Green is the color of healthy plants, new growth and healing. Although green foods come from a wide variety of plants grown on both land and in water, they all have seriously high nutrient levels squeezed into a ridiculously small space. This means that they give you more bang for your buck in boosting the quality of your diet.
The green foods category includes the microalgaes spirulina, chlorella and Klamath Lake blue-green algae, as well as such cereal grasses as barley grass and wheat grass. In general, green foods appear to have antioxidant, immune-boosting and detoxifying benefits. But, there are special perks to each that make them distinctive. Here’s a look:
Spirulina: Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, this blue-green algae has been used as a food supplement for more than 20 years. Spirulina grows naturally in lakes with extremely high pH levels, but it is also harvested from large-scale commercial ponds, where purity is monitored before it is dried and distributed in tablet and powder form. Studies have found that spirulina protects against allergies, boosts immunity and promotes healthy cholesterol levels. Many users believe it contributes to weight loss by suppressing appetite.
Chlorella: This microalgae has the highest chlorophyll level of any of the green foods. It is known in alternative-medicine circles for its detoxifying effect, especially when it comes to getting heavy metals out of the body (although this is unsupported by animal studies). One small double-blind study found that chlorella may be helpful for treating fibromyalgia. Weaker evidence hints that it might lower high blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, speed the healing of wounds and enhance immunity.
Barley grass: Barley grass has shown promise for lowering cholesterol levels and reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease. These possible benefits were seen in diabetics, people with high cholesterol levels, smokers and nonsmokers.
Wheat grass: Wheat grass proponents have noted improvements to various digestive ailments from the use of wheat grass juice, as well as for purifying the blood and detoxifying the liver.
Green foods generally taste “grassy,” and we’re not going to lie, many people find their taste to be a little strong. Perhaps the most palatable way to get your greens is by using them in smoothies, which make for excellent on-the-go breakfasts you can take with you to work.
1 1/2 bananas, frozen
1/2 cup strawberries, frozen
3/4 cup soy milk, vanilla (substitute with almond milk if preferred)
1/4 cup coconut water
1/2 to 1 teaspoon spirulina powder or your favorite green food powder
Dash of cayenne for a spicy kick (optional)
Blend until smooth. Add a splash more liquid if needed to blend. Serves 1–2.