It’s safe to say that most of us are fairly well versed on the numerous health benefits of eating our greens. Childhood memories may mean we still gag on Brussel’s sprouts or push our spinach to the side of the plate in favour for sweeter vegetables, but regardless, we know that the more greens we eat, the better off our bodies’ will be as a result! However, it’s just not always easy to get the quantities that we know we need. Step in three of the mightiest green ‘superfoods’ that only need to be consumed in small quantities to provide big results!
This microscopic blue-green algae is found in the alkaline waters of lakes which can be found on every continent. Spirulina is known as “super food” and was part of the staple diet of the ancient Aztec civilisation.
Spirulina contains a unique and powerful concentration of nutrients, unlike any other single grain, herb or plant. It contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), linoleic and arachidonic acids, high amounts of B12 for healthy red blood cells (especially beneficial to vegetarians), high iron content, 60-70% protein content, the essential amino acids, and chlorophyll. It also contains liberal quantities of beta-carotene, and the minerals phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Spirulina is a natural, easily digestible food that aids in protecting the immune system, boosting energy levels, aids in cholesterol reduction and mineral absorption. Some find it beneficial in fasting as it supplies the nutrients needed to cleanse and heal, while also helping to kerb the appetite. People with hypoglycemia may also benefit by using this food supplement between meals, because its high protein content can help to stabilise blood sugar.
How best to take it: Spirulina can be taken in tablet, capsule or powder form. It is one of the most palatable of the three green superfoods looked at here. The powder tastes delicious when mixed into smoothies, and pairs particularly well with frozen berries, natural yoghurt, banana and apple juice.
Chlorella comes from the family of freshwater green algae, and is one of the smallest and simplest living organisms, about the size of a human red blood cell. It’s native to Taiwan and Japan. It’s green colour is due to the large quantities of chlorophyll it contains.
Because it has a high concentration of chlorophyll, it can assist the immune system by purifying and cleansing the digestive tract. Studies have indicated that chlorella has the potential to detoxify environmental poisons such as chlorinated hydrocarbons, and dioxin, and could also be used to help remove heavy metals such as copper, mercury and cadmium. Many people take it to help boost their energy levels. It also helps to enhance digestion, especially if constipation is an issue.
How best to take it: Chlorella has a very strong taste. Some people add it to smoothies, but this is one super green that I recommend you either shot back with a chaser (ie. some berries!) or take in tablet form.
Barley grass is considered to be one of the first foods cultivated on the planet and was apparently eaten by Gladiators to help give them their incredible strength! It’s not surprising when you think that at the time it is harvested to make juice, Barley Grass is about 45 percent protein. Enzyme-rich barley grass delivers vitamins and minerals as nature intended, with all the naturally occurring co-factors and synergistic compounds intact. It’s high in calcium, iron, all the essential amino acids, chlorophyll, flavonoids, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and many other minerals and enzymes. It is an effective anti-inflammatory food and can help to heal stomach duodenal and colon disorders.
How best to take it: Barley grass powder is best taken on an empty stomach. It can be mixed with water or juice (I recommend the latter – it is rather bitter in taste!). If you really can’t stomach the flavour, capsule form would be a good alternative!
Only small amounts of each of these super greens are needed to reap great health rewards. However, as they are all potent natural health supplements, it is recommended that you chat to a health professional at your local health food store or chemist before starting them. They can then help determine the dosages that are best suited to you.