You know the basics. All green foods are rich in chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants-and they increase the body's alkaline balance. Beyond that, each green has its own unique set of characteristics.
Here's a quick rundown of our favorites.
1. Wheat Grass
Wheat grass, one of the original super greens, is rich in superoxide dismutase (SOD), a powerful antioxidant produced by the body that's especially protective of blood vessels and heart health. It's also high in minerals, amino acids, and vitamins, especially vitamins A, C, and K. Studies show that wheat grass can treat ulcerative colitis and promote detoxification from bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic compound found in consumer products such as plastic water bottles. Don't be fooled by the name-most people with gluten sensitivities can tolerate wheat grass since it doesn't contain gluten.
2. Barley Grass
Barley grass has a nutrient profile that's very similar to wheat grass. Like wheat grass, it contains SOD; it's also high in iron, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In one study, barley grass significantly reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels. In another study, 1.2 grams of barley grass capsules per day improved the health of people with diabetes.
Alfalfa is especially high in minerals and trace minerals. Plus it contains coumarin, an anti-platelet substance that can help prevent blood clots and improve circulation. Alfalfa also contains phytoestrogens and may help decrease hot flashes and reduce menopausal discomfort. Note: If you have lupus or another autoimmune disorder, be careful about using alfalfa seeds, since they can worsen these conditions. Check with your health care provider first.
Chlorella, a member of the blue-green algae family, is a single-celled organism that's an estimated 4 billion years old. It's rich in protein and vitamins, especially vitamins A and B. Chlorella is considered the most alkaline of all the greens, and contains an exceptionally high concentration of chlorophyll. Several studies have suggested that chlorella can support immune function, protect against cancer and inflammation, boost energy and stamina, and treat fibromyalgia, hypertension, and ulcerative colitis.
Spirulina, also a single-celled member of the blue-green algae family, contains up to 70 percent protein by weight, with a complete amino acid profile. It's rich in B vitamins, especially B12, plus iodine, minerals, and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)-a fatty acid that boosts brain and heart health and protects joints. Studies show that spirulina can help protect against neurodegenerative disorders, improve exercise performance and fat oxidation, strengthen immunity, increase the body's concentration of the antioxidant glutathione, boost energy, and help treat patients with HIV/AIDS. Spirulina is also regarded as a skin-enhancing supplement-many women swear it gives skin a healthy glow.
Matcha, a relative newcomer to the green foods scene, is a very finely powdered green tea. Matcha is rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant. Studies have also shown that green tea has antiatherosclerotic, antibacterial, anticancer, antidiabetic, antiobesity, and antiviral effects.
Try our Super Green Food Smoothie!
Green Food Powders
Barlean'sChocolate Silk Greens and Superfruit Greens Barlean's adds two new yummy flavors to their Greens line. Each is loaded with superfoods and nutrients, including spirulina and green tea.
Greens Plus Organics Organic Superfood The single-serving sticks with organic green foods, superfruits, sea vegetables, and probiotics, make it easy to get a daily dose of greens.
Greens World Delicious Greens 8000 The "8000" stands for a whopping 8000 ORAC (antioxidant capacity) units per scoop. The powder is vegan and has
no sugar added.