15/02/2013 12:36 GMT | Updated 17/04/2013 06:12 BST

Eat Your Greens - The Wonders of Kale and Broccoli

People come to see me because they are interested in losing body fat. I have helped many people to lose fat quickly, efficiently and in a manner that they can maintain. An initial consultation often reveals one recurring problem.

In my experience, the main mistake that people make is underestimating the importance of their diet. I have had people ask for five training sessions per week and then ask why I look like I have seen a ghost.

In my mind, there is no way that a normal person with a family, job, commute and friends can perform five relevant sessions in seven days.

The problem arises because people want to atone for their nutritional/lifestyle indiscretions by working even harder.

I have alluded to this in previous blogs - if you are stressed, overtraining (or more likely lacking sufficient recovery) eating the wrong food and drinking too much - it won't work. I have also stated that each individual will respond to a different nutritional, training, supplementation programme. However, there are a few universal foods that everyone should be eating. This blog will focus on the oldest staple out there. Greens.

I am hardly reinventing the wheel here. We all know that we meant to eat our greens. However, how many people actually do it? Keep a food diary for a week and you'll probably see a lot less than you should.

People look at me with confusion when they see the amount of kale and broccoli in my trolley - five a day is not wrong but it is certainly not right either. Make it your mission to eat that and more. If you are serious about being lean, happy and healthy these are essential.

Let's have a look at these dietary staples and why you will benefit from including them in your diet.

What is all the fuss about? Well, dark cruciferous green vegetables are a useful tool because of -

1. Fibre - we all need it and very few of us get enough of it. Patrick Holford tells us that the typical African diet has 55g of daily fibre. Our Palaeolithic ancestors got a whopping 100g per day. The western, modern equivalent? A measly 11g.

What does fibre do?

• Reduces the risk of bowel cancer.

• Lowers cholesterol.

• Improves blood sugar balance i.e. it slows the release of digested sugar.

2. The Brassica family (kale, cabbage, broccoli) all contain powerful phytochemicals (indoles) which can help to prevent cancer and aid healthy oestrogen excretion.

3. They help to make your system alkaline - healthy joints, better circulation and improved blood sugar management.

Top three

• Kale

• Why - Top Vegetable in the ORAC rating (mitigating free radical damage)

• Why - Contains organosulfur compounds (which can prevent cancer)

• Recipe suggestion - Steamed kale, toasted pine nuts, a few shavings of parmesan tossed in a light vinaigrette

• Broccoli

• Why - contains sulphur compounds that aid detoxification

• Why - boost your immune system

• Recipe suggestion -

• boil a whole floret of broccoli in a chicken stock for six mins

• soften an onion in coconut oil and add half a sliced red chilli, a finely chopped clove of garlic and 1tsp each of ground cumin and coriander plus seasoning

• Combine and blend for a delicious and nutritious soup

• Green Cabbage

• Why - One of the lowest calorie foods on the planet

• Why - Packed with magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C and K and high in fibre

• Recipe Suggestion -

• Remove leaves and cut out the thick central stalk

• Place the sliced leaves on top of each other (biggest outside)

• Roll up into a sausage shape and slice as thinly as possible

• Plunge in boiling water for 30 seconds

• Serve with a little butter along with chopped chestnuts and crispy bacon

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