Kale, romaine, collard greens—all great, nutritious leafy greens. But what about other nutrient-dense greens like chlorella, kelp, spirulina, and wheat grass? Not exactly the types of veggies you might find in the produce section at your local supermarket! And yet, they are just as important, if not more so.
How do these greens promote better health? Let’s take a look.
Why Do You Need Greens?
Greens are the health superstars of the food world. They are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients. But their benefits don’t stop there. Greens also help support good health by balancing the body’s pH. If you think back to your high school chemistry class, maybe you remember a lesson on pH. Maybe you even placed a strip of special “tape” on your tongue to measure your body’s pH.
The pH scale ranges from 0, which is the most acidic, to 14, which is the most alkaline—with 7 considered neutral. Your blood needs to be kept in a slightly alkaline range, between 7.35-7.45. Normally blood pH is tightly regulated and shifts only when a person is really sick. However, intercellular acidity, which is measured by urinary or saliva pH testing, can change significantly due to lifestyle, including things like diet, exercise, and sleep. Fortunately, the body has a unique “buffering” system that protects your blood’s pH to keep it in a safe range – but it does so at a cost.
If your blood and other bodily fluids become too acidic, the pancreas and kidneys secrete neutralizing bicarbonate. Key alkalizing minerals can also be pulled from your bones to aid in this buffering process. But this extra buffering can deplete the body of alkaline minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
So what can you do to rebalance your pH? Get more greens! The goal is to make sure that 75 to 80 percent of the foods you eat are alkalizing and only 20 to 25 percent are acidifying. Including a high-quality powdered greens drink as part of your routine can help you reach this goal. Besides the usual leafy greens you’re likely familiar with, there are a few more “powerhouse” greens you should consider adding to your regimen.
Wheatgrass: This juice bar staple is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids. Among its 17 amino acids, 8 are considered essential, meaning your body can’t produce them—they must come from your diet. Wheatgrass is a powerful source of glutathione, known as the “master” antioxidant. It’s little wonder that preliminary research has found that it reduces oxidative damage to cells. Other studies suggest that wheatgrass may support healthy cholesterol levels, aid in balancing blood sugar, counter an inappropriate inflammatory response, and induce the destruction of damaged or abnormal cells.1
Chlorella: This freshwater algae has survived on the earth for over two billion years. The secret to chlorella’s longevity is its fibrous outer wall. Although this defensive wall protects this single-cell algae, it also prevents the body’s ability to take advantage of chlorella’s detoxification benefits. Fortunately, scientists have found that breaking this wall releases chlorella’s natural ability to bind toxins and heavy metals through a process known as chelation. Chlorella also boasts a wealth of vitamins including vitamins B1, B2, B12, folic acid, C, and K. Plus, chlorella is a potent source of minerals, essential fatty acids, protein, and fiber.
Spirulina: High in antioxidants, spirulina has been shown to inhibit the production of inflammatory-signaling molecules. Spirulina is also rich in high-quality protein, B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Not only does this make spirulina an alkaline food, its rich nutrient profile gives this algae numerous health benefits as well. Research shows that spirulina supports healthy lipid levels, helps maintain blood sugar balance, benefits those with seasonal allergies, and improves muscle strength.3
Kelp: This common seaweed is rich in B vitamins, which play a critical role in cellular metabolism. Because it absorbs nutrients from its surrounding environment, kelp contains more than 15 amino acids and is also a great source of calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, boron, and manganese. As a result, this mineral-rich seaweed helps maintain bone density and muscle health.4
If you don’t think you’re getting enough green vegetables in your daily routine, try adding a nutrient-dense powdered greens drink mix to water, juice, or your favorite smoothie. It will not only help you to meet your daily veggie intake, it will support virtually every system in your body.
- Bar-Sela G, Cohen M, Ben-Arye E, et al. The Medical Use of Wheatgrass: Review of the Gap Between Basic and Clinical Applications. PubMed. 2015.
- Lloyd-Jones, R. Adams, J. McPherson F, et al. Impact of Daily Chlorella Consumption on Serum Lipid and Carotenoid Profiles in Mildly Hypercholesterolemic Adults: a Double-Blinded, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrition Journal. BioMed Central, January 1, 1970.
- Karkos P, C Leong, Karkos C, et al. Spirulina in Clinical Practice: Evidence-Based Human Applications. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2011.
- International Osteoporosis Foundation. Ten Ways to Boost Your Bone Health at the Kitchen Table. IOF.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.