When growing up we’ve always been told to eat our greens, now although many of us didn’t want to do that & probably tried to feed them to the family pet instead, there really are good reasons for eating green.
1. Green food contains chlorophyll, this is the pigment in plants that gives them their green leaves. The darker the colour, the more chlorophyll the food contains. Chlorophyll is a great chelating agent, as is the water soluble form, chlorophyllin & can bind various compounds such as mercury, aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) etc and remove them from the body thus preventing the negative effects they would otherwise have.
Green vegetables e.g. brussel sprouts & broccoli sprouts are high in compounds known as glucosinolates which are converted to sulforaphane (SFN). This SFN protects us from certain toxins by inhibiting the production of cytochrome P450 enzymes that activate toxins. Furthermore SFN increases the levels of important antioxidant molecules like Glutathione (GSH) and encourages the Nrf-2 pathway which is involved in antioxidant & anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
Chlorophyll can also aid in a healthy heart as it prevents the oxidation of bad cholesterol known as LDL (low density lipoprotein), this oxidised LDL can lead to inflammation & atherosclerosis.
Another great effect of chlorophyll is that it can prevent the damage induced by free radicals by reducing the amount of radicals in the body.
Green foods such as spirulina, chlorella, kale, nori seaweed etc are great sources of vitamins and minerals, for instance nori is a good source of B12 while spirulina & chlorella contain a few forms of vitamin B12, although not all of it is the type that is use-able by the body a portion of it is. Note
:The B12 content can also greatly vary between chlorella supplements so check the levels in the different brands before you buy. Furthermore, green foods tend to also be high in vitamin A & K1, Vitamin A is great for the skin & eyes and vitamin K1 helps healthy bone formation and clotting when injured. Iodine is a mineral found in high amounts in sea vegetables like seaweeds & is important for a healthy thyroidalthough people who have thyroid issues already should be careful about ingesting lots of these foods before speaking to their doctor.
5. Another green food which is fantastic to incorporate into your diet whenever possible is matcha, this is a type of powdered green tea which is the whole tea leaf ground up meaning that none of the good stuff is lost which is why it has been found that matcha contains more of the beneficial polyphenol EGCG than regular green tea. *Choose Japanese origin to avoid lead contamination*
Now, it’s all well & good to know this stuff but I am aware that most of it doesn’t taste great so getting a lot of the above foods into your diet may be tricky so I’ve given a few suggestions below which I’ve found have helped me consume more of them.
*Tablet forms of chlorella & spirulina are available in health food stores & online which make taking them far easier as you don’t taste anything nasty unless you keep the tablets in your mouth for longer than a minute (but why would you do that unless you lost a bet or something….)
*One of the problems with consuming green veggies is that people often say they’re bland & don’t taste of anything but I think that’s a good thing as they can be hidden in smoothies with sweet fruit e.g.mango and spinach or 1 tspn spirulina and a banana or avocado, grapes & spinach.
* One way I’ve recently found to be successful is to bake with them, as matcha is not heat sensitive it can be incorporated into baking recipes such as brownies or cakes without losing its beneficial compounds. Also, kale chips made by massaging some oil into the leave with a little sprinkling of salt followed by dehydration in an oven at 100°C for about 80/90 minutes works a treat.
I have also baked banana spinach muffins that do look a little weird due to their green hue however the banana completely masks any taste and they’re great for converting those not so healthy people who immediately judge anything green as disgusting but soon won’t once they taste these! Basically follow a recipe that you would use for a banana bread but omit the butter, add in the spinach and put into bun cases.