We’ve heard it before and then some: “eat your greens!” But what’s all that hype about anyway? Why the heck have our moms been nagging us to gorge on greens since the day we could chew? Well, dear green beans, the answer lies in the nutrients our greens carry—and that’s where the super greens really shine.
You see, not all greens are created equal. Super greens—like spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and barley grass—have the highest concentration of beneficial nutrients like vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. These nutrients are vital for preventing disease, boosting energy, stabilizing blood sugar, supporting detoxification, building healthy bones and muscles and improving digestive function. But there might be no nutrient more beneficial than the phytochemical chlorophyll.
The big “C”
The big “C” is kind of a big deal. Chlorophyll is a pigment that not only gives plants their gorgeous green hue but also converts light energy into plant fuel. Great for the plant, right? But what’s in it for us? The chlorophyll molecule is actually a doppelganger of the heme portion of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. High chlorophyll intake therefore equals higher levels of hemoglobin which translates to healthier, happier, oxygenated cells. So the more chlorophyll our greens contain, the more super they become!
With that in mind, let’s take a ride on the green side and explore just how super these greens can be:
Imagine a plant food that can provide more protein than a piece of steak. Too good to be true? Not so fast! Spirulina is a blue-green micro-algae and one of the highest known sources of protein on earth. It contains a whopping 65-70% complete protein, blowing steak right off the grill (only 20-25%). In addition to taking the cake as the protein powerhouse, spirulina is also loaded in trace minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc and is packed with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Studies have shown that regular consumption of spirulina can control blood sugar levels, combat fatigue (2 times better than ginseng), strengthen the immune system and even boost B12 levels in those who are deficient. Pass the spirulina, please!
Often confused with its algae cousin—the aforementioned spirulina—chlorella is a super contributor to overall health. Like spirulina, chlorella is an excellent source of B vitamins, vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, magnesium, chlorophyll and contains up to 50% protein. What separates this super green from the rest is its ability to bind toxins and carry them out the body. For this reason, chlorella is a go-to green for detoxification and chelation of heavy metals like mercury, lead and aluminum. It’s also effective in relieving PMS symptoms, reducing asthma attacks, treating skin ulcers (apply to skin and voila!) and boosting overall energy.
A star ingredient in juices and smoothies, wheatgrass is the sprouted grass of a wheat seed, harvested when the grass is at its nutritional peak. It has extremely high concentrations of vitamins, minerals (like iron, calcium, magnesium), antioxidants (like vitamins A, C, E), living enzymes, amino acids and of course, chlorophyll. In fact, one serving of wheatgrass juice is nutritionally equivalent to 3 cups of dark leafies. Talk about bang for your buck! When consumed on a regular basis, wheatgrass can regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, boost energy and immunity, balance intestinal flora, promote weight loss (via thyroid support), clear skin and rid the body of waste. What’s more, despite its grainy roots, the sprouting process rids wheatgrass of gluten and any other common allergens resulting in a gluten-free, alkalizing, blood purifying green.
Barley grass packs an impressive punch of nutritional goodness unlike any other green. It contains a whopping 11 times more calcium than cow’s milk, 5 times more iron than spinach and broccoli, 4 times more B vitamins than whole grains, and 7 times more Vitamin C than an orange. Yeah—it’s that super. Its antioxidant content is also cause for celebration. Barley grass is a free radical scavenger helping to reduce inflammation and prevent diseases like cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and atherosclerosis. If that wasn’t enough, a daily serving will help balance pH levels in the body, further reducing disease. Like wheat grass, the best way to enjoy barley grass is by juicing it in a green juice or smoothie or by drinking the juice on its own (one BG shot, por favor!).
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What are your thoughts on super greens? Which is your all-time favorite super green? Let us know in the comment box below. If you loved this article, why not share it with friends and family using the Facebook and Twitter links below? Cheers to a super you!
Photo by: Beata Rydyger