Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Green 'Superfoods'

It seems a lot of us get confused when it comes to green superfoods, as we hear more and more about them and their importance in our diet. I decided to make a list and provide some detail in my own words. Lets break it down!

In a general sense, superfoods are those found in nature and are nutrient dense; meaning they hold tons more vitamins and minerals (better for you) than the average veggie. They are a great source of anti-oxidants and essential nutrients that the body cannot make on its own, but need in order to reach optimal health.

Green superfoods are the easiest to digest, they contain fat burning compounds and protect and heal the body against disease and illness. They also include proteins and good bacteria for the muscles and tissue while acting as an aid to the digestion system (meaning anything else you eat will be digested much easier, thanks to its natural enzymes!). Green superfoods contain large amounts of chlorophyll (remember sixth grade science?); chlorophyll makes plants green. The structure of chlorophyll is much like the human blood, so when we take it in the making of hemoglobin (protein molecule in our blood cells, carries oxygen from the lungs to our tissue then carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs) increases, meaning much more oxygen in the blood!

Here is a list of green superfoods and a bit more about them individually:  

Wheat grass: Wheat grass is very mainstream nowadays, but it is important you get the right kind (I'll be posting brand recommendations soon!) Wheat grass is sprouted grass of wheat seed that does not contain gluten or allergic proxies because it has been sprouted (much like why I suggest soaking grains, like those in 'Pretty Porridge'). Wheat grass is alkalizing (balances pH levels), helps improve blood, aids the thyroid gland (metabolism function assists digestion and weight loss) because of its enzyme content and ability to cleanse the body.

Barley grassBarley grass can help counterbalance heavy metals (like mercury) in the blood stream; mercury is a common concern now a days, tuna carries a lot of it (try to buy 'low mercury tuna,' especially in the can--a lot of companies will note if they are low mercury on the label). Amazingly enough, barley grass has way more calcium than cow’s milk (about 11 times the amount), five times more iron than spinach and seven times more vitamin C than orange juice. It also contains a large amount of vitamin B12 (vegetarians, you need lots of this!), which has the ability to increase energy. 

Wild blue-green algaeWild blue-green algae is a phyto-plankton and contains tons and tons and tons of nutrients. It has a much more comprehensive amino acid profile than beef or soy beans and is 60% protein! Amino acids help promote brain function so needless to say, wild blue-green algae can up the brain function and memory while improving the immune system with its mass amounts of vitamin B and beta carotene (not just found in carrots)!

Spirulina: Much like wheat grass, spirulina is becoming much more mainstream and people are starting to hear about it and ask questions (its been consumed for thousands of years by the indigenous people in Mex. and Africa). So, what is it exactly? Well, obviously a superfood, but aside from that it is a protein! It contains 70% complete protein (steak only consists of 25% once its been cooked). I’m sure you’ve heard that protein helps cut cravings--welp, guess what? Spirulina does just that, as it helps to control blood sugar levels. It’s a great tool for those with diabetes and anyone looking to tone up and shed a few pounds.

Chlorella: I hate the sound of this! Sounds mean. Chlorella is a fresh water algae that too is very high in protein, contains all the B, C and E vitamins and lots of minerals (talk about beauty!). It also helps to reduce cholesterol, preventing heart attacks, stokes and the hardening of arteries (this doesn’t just happen to "old" people anymore, so don't be fooled).

What about green leafy vegetables? They are not necessarily considered 'superfoods,' however much better for you than the average veggie. Green leafy vegetables are everywhere and easy to grab but lots of people don’t eat them. I agree, they are a bit intimidating but I will continue to share some recipes that will hopefully make them much more tempting to try! It is super important we incorporate green leafy veggies for tons of reasons, beauty, health, energy and especially so we can eat and drink however we want from time to time without it taking such a toll on our bodies! A few of my favorites are spinach, kale, swiss chard, arugula, watercress, collard greens, brussel sprouts (eh, sort of considered a 'leafy' veggie!) and dandelion greens. 

I'll let all that sink in before I go on--ha! Check back soon for brand recommendations and how to get your daily dose of 'superfoods!' xo