The Power of Green Foods
Meet some of nature’s greatest nutritional superstars.
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
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