urge to eat, thoughts of food and increased sense of satiety.8

While raw salads and green smoothies can be an excellent way of consuming GLVs, cooking is valuable too. Steam cooking improves the bile binding of collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and cabbage in one study. 9 Choose dark greens from among these just mentioned or others such as spinach, arugula, kale, bok choy, Swiss chard, beet greens, watercress, Romaine, etc.

God has abbreviated His own holy name in three letters, YAH. Perhaps God is wanting to be so well known and understood by us, that when we see those letters it would communicate a power, a love, a strength, with an infinity beyond.

  1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 Eighth Edition, https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/.
  2. Martha Morris et al., “Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study,” Neurology, Jan 16,2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5772164/.
  3. Richard Pollock, “The effect of green leafy and cruciferous vegetable intake on the incidence of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis,” JRSM Cardiovascular Disease, Jan-Dec 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4973479/.
  4. Sandeep Khurana et al., “Bile Acids Regulate Cardiovascular Function,” Clinical and Translational Science, June 4, 2011,  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705909/.
  5. Richard Pollock, “The effect of green leafy and cruciferous vegetable intake on the incidence of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis,” JRSM Cardiovascular Disease, Jan-Dec 2016, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4973479/.
  6. Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson and Per-Åke Albertsson, “The Use of Green Leaf Membranes to Promote Appetite Control, Suppress Hedonic Hunger and Loose Body Weight,” Plant foods for Human Nutrition, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4539357/.
  7. Ibid.
  8. E. Stenblom et al., “Supplementation by thylakoids to a high carbohydrate meal decreases feelings of hunger, elevates CCK levels and prevents postprandial hypoglycaemia in overweight women,” Appetite, Sept 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23632035.
  9. Candida J. Rebello et al., “Acute Effects of a Spinach Extract Rich in Thylakoids on Satiety: A Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Volume 34, 2015, issue 6, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07315724.2014.1003999.
Health Educator at Light Bearers

Risë is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and has been writing and teaching about health for many years. She loves the health message and takes great pleasure in seeing people thrive by the application of its principles. Her research and down-to-earth manner allow her to offer up the health message in both an intelligent and accessible manner. She and her husband, James Rafferty, have two children.