Stating that a good diet is key to better health is, well quite frankly, a no brainer.
Everyday we’re pummelled with information regarding what we should, and shouldn’t eat, and whilst it’s easy to make sensible choices regarding our food, what about those amongst us who want to source the highest quality of nourishment available?
For an all conquering and powerful nutrient kick your system has begging for look no further than supergreens.
What Are Supergreens?
Simply put, supergreens are a group of green vegetables, grains, grasses, and algae that contain a complex and unique composition of nutrients, such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. Alongside their bursting natural goodness, supergreens are, well, extremely green in colour and often posses a strong flavour; if that doesn’t scream natural goodness, I don’t know what does!
Some items that fall into the supergreen bracket are spinach, broccoli, kale, brussels, avocado, cucumber, and kiwi, but then casting our thoughts a little outside the box other foods that’ll provide optimum nourishment include wheatgrass, spirulina, alfalfa, and chlorella, the latter four will be covered a little later on in this article.
What Are Their Benefits?
When it comes to food, green is good. You’re already aware that supergreens are packed with a variety of nutrients, and this has lead to them being labelled as a magic bullet for your health. With a high level of concentrated antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, amongst other goodies, supergreens have been linked to the propping up of the immune system, reducing inflammation across the body, healing wounds on the skin, detoxing your system, and improving your digestion.
Let’s look at the key components of supergreens that offer you the greatest benefits.
Arguably the single most largest benefit of supergreens is the high levels of phytonutrients, a naturally occurring chemical produce in plants. Essential for the provision of nutrients in plants, phytonutrients do much the same in humans, promoting a healthy, thriving system through the delivery of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins which aid the body in fending off disease.
Modern diets severely limit the amount of fibre in our diets, despite this complex carbohydrate playing a critical role in removing detrimental waste from our digestive system, and ensuring a well balanced system. Due to this toxin removal function supported by roughage, your chances of developing colon and other cancers, decreases, as well as suppressing the advancement of diabetes.
Gut health is absolutely essential, though often overlooked, as you strive to reach your health goals. Ensuring your digestive system is fighting fit will aid the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, including complex proteins, and without digestive enzymes this process cannot happen, resulting in a less healthy you. Thankfully, supergreens have got your back on this one, meaning your system greatly benefits from more efficient digestion and higher levels of energy.
Yes, as incredible as it may seem, supergreens have regenerative properties, thanks due to the trace elements of chlorophyll – the chemical that make them green. What this means is after your body has extracted the chlorophyll this triggers the cultivation of new skin cells, advancing the process of healing wounds, and can be particularly effective for those who suffer with Eczema and Dermatitis.
What Are Popular Supergreens?
Green is a colour that is captivating on the eye and oozes favourable notions pertaining to the environment, health, and positivity. By incorporating foods such as kale, spinach, avocado, broccoli, brussels, green beans, green olives, green peppers, kiwi fruit, and green tea into your daily dieting regimen, your body will soon be thanking you for nourishing it with such wonderfully rich nutrient sources.
As we mentioned earlier, some of those amongst us really want to delve into the green machine and find the premier products that go far beyond the normal. If you’re seeking ultra nourishing high impact, vitality, then these following products really are the best you can get your hands on and really are the most super of all the greens.
As far as green, natural ingredients go, Wheatgrass has been thrust into the spotlight and has remained in place as an incredibly popular component in juices, powders, and supplements due to it’s astonishing range of nourishment. Originating as the first leaves of the common wheat plant, this humble grass is a nutrient-rich source comprising of iron, calcium, magnesium, amino acids, chlorophyll, and vitamins A, C, and E.
Most beneficial when served fresh, supporters of wheatgrass purport a variety of advantages from this green thanks to it’s immense range of nutrients. Acting as a detoxifier for the liver, promoting energy, stamina, and well-being, aiding weight loss, to killing off cancer cells, and reducing cholesterol, these thin, green stems can work wonders for your health.
Arguably the most fascinating supergreen available, this microalgae is one of the oldest life forms on the Planet, and was a key source of oxygen for the atmosphere as allowing our Earth and it’s lifeforms to evolve.
Noted as the World’s first superfood, spirulina is also brimming with nutrients, with 9 essential and 10 non-essential amino acids, between 55 and 70% protein content (more than beef and chicken), iron, calcium, gamma-linoenic acid, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, and chlorophyll, showcasing a selection of sustenance.
Being so nutritionally excellent, spirunlina comes loaded with health benefits that are as varied as wheatgrass. Studies have shown that this supergreen is a commanding antioxidant due to an active component known as phycocyanin (which has been proven to generate stem cells), though primarily protects our DNA and cells form oxidative damage and acts as an anti-inflammatory, suppresses the hunger hormone gherlin meaning spirulina can be an effective weight loss aid, but maybe most impressively, inhibits the HIV-1 cell replication in our blood mononuclear cells, as well as boosting the anti-cancer NK cells which destroy cancer cells.
These are only a small selection of what spirulina can do for you, if we were to continue we’d need a whole new article! Pretty impressive stuff, huh?
Is it a herb? Is it a legume? Actually both, and absolutely superb for your system! Traditionally grown and deployed as feed for livestock for centuries, we humans first incorporated Alfalfa into our diets for medicinal reasons using the leaves, root, and seeds to our advantage. Due to immense levels of B, C, and K vitamins, acting as a solid source of fibre, and providing the body with magnesium, iron, and copper.
On benefits, alfalfa has more than a few up its sleeve. With cholesterol and saponins aplenty cholesterol is lowered by denying the emergence of atherosclerotic plaques in the blood vessels,
can provide a therapeutic impact on the gastrointestinal tract and reduce indigestion and increase metabolic rate thanks to all those nutrients, and finally it alleviates symptoms tied to the menopause, by releasing chemical phytoestrogens into your system which lessen hot flushes and night sweats.
Alfalfa is a versatile, effective green, which has the added benefit of being readily available for consumption. So get some of this in your salads and sandwiches and reap the benefits.
Algae is back on the menu with the freshwater chlorella challenging spirulina’s dominance. A single-celled green algae with over thirty differing species, chlorella is unsurprisingly crammed with nutrients, though it’s defining attribute compared to the other ingredients on this list is that it’s contains a single hard cell which is indigestible to humans, meaning chlorella must be consumed in supplement form. Whether you take it as a capsule, extract, tablet, or powder, you’re sure to feel the detoxifying goodness of chlorella.
Containing 50-60% protein, vitamin B12 and C, iron, fibre, zinc, potassium and omega-3s, amongst many other minerals, it’s clear to see chlorella is thriving with nourishment. Primarily considered for it’s detoxifying effects by combining and removing heavy metals (such as cadmium and copper) and hurtful compounds from the system, which is good news for your brain, kidneys, and liver.
Chlorella also stimulates your immune system activity leading to greater immune functionality equalling a healthier you. Containing arginine, calcium, potassium, and omega-3, chlorella regulates your blood pressure and reduces stiffness in the arteries.
Finally, your aerobic endurance can receive a boost, as chlorella encourages greater oxygen saturation in the lungs, thanks to to branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) content, meaning increased endurance and greater respiratory health.
What’s Does The Research Say?
Further research provides a favourable outlook on super greens, with a multitude of articles reporting on the variety of benefits; broccoli is a ‘cancer-preventative agent’, spinach contains ‘protective carotenoid compounds that have been linked with decreasing the risk of many diseases’, spirulina’s composite elements positively impact on everything from, ‘malnutrition to antioxidant properties’, and the main component of green tea has ‘several cancer related mechanisms’ that promote anti-caner activity1.
Of course, this article is centred around the benefits of supergreens, providing information and insight on wether this food group can help you achieve your health goals. What must be remembered is that food research is riddled with issues, with an NHS report from 2011 suggesting, ‘claims are almost always overstated’, giving credence to the overly-positive reportage, and furthermore that ‘research into the effects of single foods on our health is notoriously tricky to carry out’2.
Whilst in part meriting the prefix ‘super’, some have suggested it, along with other ‘superfoods’, are simply a marketing gag aimed at promoting sales; and it works, with 61% of British people in 2014 buying items because they had the ‘super’ label attached.
To simply all research we must borrow the archaic and vanilla advice of eating a balanced diet. Whilst this isn’t groundbreaking or revolutionary, it’s effectiveness is undeniable, surpasses most scientific analysis, and cuts out all nonsense surrounding dieting. This 2016 quote from The Guardian summarises the supergreen situation, research, and relevant action you should take, succinctly,
“The truth – so unappealing – is that nutrition is fabulously complex, different for everybody and mostly mysterious. We know that if you eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and do regular exercise, nothing is a superfood. And if you don’t, no superfood will save you.”
How Do I Get More Supergreens Into My Diet?
Now this is the question you’re all keen to know. The benefits are clear, you have your goals, but how does one go about consuming all those greens? Surely it’s vegetables all day?
That’s where you’re wrong.
Much like the diverse nutrients supergreens posses, there are a multitude of means to getting more goodness into your system. Obviously, the foremost option is to eat your veg, so we don’t really need to cover that in any greater depth. The other primary options are far easier and more digestible than stuffing your face with brussels and broccoli; supplements.
Coming in powdered and capsule/tablet form, you can get your daily green kick rather simply, and when taken with a balanced diet, you tick off many of your daily health boxes.
Juicing has long been a popular method of getting in your greens, due to it’s simplicity of creation and consumption, and with numerous guiding recipes available you can ensure you’re ingesting the best and most tasty mixes. Now add a dose of powdered chlorella, spirulina, or whatever you choose and you’ll supercharge your juice with optimum nourishment.
If prepping ingredients for cooking or juicing simply take too much time (we really hope that’s not the case), you’ve still got an option – capsules and tablets. As the most straightforward method of ingesting supergreens, this form makes it unbelievably easy to flush your body with the virtual nutrition is requires. On that note, with these supplements being engineered to incorporate a multitude of the best extracts and elements from a range of supergreens you’ll be taking on a lot of goodness in one fell swoop, whilst reaping the rewards of longer form methods.
Be sure to check the brand before you buy to ensure you’re taking on board exactly what your body and goals need, ensure that the ingredients are clean and organic, and of course, maintain a healthy diet for best results.
How Can I Maximise The Benefits Of Supergreens?
As our knowledge of nutrition has expanded not only eating the right things is key to boosting the benefits, but ensuring the timing of your intake is almost as important. Consider what your eating schedule is, when your training regime takes place, and how your intake of supergreens fits around these two important elements so’s to enhance your gains.
All factors considered, there’s one time you should absolutely not take your dosage, and that’s straight after you finish working out. Why? Because in the immediate aftermath of a workout is when you oxidative stress peaks (the imbalance between your free radicals and antioxidants), meaning your bodies recovery period will be disrupted.
Instead, consider taking your green hit at the opposite time of day to your workout, so your body has time to repair, ingest proteins necessary for recovery, and ultimately gives your body the best chance of absorbing and distributing the supergreen nutrients effectively.
Are There Any Side Effects I Should Know?
A magic bullet supergreens may appear, but like every extract or supplement you’ll ever take, there are potential pitfalls to contend with. Considering the premier sources of nutrients from supergreens come from the freshest crops, it’s down to you to ensure the product you’re buying is organic and free from any outside influence, such as pesticides, other toxic materials, and harmful bacteria, as contamination may not only lessen the desired effect but could also take a toll on your system.
Likewise, if you’re opting for capsules or tablets, we’ve already touched upon ensuring you’re aware of what ingredients are in the composition before going forth.
Finally, be aware that any course of detoxification is bound to make you feel a little rotten at times, but that’s your body getting rid of all the horrid stuff and striving toward a healthier, happier you.
One final note, do be aware that certain ingredients mentioned on this list – we’re looking at you spirulina – do not taste particularly great solo, so don’t be surprised if you’re starting out on this path to green greatness, and you’re left retching after one sip of your juice…prepare your palate for a taste of nature!
The simplicity of natural ingredients juxtaposed with densely packed nutrients are exactly what have thrust supergreens into the limelight, a concoction of goodness that’ll load your body with enzymes, minerals, and vitamins ensuring you’ll be running efficiently in no time.
With modern diets incorporating such high levels of junk and damaging ingredients, it’s somewhat refreshing to witness a health trend that eclipses all beforehand and is here to stay, with attention and scope being thrown on to supergreens. With far greater awareness and accessibility to to quality green foods, hopefully the popularity of supergreens can permeate even further than it currently has leading to great numbers of healthier individuals.
Be it all round better health and wellness, losing weight, clearing up pre-existing conditions, covering your body for the future, whatever it may be supergreens will be your go to health kick ensuring you’re in top condition inside and out.
Green isn’t just good, it’s gold.