Super-Greens and Exercise

SuperGreens are an amazing group of plants, rich in chlorophyll and other pytonutrients. They are dark green because they are saturated with chlorophyl, the lifeblood of plants.

Supergreens begin the food chain. 

SuperGreen foods contain all the essential building blocks needed to sustain life. They promote good health and are strong agents to prevent disease.

The SuperGreens are made of two types. One is the unicellular plants of the oceans (Spirulina and Chlorella).

The other group is the phytonutrient-rich sprouts of seed producing grasses like barley and wheat grass.  

Because of their high nutritional content and bioavailability, these foods have sparked intense interest in healthy, energy enhancing and immune supporting drinks. 

 Grass

Barley grass is considered the most nutritional of the green grasses.  Green grasses are the only vegetation many animals eat. It therefore must meet all their nutritional needs.

Grasses are the forerunner of grains.

Green grasses’ reproductive cycle ultimately produces grains. But before grains are produced, these plants remain in an early or grass stage. During the grass stage, the plant contains the same spectrum of vitamins and minerals that dark green vegetables have.

When the grasses are harvested at this young age, their chemical makeup provides more nutrients than their adult counterparts. For example, wheat grass has over twice the amount of protein compared to wheat flour. Wheat grass has a high concentration of vitamin A, while wheat flour has none.

Green barley grasses also contain enzymes that catalyze chemical reactions that are part of digestion. It is believed that green barley grass contains thousands of enzymes and is especially high in superoxide dismutase (SOD), a major detoxifying enzyme. Other benefits of barley grass include improving cholesterol levels and repressing inflammation.

 

Sprouts are the early growth of seeds. Sprouts grow and eventually develop into full-grown plants. These plants provide the grains that are staples of many diets. Before reaching maturity, sprouts are an enormous source of nutrients.


Spirulina

Spirulina is a unicellular, aquatic blue-green algae.  Spirulina lacks a cell wall, so its nutrients are easy to obtain. Spirulina depends on the energy from the sun and the minerals from the water to grow. As a one celled plant, it grows very fast and produces an enormous amount of oxygen in the process.

In addition, spirulina contains a library of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and phytonutrients.

Spirulina contains high levels of important antioxidants including chlorophyll, alpha and beta-carotene and is unique in synthesizing the cancer-preventing molecule, phycocyanin.

Spirulina provides a good supply of amino acids as well as vitamin B12, iron, chromium and selenium. Spirulina also promotes good digestion and is considered a prebiotic food. Spirulina provides growth factors to support and promote the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria and in addition, helps restore the acid-base balance in the digestive system by neutralizing the acidity caused by meats, simple sugars, soft drinks and refined foods.

 

Chlorella

Chlorella is a unicellular, green algae that is protected by a strong cell wall. In order to obtain its library of phytonutrients including chlorophyll this wall must be broken. Some strains are now being marketed for their soft wall and the increased bioavailability this provides.

Chlorella is found in fresh water and contains a high concentration of chlorophyll, nucleic acids, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants and zinc, a mineral often deficient in females and athletes.

 

Chlorella contains much more chlorophyll than Spirulina but because it’s cell wall is made of cellulose, much of the chlorophyll remains unabsorbed and is excreted along with cellulose.

Chlorella’s health benefits include improved immunity, detoxification and anti-cancer activity. It is also believed to enhance white blood cell function and speed wound healing.

 

Algae

Seaweeds are classified as plants.

Unlike plants on land, algae lack  roots, stems, and leaves.

Algae have been used for thousands of years as food and medicine. As is the case with other botanicals, the effects of plants is cumulative and requires time.

 

The Athlete’s Solution highly recommends edible algae as either a food that is part of meals or taken as a supplement to the diet.

 

Algae are also useful to athletes trying to shed pounds as well.

 

Seaweeds or sea vegetables can be green, brown or red.

Green algae (Chlorophyta) live close to the shore.

Brown algae (Phaeophyta) are found somewhat deeper, while red algae (Rhodophyta) live in deep salt water.  

Scientists theorize that green algae are the ancestors of modern-day land vegetables.

Like all plants, seaweeds were an obvious choice for local cultures to feed on and use their phytonutrients for healing.

 

Cultures that live near the sea depend on its fruits.

 

The Japanese have always depended on the sea.  Not only for fish that make up many of their meal  but also for her seaweed.

The Japanese harvest these red plants and use them as food. Their use of raw wild fish and seaweed created one of the healthiest diets on the planet. They did what they needed to do. Live off the sea.

 

The major reason why this is a very healtrhy diet is because of the library of compounds embedded in the skin of the fish (omega-3s) and the phytonutrients from the agae. They are formed when carbon in the pressence of sunlight is used to synthesize the carbohydrates of seaweed.

This universe of compounds includes phycoerythrin and phycocyanin, the pigments that gives red algae its color. It also allows them to live in deeper and colder waters.

Seaweed contains iodine and has been used as a source for drugs including anticoagulants, antibiotics and anti-hypertensive agents.

Sea vegetables are derived from all three types of algae. Some of these algae are believed to contain anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anticancer compounds.

 

When algae are dried, pressed into sheets and roasted, it is called Nori.  Nori is a paper thin sheet of red edible algae.

Nori

 

According to the Japanese, a sheet of nori a day keeps the doctor away. And so, nori is used to wrap sushi or rice balls, added to noodle soups and tossed into salads in the form of flakes.

Nori’s value lies in its high protein content (up to 35% of nori’s dry weight) and its high vitamin C content, which is more than one and a half times that of an orange.

 

Sea lettuces are green edible algae that are eaten raw in salads and cooked in soups by cultures bound to the sea (Great Britain, Ireland,  Japan and Korea.

 Kelp

Kelp are large brown seaweeds or sea vegetables. Kelp grows in underwater forests or kelp forests. The clear and shallow water requires a rich supply of nutrient.

Brown algae contain a carotenoid called fucoxanthin. Fucoxanthin is a carotenoid found in the chloroplasts of brown algae. This provides brown algae with their typical brown to olive-green color. These brown algae are more often classified as protista rather than plants.

Edible kelp or brown algae includes Kombu from the Laminaria japonica and Wakame from Undaria pinnatifida.

 

Kombu is a Japanese food made from brown algae. Wakame is another Japanese food made from brown algae. Wakame is added to miso soup and salads.

 

Kombu and Wakame are among the healthiest foods on the planet.

 

Agar

 

Kanten or agar is derived from Gelidium red algae. Nori on the other hand, is made from Porphyra red algae.

 

Agar-agar, the Malaysian name for seaweed, is a gelatinous substance commonly called agar (kanten to the Japanese). This polymer is used in many Japanese foods and desserts. Former biology students will remember agar-agar as the material in Petri dishes that tested microbial growth.

 

In earlier times. Red seaweed, after harvesting, was transported to the mountains where the water in the plant would freeze and separate from the polymer, agarose. Today, these sea plants are freeze dried, dehydrated and packaged into colorless sheets or bars of agar.

Agar is a gelatinous material that consists of long chain polymers of alternating galactose and hydrogalactose sugars. Agarose is the name for this very soluble fiber.

 

Agarose is an oligosacharide, a chain of sugars linked by bonds between galactose and hydrogalactose subunits.  Alternating sugars allow two chains to form a helix so tightly wrapped that water becomes trapped inside its helix.

 

The amount of water the helix holds and the degree of cross linkage, determines the rigidity of this difficult to digest carbohydrate.

 

The agarose polymer is needed by the plant to prevent the plant’s cells from collapsing in salt water.

 

Structurally, agarose is a component of the algae's cell walls. Heating breaks down the crosslinks between chains.

Heating converts the agar polymer into a liquid. Upon cooling, the crosslinks are reformed and an agar gel forms.

Agar is available in bars, flakes, and powders. Its use in a normal Japanese diet provides fiber and represses hunger. This last effect is responsible for its being promoted as a dietary aid.

 

Agar is high in fiber, which prevents cholesterol from being absorbed in the colon. Agarose is also believed to cause cancer cells to self-destruct, a process known as apoptosis.

More in this category: « Cruciferous Vegetables