Stupendous Fantastic Amazing Green Superfoods!

Reap the many benefits of ancient spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and barley grass.

| July/August 2006

  • Green Foods Corporation’s barley grass field in Ventura County, California.

  • Homegrown barley grass in Ventura, California.

  • A scientist tests barley grass concentrate for pH level, chlorophyll content, taste, moisture and more at Green Foods Corporation’s laboratory in Oxnard, California.

It is one of Mother Nature’s most amazing feats that nearly every food from the earth provides humans and animals with excellent nutrition. Does it follow that those plants that have existed the longest have the most nutritional benefit? Are they the basis for all plant nutrition? We can’t say for sure, but what is clear is that the “green superfoods” — among them spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and barley grass — are some of the easiest and best sources for nutrition available. Some variation of these ancient seaweeds and grasses can be found nearly everywhere on the globe, and their use as a source of concentrated nutrition is one of the most ancient plant/human relationships on Earth.

Americans’ diets are becoming less and less nutritionally complete. Meanwhile, more and more information surfaces on the ability of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables to lower the risk of disease, fight cancer-causing free radicals, improve heart health and reduce the signs of aging. Perhaps the most concentrated greens in nature are just what the doctor ordered.

Meet the Super Greens

Several different plants are known as green superfoods, but for the most part these foods offer similar health benefits.

Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae native to South American and African alkaline lakes, has garnered the most attention and has been the subject of many scientific studies. Spirulina is shaped like a spiral; its color is derived from various pigments: phycocyanin (blue), chlorophyll (green) and carotenoids (yellow and orange).

One of the literal forebears of life on Earth, spirulina and other blue-green algaes helped produce all the oxygen in our atmosphere; the algaes created it as waste from the young planet’s carbon dioxide- and nitrogen-rich atmosphere. More than 35 billion years old, algaes were the first form of photosynthetic life. Spirulina and its cousins often are referred to as “whole foods” or “green superfoods” because they contain a complete nutritional profile, not merely one or two biologically active components.

“It’s a food, not just a supplement,” says Lance S. Sigal, division manager and director of marketing for EarthRise Nutritionals, a spirulina manufacturer who opened the nation’s first spirulina farm in California’s Sonoran Desert in 1979. “It has an extended nutritional profile. It has an easy-to-digest form of iron and vegetable protein. It’s a good overall product.” In fact, spirulina boasts the highest concentrations per volume of any food of beta-carotene, vitamin B12, iron and the essential omega-6 fatty acid GLA (gamma linolenic acid); it also has the most protein per volume of any food, with fully 60 percent digestible plant protein.

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