Texas goes green – super green foods are becoming increasingly popular among the health conscious

Green foods have recently become a focus of modern natural health practices in Texas and the United States. Juice bars and health food markets in Austin, Dallas and Houston offer spirulina smoothies, chlorella vegetable juices and wheatgrass power shots. Naturopaths have been known to prescribe super green foods to help treat illnesses ranging from asthma to HIV and lupus. While the incredibly rich mossy color of these supplements doesn’t always look appealing, most of us think, “Well, it’s probably good for me anyway.” But how good it is can be surprising. Better yet, you don’t even need health insurance to cover it.

One pound of wheatgrass is the nutritional equivalent of twenty-five pounds of quality vegetables. Blue-green algae, such as spirulina, are not only high in vitamins and minerals, but pound for pound more protein than meat or soybeans, and in lab tests have proven to play an important role in increasing the survival rate of cancer-infected mice . Alfalfa, a common ingredient in animal feed, actually contains all known vitamins. Usually only a teaspoon or tablespoon is needed to get nutritional benefit, and in fact we are just beginning to understand the health benefits of these superfoods.

While consuming these power greens can make our health care providers and spouses happy, most of us struggle enough just to pronounce their names. It can be a little confusing trying to figure out which green foods do what. To make life a little easier, here’s a basic rundown of some of the most popular super green foods, which can be easily found in the supplement section of every major natural health food market in Texas:

(1) Alfalfa

Some would argue that alfalfa, while a green food, is not a “super green food.” Many practitioners disagree. Commonly fed to cattle and horses throughout Texas, this well-known, seemingly common grass is one of the most mineral-rich foods in the world. The roots can grow as deep as 40 meters and, in addition to all known vitamins, contain chlorophyll (considered highly nutritious when processed properly), calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. The minerals are present in a balanced form, which ensures maximum absorption.

Alfalfa is available in liquid, capsule, tablet, powder and of course as the plant itself. It has been used to treat illnesses ranging from arthritis to anemia, to bleeding gums, to cancer, and, like all other green foods, is still being studied to discover the extent of its healing properties.

(2) Barley grass

With iron, all essential amino acids, chlorophyll, flavonoids, vitamin B12, vitamin C, minerals and enzymes, barley grass is also an often overlooked green food. It is highly nutritious, used to treat stomach and intestinal disorders and acts as an effective anti-inflammatory.

(3) Chlorella

Chlorella, one of the few edible species of water-grown algae, is virtually a complete food in its own right. Its massive amounts of chlorophyll and protein relative to its size make it a powerhouse for those deprived of protein, as well as a storehouse of nutrition, with high levels of all B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, amino acids and rare trace minerals.

Chlorella provides more B12 than liver per serving and accelerates the cleansing of the bloodstream. The high RNA and DNA content are also believed to be agents in fighting the effects of ultraviolet radiation. However, a good chlorella source must be factory processed, as the tough cell wall makes it difficult for the body to access the nutrients.

(4) Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll, while available in many forms as a separate nutrient, is also listed as a potent component in many green foods. At first this may seem strange. After all, most in Texas and in the United States have learned that chlorophyll is a plant food bound in a hard cell wall and of little use to humans. And while it’s true that chlorophyll usually needs to be processed to be more easily accessible to our bodies, research reports major benefits when consumed properly.

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A better understanding of the cell structure itself has shed light on the situation. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells, the central metal atom of which is iron. The main and fairly simple difference between a molecule of hemoglobin and a molecule of chlorophyll is that the central metal atom of chlorophyll is magnesium instead. In fact, the two may be so similar that they may one day warrant treatments for certain types of anemia with chlorophyll; experiments on anemic animals reported a return to normal iron levels after four or five days of chlorophyll treatment.

(5) Kelp

Kelp is perhaps a bit more famous than other green foods, as it is a seaweed that is common in Asian cuisine and is actually often used in toothpastes. It can be eaten raw, dried, granulated or ground into a powder. Kelp in granular or powdered form is a tasty flavoring agent and can be used as a salt substitute.

Like all green foods, kelp is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. It is especially useful because of its high B vitamins and iodine content and has therefore been used to treat certain thyroid conditions – possibly a major contributing factor to the obesity epidemic in Dallas, Houston and many other Texas regions. Kelp is also thought to be beneficial for brain tissues and their surrounding membranes, the sensory nerves, spinal cord tissue, nails and blood vessels.

Iodine tablets are often given to people in high-risk jobs involving radiation to help protect against its effects in the event of an accident. Kelp is also believed to somewhat counteract the effects of radiation, probably due to its high iodine content.

(6) Spirulina

Spirulina, one of the first microalgae to gain public recognition, is considered by many to be a panacea. This is one of the most popular green nutritional supplements in Texas and in the United States. With a protein content of 60-70%, it produces twenty times more protein than soybeans on an equal piece of land, and is unmatched by any single grain, herb or plant for its high nutrient content. Key nutrients include gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), linoleic and arachidonic acids, vitamin B12, essential amino acids, nucleic acids RNA and DNA, chlorophyll and phycocyanin – a blue pigment found only in blue-green algae and proven to increase the survival rate of laboratory mice with certain types of cancer.

Research is ongoing, but many practitioners claim it has the power to boost the immune system, lower cholesterol, and aid in mineral absorption. With its high protein and nutrient content, spirulina is especially helpful for people with hypoglycemia and fasting people. The superfood has been used to help treat cancer and HIV, as well as many other serious illnesses that affect nutrient absorption and the immune system.

(7) Wheatgrass

By its name, wheatgrass sounds a bit like a genetically modified new addition to the ever-expanding schedule of biological experiments, but in fact it’s nothing of the sort. Popularized by Dr. Ann Wigmore, founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute, wheatgrass is a growing international phenomenon, with its wide variety of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Doctors like Wigmore have been promoting wheatgrass for over a decade and most would indeed claim a definite energy boost after a single serving. It has been used as an important component of therapies used to treat a variety of diseases, including cancer, immunological disorders and mental health problems. Overall it’s just a great supplement for anyone, providing a healthy dose of much needed vitamins and a kick of natural energy. Who needs coffee?

Green foods of any kind — be it kale, broccoli, or arugula — are highly nutritious, highly beneficial, and do nothing but good things for your body. But this new era of super green food discovery could make nutrition on the go much easier for super busy Americans, who have little time to cook and prepare the nutritious meals we crave. The best recommendation is to start slowly. Blend a teaspoon of powdered supergreens into a big, thick, sweet smoothie. This will help you get used to the taste while getting that power punch of vitamins. Or, like so many, just shoot. Ask for a single serving of freshly squeezed wheatgrass at your local juice bar, toss it down your esophagus and see what an energy kick you get for the day. After all, your nutrition is in your hands, and maybe it’s just a teaspoon away.

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