The Power of Green Foods

Meet some of nature’s greatest nutritional superstars.


May 2010

by Lisa James

While going green may be the latest environmental trend, it is an idea that stretches back to antiquity in terms of personal health. Traditional medicine practitioners around the world have always turned to green plants for their ability to cleanse, detoxify and heal.

Sadly, many people in our modern age, including many children, are not as well acquainted with green foods as they should be. “Most American children still eat no greens, ever,” says nutrition educator Robyn Openshaw, author of The Green Smoothies Diet (Ulysses Press). That’s a shame; as Openshaw points out, green foods are rich sources of protein, calcium, fiber, chlorophyll and
disease-fighting phytonutrients.

Here are green foods you should include in your diet. Some, such as spinach and the brassicas, are perfectly at home in the kitchen; others, such as chlorella and spirulina, are best obtained as supplements or as ingredients in protein shake mixes. What’s more, there are whole-food supplements that incorporate a wide spectrum of green foods to help fortify a healthy, well-rounded eating plan.

Alfalfa is a member of the pea family mostly grown as cattle forage

NUTRITION NOTES: Alfalfa contains protein, chlorophyll, iron, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus, along with a number of vitamins; long used as a blood purifier and anti-ulcer remedy; acts as a mild laxative and diuretic

 

Seaweed includes many marine plants, including dulse, kelp and rockweed

NUTRITION NOTES: Seaweed contains iodine, a mineral crucial for a healthy thyroid (the body’s master energy controller); it is also rich in protein and minerals

 

Barley Grass is the early vegetative growth phase of a common cereal grain

NUTRITION NOTES: Barley grass contains vitamins B12, C and E, along with minerals
and enzymes; it helps fight inflammation

 

The brassica family include broccoli and its cousins: cabbage, kale, etc.

NUTRITION NOTES: Brassicas contain cancer-fighting substances known as indoles; members of the family provide various nutrients, including vitamins C and K, iron and zinc

 

Chlorella is a single-celled green algae

NUTRITION NOTES: Long used as a blood cleanser, chlorella has been found to help the body break down toxins while boosting immune function

 

Spinach is a common leafy green

NUTRITION NOTES: Best known for its iron content (thanks, Popeye), spinach contains other minerals, vitamins A, C, E and K (along with several B vitamins) and lutein, which supports eye health

 

Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae

NUTRITION NOTES: Spirulina supplies complete protein along with essential fatty acids, beta-carotene, numerous minerals and vitamins B, C, D and E; frequently used as an energy booster

 

Sprouts are seeds, such as chickpeas, rice grains, mung beans and alfalfa,
that have been germinated

NUTRITION NOTES: Sprouts are a rich source of protein (including essential amino acids),
fiber and plant enzymes

Like barley grass, wheat grass is a cereal grain in an early growth phase

NUTRITION NOTES: Wheat grass supplies abundant chlorophyll and is used as a blood tonic

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