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Become a Lean, Green Machine

Green foods are all-in-one nutritional powerhouses and an easy way to get your veggie quota

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Chlorella helps boost weight loss, reduce cholesterol, and control insulin signaling, according to a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food.

When you think of “green power,” solar panels or windmills might come to mind. But think of green foods as green power for your body. These superfoods are superconcentrated sources of nutrition, including omega-3s, fiber, trace minerals, and free-radical scavengers. These algaes and grasses, collectively called green foods, can give you incredible energy, fend off disease, and even accelerate weight loss. Here’s a look at two of these powerful greens:

What it is: A microscopic, spiral-shaped blue-green algae found in the sea and warm, alkaline bodies of freshwater. Spirulina is loaded with essential fatty acids (it’s an ideal source of omega-3s for vegetarians); B vitamins; vitamins C, D, and E; and minerals, including potassium, iron, calcium, and zinc. “Spirulina is the richest nutrient and complete food source found in the world,” says Tom Hess, marketing and education director of New Leaf Naturals. “It contains over 100 nutrients, more than any other plant, grain, or herb, and is 60 to 63 percent protein.”

Chief health benefits: In human studies, spirulina has been shown to be effective against allergies, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, enhance immunity, protect against cancer, and benefit anemia. Additionally, it enhances energy. “Spirulina, being naturally green, contains a large amount of chlorophyll,” says Hess. “Chlorophyll absorbs the energy from sunlight to create carbohydrates to boost your energy through the day.”

What it is: Chlorella, a unique single-celled freshwater green algae, is an energy powerhouse made up of more than 60 percent pure protein by weight. It’s also rich in essential amino acids. “Chlorella contains 18 of 22 known amino acids and is considered a complete protein, meaning that it has the eight essential amino acids,” Hess says.”It contains RNA and DNA-the nucleic acids governing cell growth, reproduction, and repair-at a level 17 times higher than the sardine, the previous ‘king’ of high RNA/DNA foods.” Plus, chlorella is high in fiber and vitamins and minerals (including lutein and vitamin D), known to protect against cancer.

Chief health benefits: Chlorella improves vascular function; lowers cholesterol and blood pressure; assists in muscle building, energy production, and weight loss; has antitumor properties; enhances immunity; and helps heal ulcers. “Chlorella may be the perfect antidote to our refined foods, nutrient-poor diets, and toxic environment,” adds Hess. “It is, in effect, a superefficient ‘living factory’ that produces within itself an amazing abundance of all-important nutrients.” And because chlorella is a pure, whole food, its nutrients are in the form and balance that the body needs.

Learn about the health benefits of wheat, barley, and alfalfa grasses; and get tips, smoothie recipes, and more product recommendations at

Product Examples: (from left)

Wakunaga Kyo-green powdered energy drink contains a full range of green nutrients, including barley and wheat grasses, brown rice, chlorella, and kelp. Mix with water, juice, or in a smoothie, for an instant energy boost.
Vibrant Health Green Vibrance delivers virtually all known nutrients, with five organic cereal grasses, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli sprouts, vegetables, spirulina, and chlorella.
Barlean’s Greens provides over 7,000 milligrams of green superfoods per serving.
Paradise Herbs ORAC-Energy Greens provides over 12,000 ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), the equivalent of 24 servings of fruits and vegetables.