Were your parents right to make you ‘eat your greens’?

Most of us, when we were still knee-high, will have been told by our parents to ‘eat your greens’, usually much to our dismay. Afterall, to a child the taste of bitter greens, especially Brussel sprouts and cabbage, is not a tasty treat. It has to be said though that our parents were giving us the best nutritional guidance possible as very few foods can match the benefit of ‘greens’, especially the dark leafy varieties.

Recently I mentioned this to one of my clients, who believed that so long as he ate lots of protein from beef and lamb, he would be healthy and strong. He wanted to ‘bulk out’ to impress the ladies! I asked him to imagine how cows (from which we get the beef on which he was so keen) get so big and strong when all they naturally eat is green grass. He didn’t know that green plants, and especially the green and blue-green algaes, are outstanding sources of high-quality protein.

But before you dig up the lawn, we humans do not benefit from eating grass directly. Unlike cows and other ‘ruminants’ with four stomachs and the required bacteria and very slow transit time for thorough digestion, humans cannot digest the cellulose which is abundant in grass.

Other green leaves though, like spinach, kale, watercress, and broccoli and alfalfa sprouts are easier to digest, especially when the leaves are still small and ‘young’. Even then, you need to chew well to break down as many of the cell walls as possible, and by far the best way is to blend leaves in a Nutri bullet or similar blender – this is infinitely more effective than chewing alone.

Of course, it’s not only green coloured vegetables and fruits that are important – we need a rainbow selection. In the UK we’ve been advised for some time to eat ‘5-a-day’, and this has now been replaced by ‘at least 7-a-day’. The benefits of this rainbow selection are widely publicised, and yet most people struggle to eat anywhere near this amount.

The latest national diet and nutrition survey shows that only 30% of adults managed 5-a-day. Children’s intake is particularly worrying, with only 10% of boys and 7% of girls in the 11-18 age group getting their 5-a-day. They’re not encouraging statistics, which don’t hold out much hope for the new 7-a-day recommendations!

So what’s going on here?

Whilst most people are aware that they need to eat more vegetables, we don’t always allow enough time in our busy Western lifestyle, nor have the desire to cook and eat fresh food made from scratch – convenience food has become an easy alternative. Sadly, heavily processed convenience food contains only a fraction of the nutrients that we need for good health. Add to this the stress that busy lifestyles bring, and we now have even greater demands on the body’s nutrient resources (especially magnesium), which convenience foods simply cannot provide.

It’s clear we do need to get ‘back to basics’ and ensure that we prepare quality foods from scratch more often. One of the easiest ways to begin is to invest in a blender with a good motor – a Nutri Bullet will be just fine. There are numerous recipes online for ‘green smoothies’ – I make one or more every day, and I ALWAYS add a spoon of some kind of green powder, such as spirulina, green barley or blue-green algae.

What is it about ‘greens’ that’s so beneficial?

There are several good reasons actually, but one of the most important is that green plants and green and blue-green algaes contain chlorophyll. This chlorophyll, we all learnt at school, is used in photosynthesis – it uses sunlight energy to synthesize water and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into organic compounds such as glucose. And crucially for life on earth, photosynthesis via chlorophyll in green plants and algae is responsible for virtually all the oxygen in the atmosphere.

At the centre of the chlorophyll molecule we find the mineral magnesium, and it’s no surprise that magnesium deficiency is one of the most common mineral deficiencies we find in humans. That’s another reason why our parents were right to encourage us to eat our greens.

Clearly we need to eat more vegetables, and some brightly coloured fruit (especially the berries). Not only would this provide the magnesium so desperately needed by many, but also give us a host of phytonutrients and pigments, and, of course, the all important fibre.

To really maximise our nutritional status and benefits over and above these recommendations, we can add the green powders so beloved by those of us who aim for better than average vitality.

There is plenty of choice, but everything is not equal in the world of ‘green powders’. I prefer AquaSource products because unlike many other suppliers AquaSource Algae is never frozen and never exposed to high temperatures like most other drying processes. AquaSource’s proprietary BioActive Dehydration® process ensures maximum nutritional value.

One of AquaSource’s most popular products has always been ‘Green Energy’, which contains equal amounts of Organic Alfalfa, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (Klamath Lake Algae) and Hawaiian Spirulina.

1. AquaSource Algae from the Upper Klamath Lake – one of the purest and most mineral-rich algae in the world.

2. Organic Alfalfa – as a food source grown worldwide, alfalfa is known for its long tap roots that gather minerals, amino acids and other nutrients from the soil. Alfalfa provides concentrated nutrition in a very digestible form.

3. Hawaiian Spirulina – simply the best spirulina available because it is processed naturally and grown year around in the perfect climate of Hawaii, it is purity tested, guaranteeing superior quality and nutrition. Often referred to as the world’s most nutritious natural food, Spirulina contains the most remarkable concentration of nutrients known in any food, plant, grain or herb. It’s the highest protein food – over 60% all digestible vegetable protein. It has the highest concentration of beta carotene, iron and trace minerals and the rare essential fatty acid GLA.

Take 3 capsules a day, or open up and add to your daily green smoothie.