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TGIN Says “Eat Your Vegetables” — Health Benefits of Green Foods

By June 5, 2012health + fitness

We all remember growing up and having mom beg us to eat our broccoli, but eating green is more important now that ever before. With the growing number of free radicals that enter our bodies daily and the rising stress levels, maintaining our diets are critical in the battle to stay healthy.

When I did my detox this past year, I learned a great deal about the power of greens. Not only do greens have major nutritional and health benefits, but they have also been shown to support most bodily functions, boost energy levels, and eliminate toxins such as heavy metals, which can weaken our tissues and lead to disease over time. Aesthetically, green foods also help to improve the appearance and health of our skin, hair and nails. Some research even suggests that green foods can even delay the natural effects of aging.

If you’re not eating a healthy amount of greens everyday, then you need to take it up a notch. I drink a green smoothie every morning and eat at least one salad a day to make sure I’m getting my greens in. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a great article that I came across in Whole Living about why you should be eating green.

Go For Green: Detoxing Superfoods

What is it about green foods that make them so complementary to your diet and health? They’re superfoods—calorie-sparse and phytonutrient-dense, they feature lots of antioxidants and nutrients essential to the body.

You may find green foods already in your fridge—they include vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach. What you may not know is that green foods also include grasses (barley, wheat, and alfalfa) andalgae (chlorella, spirulina, and blue-green). Adding them regularly into your meals not only gives your plate a nice dash of color, they also have many health benefits, including:

They’re antioxidant-rich: Crucial for reducing oxidative stress in the body, which can otherwise lead to cellular damage, cell death and cancer.

• They help detox: The chlorophyll content of green foods aids in ridding the body of environmental toxins, including heavy metals, smog, herbicides and pesticides.

• They’re alkalinizing: The standard American diet lends itself to an acidic pH, which can lead to serious health problems (e.g. fatigue, decreased immunity, inflammation, osteoporosis, premature aging, and problems with enzyme functions).

• They’re immune-boosting: The abundance of phytonutrients (vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, flavonoids, lignans, etc.) assist in enhanced performance of the immune system.

• They provide energy and endurance: Enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and chlorophyll are some of the compounds that help provide energy.

• They’re anti-carcinogenic: There are many ways in which the phytonutrients aid in protection from cancer cells; their antioxidant properties, their rich folate content, and their isothiocyanates (ITCs) are a few.

• They offer digestive benefits: They’re abundant in fiber and plant-based digestive enzymes.

In a perfect world we would eat greens with most meals on a daily basis. While this may be a reality for a very limited number of people, it has been said that the majority of Americans should be eating 200-300 times the amount of green foods that they currently do! When diet alone won’t cut it, there are more convenient ways to get your daily greens. Here are some of my favorite greens supplements:

• Health Force Vitamineral Greens: supports blood sugar, detoxification, the immune system, liver, kidneys, blood, bones, colon, regularity, circulation, and longevity with ingredients including barley, parsley, alfalfa and dandelion juices, tulsi tea, spirulina, chlorella, kelp, bladderwrack, plant enzymes and 26 strains of probiotics.

• Vibrant Health Green Vibrance: With 60 ingredients, Green Vibrance supports digestion, cardiovascular health, bone structure, neurological health, endurance, blood-sugar balance, etc.

• Chloroxygen: Derived from English Stinging Nettle, this product infuses the body with chlorophyll, building red blood cells and thereby increasing oxygen in the body.

• New Chapter Berry Green: Combines 20 organic berries, vegetables, grains and herbs with “live active culture” probiotics.

• Sunny Green Ocean Green: A blend of mixed marine algae.

• Paradise Herbs Protein and Greens: This is a great product that combines a plethora of greens with 22 grams of pea protein.

One thing to consider when shopping for your green foods supplements: Make sure the supplement has a high ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance scoring). ORAC is essentially a method of measuring antioxidant capacities, so the higher the ORAC score, the higher the antioxidant content. (Look for the ORAC score on the label, or at Happy greening!

Kate Brainard, is a naturopathic doctor based in San Diego, California. A graduate of Bastyr University’s doctorate program in Naturopathic Medicine, she works for Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, a holistic pharmacy staffed with expert practitioners. She currently manages the Pharmaca in La Jolla and spends time educating customers on supplements, health and lifestyle choices.