Popeye would be proud. Not only have we embraced his beloved spinach, but we've found dozens of other green foods that help us deal with the Blutos in our lives. Some greens, such as wheat grass, have been popular for decades, while others, such as moringa, are relative newcomers, but all are concentrated food sources that can help overcome a lack of those dark leafy greens we keep hearing about.
Choosing green supplements is much like deciding what to order for dinner-a personal preference-but on this menu, everything is chock-full of nutrients, is almost calorie-free, and leaves you feeling better than before you ate. In today's world, that sounds like the perfect dish.
Chlorophyll Health Benefits
Although grasses, sea vegetables, algae, and other greens each have unique characteristics, they obviously share one: their color. It comes from chlorophyll, which harnesses energy from the sun, helps transform plants into life-giving nutritional powerhouses, and enables them to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.
For humans, chlorophyll is one major reason why eating dark leafy greens is so beneficial. It is thought that, as a supplement or in concentrated food sources, chlorophyll helps promote healthy blood and a healthy colon, and enhances the body's ability to eliminate toxins. It can also help normalize the overall acid-alkaline balance in your system, which can unblock the road to weight loss and help prevent virtually any ailment.
5 Green Superfoods
Naturally concentrated, whole-food versions of green vegetables we are familiar with, such as spinach and broccoli, are often found in green formulas, but others are less likely to be on our plates.
A type of algae, chlorella contains high concentrations of chlorophyll and fiber, and together, these help eliminate heavy metals such as mercury and other metals from the body. In one study, people who took 4 grams daily experienced improvements in cholesterol and blood sugar, and lost some body fat. Another study found improved immunity.
Another type of algae, spirulina calms inflammation and contains antioxidants. Multiple studies found that taking 1-8 grams daily improved cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure. Other research found that 3 grams daily improved immune function among older people suffering from anemia.
Also a type of algae, kelp is the richest natural source of iodine, necessary for a healthy thyroid and metabolism. In addition, it is a natural diuretic, which helps eliminate excess water and toxins. And, its combination of vitamins and minerals is considered especially nutritive for nails and hair.
This green comes from leaves of the moringa tree, native to parts of Asia, Central and South America, Africa, and Australia. Considered a medicinal plant for 5,000 years in India, it has been available in North America for only a few years. Moringa can improve levels of blood sugar and cholesterol, fights inflammation and infection, and is good for the liver.
Shots of wheat grass juice have been a popular health elixir for decades, but back in the Depression, dried, powdered wheat grass was used to feed livestock and people, and it enhanced the health of both. Either way, wheat grass delivers concentrated chlorophyll. Other popular grasses include barley, alfalfa, oat, and kamut grasses. Green powders may be made from juices of grasses or the grasses themselves.
Green Foods and Weight Loss
A Swedish study, published in the journal Appetite, found that an extract from spinach leaves (Appethyl), when taken before breakfast, reduced cravings and enhanced weight loss. The researchers believe that the supplement slowed down digestion, allowing more time for the release of hormones that signal we've eaten enough.
Green Food Formulas
Greens come in many different formulas; some are also available as single ingredients, such as wheat grass, chlorella, spirulina, moringa, and kelp. Here are some options:
- Powders for easy mixing in smoothies, water, or juice, in bottles or tubs for everyday use.
- Pills or single-serve packets, convenient for travel, on the go, or to keep in your desk drawer for an afternoon pick-me-up.
- Formulas designed for specific needs, such as energy, cleansing, or sports performance and recovery.
- Combinations of greens alone or with other ingredients such as enzymes, probiotics, or prebiotics (food for beneficial gut bacteria) to enhance digestion and immunity; vitamins and minerals (to serve as a multi); or herbs for different needs.
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