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It's Easy Being Green

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When your mother told you to eat your greens, she was referring to nutrient-packed vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and peas

When your mother told you to eat your greens, she was referring to nutrient-packed vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and peas. But today there’s a whole new generation of green foods to choose from. These “new” greens are not only served on a plate but are also available at health food stores.

Wheatgrass

Researchers agree that wheatgrass—the delicate, immature wheat plant before it produces seeds—is so high in chlorophyll that it is the top green food for purifying the blood. This super supplement came out of obscurity thanks to the stellar track record of the late Ann Wigmore, who opened the first wholistic health centre in the United States and restored the health of thousands of sick and energy-drained people with wheatgrass. Today it is found on the nutrition shelves of health-conscious people everywhere. Authorities agree that even people allergic to wheat can ingest wheatgrass and not suffer any ill effects. That’s because wheatgrass does not contain the gluten of wheat grain (gluten is the common allergen in wheat).

Barley Grass

Like wheatgrass, young barley grass seems to be headed for the nutrition “hall of fame.” It’s a source of amino acids, enzymes, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, beta-carotene, B vitamins, vitamins C and E, selenium, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and a newly discovered antioxidant, “2-O-GIV.” Dr. Yoshihide Hagiwara, author of Green Barley Essence, discovered in an in-vitro experiment that barley grass added to damaged body cells quickly helped to repair their DNA, enhancing the cells’ ability to prevent cancer and delay aging. Research also indicates that green barley grass may be beneficial for asthma, obesity, skin, anemia, arthritis, digestive problems, diabetes, heart disease and hepatitis.

Alfalfa

The roots of alfalfa often probe three to seven metres deep in the soil to absorb a wealth of key nutrients and moisture. It is also very rich in chlorophyll. In their Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Michael Murray, ND, and Joseph Pizzorno, ND, write of scientists who have discovered that alfalfa not only reduces cholesterol levels but also reduces atherosclerotic plaque. In one study, alfalfa in the diet of monkeys dissolved plaque formed by a high intake of cholesterol-rich foods. Daniel B. Mowrey, PhD, states in his book Herbal Tonic Therapies that alfalfa brings many health benefits because “it is a kidney tonic, a liver tonic, a superlative restorative tonic, a digestive tonic, a prostatic tonic, reproductive tonic [and] a musculoskeletal and glandular tonic.”

Chlorella

On this polluted planet, it is comforting to know that the green supplement chlorella exists. A single-cell, fresh-water algae and a green treasury of chlorophyll, chlorella is an all-purpose cleanser. According to the 1998 book, Dr. Atkins’Vita-Nutrient Solution, it can rid the body of such toxins as cadmium (present in tobacco smoke), smog and even uranium. Rich in B-complex vitamins, chlorella contains more pantothenic acid (an anti-stress B vitamin) than any other natural source. It also boasts magnesium and other trace minerals. Third World countries use it as a cost-effective substitute for meat due to its high protein content. More good news about chlorella: It enhances the growth of friendly bacteria in the colon, promoting the healing of ulcers there. Crohn’s disease and diverticulosis also improve when chlorella is taken regularly. It also strengthens the immune system and boosts production of body-protecting interferon.

Spirulina

This spiral-shaped, blue-green, freshwater algae gets its colour from chlorophyll (green) and phycocyanidins (blue) and is typically grown in man-made ponds. Nutrient-dense, it is a particularly rich source of protein and one of the few plant sources of vitamin B12 (difficult to get in a vegetarian diet). It is also a good source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and important antioxidants. Research shows that spirulina has an effect on the entire body, especially immune function. A 1988 animal study showed that spirulina may also help to suppress tumour development. Other research has shown that it possesses antiviral properties, particularly in relation to herpes simplex virus type I.

Blue-Green Algae (AFA)

AFA, which stands for Aphanizomenon flos aquae, is called blue-green algae because of its colour. It’s usually harvested from natural sources. In addition to containing 22 amino acids and a full spectrum of naturally chelated (organically bound) minerals, AFA is rich in beta-carotene and most of the B-complex vitamins, including B12. Studies have shown that consumption of AFA may help to prevent the development of cancer and viral infections. It also promotes physical endurance and brain cell health.

These six super-greens are available as single supplements or often all together in one product. So even if you balk at eating more veggies, you can still get your greens.

Chlorophyll

A critically important component in green foods, chlorophyll is known as the lifeblood of all plants and is very similar in molecular structure to the hemoglobin of human blood. In Herbal Tonic Therapies, Mowrey cites research indicating that chlorophyll extracts from plants may stimulate the growth of new skin tissue in wounds. In one study, 1,372 cases of experimentally induced wounds and burns were treated topically by 17 different ointments. Only the chlorophyll preparation showed consistently significant results.

Chlorophyll-rich green foods are also known to remove toxins and purify the blood in humans, and are potent healers in the treatment of cancer, AIDS, digestive disorders and more. They are also powerful protectors from disease and are among the best supplements you can take for boosting energy levels.

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