Believe it or not, there are greens that are even better for you than spinach and kale. Called “super greens,” these nutritional powerhouses put other veggies to shame with their wide array of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting properties.
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The term “super greens” is used to describe a few varieties of extra-healthy algae and cereal grasses; spirulina, chlorella, wheat grass, barley grass, and alfalfa. While they aren’t exactly easy to find at your local grocery store, health food stores often carry them and you can take many of them powdered or as pills. They may be tricky to track down, but the nutritional benefits are well worth it.
Vitamins, Minerals, And Nutrients
What makes a super green? Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients – and lots of them. Spirulina, for instance, is rich in B-vitamins, amino acid, vitamin E, iron, and essential fatty acids, and its cousin chlorella provides a similarly rich array of nutrients along with heart-healthy omega-3s.
Wheat grass and barley grass give you amino acids, iron, and vitamin E as well, together with magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A and C.
All super greens have amazingly high levels of chlorophyll, which does a whole lot more than make plants green. One tested effect of chlorophyll: it reduces your risk of cancer.
Not only do the molecules in chlorophyll bond to cancerous cells and make them more likely to become benign, but chlorophyll contains an antioxidant that is particularly good at breaking down the free radicals caused by radiation and chemical carcinogens, which, in addition to the usual aging damage of free radicals, can cause cancer.
Tests have shown it to be especially effective in fighting chemicals that can cause liver cancer and colon cancer cells actually shrink after being treated with chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll isn’t the only cancer fighter that you can find in super greens. They’re also high in carotenoids, a type of vitamin A that cuts your risk of lung and prostate cancer.
In addition to chlorophyll, super greens provide you with significant levels of phytochemicals. These are antioxidant chemicals that some scientists believe are the very reason fruits and veggies are so good for you.
Consumption of a group of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are high in all super greens but especially in spirulina, may even be the reason why people live longer in some first-world countries than in others.
Think of those studies where Japanese green tea drinkers outlive American coffee drinkers (ibid). The antioxidants devour free radicals that break down your chromosomes, cells, and DNA, helping your body fight off the effects of aging.
Heart Attack And Stroke Protection
Those antioxidants team up with the chlorophyll to fight off many, many more diseases than cancer. The flavonoids in super greens have been proven to help regenerate damaged blood cells and break up blood clots, reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke. Flavonoids also fight inflammation, which can reduce your risk of arthritis (ibid).
You’ve heard that eating carrots is good for your eyes, but you probably haven’t heard that eating algae will do the trick as well! The carotenoids in super greens, just like the beta-carotene that makes carrots so good for you, can protect your eyes from macular degeneration, the aging of your retina that eventually causes blindness.
Macular degeneration has no cure, but the good news is that it can be slowed, and super greens can help protect your eyes from harm. Carotenoids also reduce your risk of cataracts, making them an ophthalmologist’s dream come true.