Greens From Plant Food Sources
Green – it’s the color of life and growth. Just think of a scene of nature – for example, rolling grasslands in the wind, a forest on a sunlit afternoon with sunlight filtering through the leaves or the lush vibrancy of a tropical rainforest. Now think of the frigid, lifeless landscapes of a frozen polar wasteland, an arid desert of rock and scorching heat, or the sterile barrenness of an expanse of urban concrete. What color are the places that are full of thriving life? Green. In hot and cold climates alike, green is the color of hope: in the desert, green shows that life giving water is available, while in cold, temperate climates, green is the color of spring and summer when food is abundant (this is why the traditional vegetation used as Christmas decorations were chosen – as they remained green during the depths of winter, they were symbols of hope and eternal life).
Green is only found in plant food sources (if meat is green, it’s rotten – don’t touch it!). The green is produced by chlorophyll, which is the catalyst that allows plants to extract energy from sunlight and turn it into carbohydrates, proteins and sugars. It is the presence or absence of chlorophyll or chlorophyll producing mechanisms that helps biologists classify one-celled organisms as either plants or animals. By the color, it’s easy to tell that the algae spirulina and chlorella that are often used in dietary supplements are plants!
Benefits of chlorophyll
Some people may ask why humans need to include chlorophyll in their diet seeing as we don’t need to get any nutrients from the sunlight (which, in fact, you do – sunlight is one of the primary sources of Vitamin D, with fish oil being the other). Chlorophyll has a range of benefits for the human body. Not only is it a source of the dietary mineral magnesium, it also assists in the uptake of trace elements and minerals into the system and it is an antioxidant. And on a more aesthetic level, chlorophyll also helps reduce body odor and bad breath – an old remedy for “garlic breath” is to chew a sprig of parsley to let the chlorophyll work as a breath freshener (in case you’re wondering, garlic supplements are usually designed to reduce the occurrence of the notorious “garlic breath” – or should that be “dragon breath”?). Chlorophyll also is very important to detoxification and cleansing the blood and body from impurities.
Other benefits of greens
Greens are considered to be a superfood. The deep green color also indicates that a food source is rich in the phytonutrient beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a “provitamin” that breaks down during digestion to Vitamin A, as well as being an important cancer-fighter.
Eat your greens
The phrase “eat your greens” is one that many of us recall from childhood with a shudder, as it brings up memories of staring at a plate of boiled-to-death broccoli or Brussels sprouts. In many ways, this is a pity, as these experiences have put many people off eating fresh vegetables (not that soggy overcooked vegetables contained an awful lot of nutrients, anyway – the vitamins would have all been leached out into the water and destroyed by heat).
The new “greens” that are a growing area in the world of nutritional supplements and health foods are a different thing altogether. As they come in powder (concentrate) or capsule form, they are a quick and easy way to make sure that you get the goodness and health benefits of chlorophyll in today’s hectic pace of life. You haven’t got time to select, wash and slice up vegetables for a salad? Then try using Greens in a shake – try greens and whey for a quick meal replacement that contains protein as well as greens.
What is in Greens?
Greens contain a variety of plant foods in concentrated form. Spirulina and chlorella are very important in greens dietary supplements, but other important plants specially selected to make a premium health food are the cereal grasses, including kamut (a special strain of wheat grass that has been bred and harvested for the health food market; as it is a registered trademark, all kamut wheat is organic), alfalfa, barley and oats.
Greens are sometimes combined with other natural ingredients, such as soy protein, for added benefits.