5 Reasons Why Green is Good!
Mother nature has a wonderful way of using colour to highlight the health benefits of particular foods. Green foods indicate a high level of chlorophyll, what we might call a plant’s life blood. Read on to find out 5 reasons why green is good for humans!
Plants produce different phytochemicals in response to their environment. Chlorophyll is a phytochemical essential for photosynthesis, a process by which plants and algae absorb energy from sunlight to make food. It is as much a basic component of the plant’s blood as haemoglobin is to the human body. In fact, chlorophyll is chemically similar to haemoglobin, with magnesium being in the centre of the chlorophyll molecule instead of iron, hence plants are such a good source of dietary magnesium.
Here are just 5 of the many reasons why green food is good for you!
- Cleansing: Chlorophyll increases certain enzymes required for phase 2 of the detoxification process in the liver. This promotes the natural elimination of harmful toxins and optimises liver health. With the liver working well, hormones can also be kept in balance.
- Antioxidant: Oxidative stress is the effect that free radicals have on the body when there aren’t enough antioxidants defences to neutralise them. Oxidative stress is thought to be involved in the development of many diseases. A higher intake of green leafy vegetables correlates with higher levels of antioxidants in the blood stream, helping to protect our DNA from damage.
- Anticancer properties: Chlorophyll can bind to potential carcinogens e.g. polyaromatic hydrocarbons found in tobacco smoke, heterocyclic amines found in cooked meat and aflatoxin mould on grains and legumes. By binding to these potential cancer forming chemicals, chlorophyll reduces their absorption in the gut. Circulation is reduced throughout the body preventing them from reaching susceptible tissues.
- Supports correct pH levels: We require a different pH (measure of alkalinity and acidity) for various biological systems, and the body’s natural wisdom sets and maintains these levels. For instance the stomach operates at around a pH of 2, increasing to 4 or 5 after we have eaten, and the intestines around a pH of 7.4. The body uses ‘buffering’ mechanisms in order to maintain these crucial levels. An alkaline diet rich in vegetables (especially green leafy ones) reduces the need for buffering. So what we eat does not directly affect the pH levels, but does affect how hard the body has to work to maintain them.
- Blood sugar balancing and weight control: Dark green leafy vegetables are also an excellent source of protein and fibre, both of which are great for blood sugar control. In addition, a Swedish study using a chlorophyll supplement, found that when taken after eating, it balanced the release of hormones that made us feel fuller and suppressed hunger, potentially curbing overeating later in the day.
Green smoothies pack a punch
Green smoothies are a great way to really pack in your chlorophyll rich veggies. By blending greens in smoothies, we retain all the benefits of the plant but maximise the nutrient benefits by presenting it in ‘pre-digested’ form – i.e. ready chewed. Here are some good greens to try in smoothies:
- Lamb’s Lettuce
- Pak choi
Delicious combinations to try:
- 1 cup water + 1 banana + handful frozen mango + 1⁄2 large bag of spinach
- 2 cups watercress + 1 banana + 1 small mango + water
- 6-8 leaves of romaine lettuce + 1⁄2 honeydew melon + water
- 1 cup of apple juice + 1 banana + 1 small mango + 5 large kale leaves + water
- 4 ripe pears + 4-5 kale leaves + a few sprigs of mint + water
Barley grass, wheat grass, chlorella and the blue-green algae spirulina, are loaded with chlorophyll. Add them to smoothies for an extra boost.