In a recent and comprehensive study (the National Diet and Nutrition Survey), the UK government revealed that our intake of several essential vitamins and minerals is well below recommended levels. In fact over 90% of UK women have an iron intake below RNI (recommended nutritional intake) and some 50% of men a vitamin A intake below RNI. However, our penchant for unhealthy, convenience foods, which are high in calories and low in beneficial nutrients, is not solely to blame for these shocking statistics. Modern farming techniques are also responsible for an unremitting decline in the overall quality of our fresh produce, which now contains fewer vitamins, minerals and other valuable nutrients than it did just fifty years ago.
So, how can you ensure that you and your family obtain all of the essential nutrients required to remain fit and healthy? For many the answer lies in organic super foods, and in particular, organic super greens.
What are super greens?
Super greens are a special category of superfood that includes vegetables, grains and grasses. Super greens typically boast an intense flavour and rich colour and are naturally high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants, many of the ingredients that your body needs to function effectively and that are coincidentally often lacking in our standard diet. Extensive research has confirmed that enjoying a diet high in super greens may help lower your risk of both obesity and disease, including cancer and diabetes and will ultimately extend your life expectancy.
Super greens include a range of vivid green vegetables such as:
Kale – cabbage-like leaves that are readily available in most supermarkets and delicious in soups and stir-frys. Kale is high in fibre and packed with vitamins (including A, C and K) and minerals (such as calcium, manganese, folate and copper).
Chard – a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. Again, these super greens contain large amounts of fibre, vitamins (including A, C and K), minerals and protein. Several animal studies have demonstrated that chard helps regulate blood sugar levels and may therefore be of benefit to those suffering from diabetes.
Arugula – considered an aphrodisiac in many Arabian countries, arugula (more commonly known as rocket) belongs to the mustard family and has a delightful peppery flavour. This super green is rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, folic acid, manganese and magnesium and can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. Research from Saudi Arabia suggests that eating arugula can help prevent stomach ulcers.
Broccoli – another widely available super green that can be used in a variety of raw or cooked dishes. Broccoli contains vitamins A, C and K, folate, dietary fibre, manganese and potassium as well as a number of phytonutrients, plant oestrogens and carotenoids, which are all incredibly beneficial for your health. Scientists from the University of Illinois recently revealed that eating broccoli or other brassica vegetables such as kale, between 3-5 times a week produces sufficient levels of sulphoraphane in the body to have anti-cancer effects.
In addition, super greens are available in a selection of powerful super food supplements including:
Spirulina – a variety of blue-green algae that contains a range of easily absorbable nutrients including carotenoids, essential fatty acids and pre-digested protein. Spirulina was supplied to Aztec warriors to improve their strength and resilience and is the richest natural source of vitamin E and beta-carotene. Spirulina can help boost your immune system and reduce the risk of allergies.
Chlorella – a green algae with a unique blue component. This super green features soft cell walls that don’t need to be broken down, thus allowing up to 95% of the super green to be absorbed into the body. Chlorella contains a variety of nutrients such as chlorophyll, protein, vitamins (including B12), minerals, amino acids and nucleic acids, which help regulate our metabolism and strengthen the immune system. The latest research from Japan suggests that chlorella might be effective in fighting obesity and a number of lifestyle diseases including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Wheat and barely grasses – these tender, young super greens are high in protein (wheatgrass contains over 20% protein) and packed with digestive enzymes that help boost our immunity and delay the signs of aging. And those with wheat or grain allergies usually find that they can safely enjoy wheat and barley grass without a reaction. A pilot conducted by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center revealed that regular wheatgrass juice therapy significantly reduced rectal bleeding and overall disease activity in patients with ulcerative colitis. According to nutritionist, Gillian McKeith, barley grass offers more protein than a sirloin steak, five times the amount of iron as broccoli, seven times more vitamin C than orange juice and 11 times more calcium than milk.
Super greens and 3 simple uses
Super greens can be incorporated into your daily diet without much fuss or additional planning, either in the form of a supplement or by including the vegetables in a variety of tempting recipes.
Below are 3 simple, yet delicious super green recipes to get you started.
‘Super greens are go’ smoothie
– 2 cucumbers
– 1 head of celery
– 100g of arugula (rocket)
– 2 apples
– 1 heaped tablespoon of greener grasses
Place all of the ingredients into your blender and blitz until smooth. Next cover a glass with a mylk bag before pour the mixture in. Serve and drink immediately.
2) Amazing arugula salad
– 1 bunch of fresh arugula (rocket)
– 2 sliced onions
– 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
– 1 diced tomato
– ½ a squeezed lemon
– 1 teaspoon of wheatgrass powder
First rinse and dry the arugula leaves, before placing in a large salad bowl. Next add the onions, mushrooms and tomato. Now mix the olive oil, lemon juice and wheat grass powder together. Season with salt and pepper and then drizzle over the salad before serving.
3) Quinoa a la super greens
– 50g of quinoa
– 4 spring onions
– 1 avocado
– The juice of 1 lemon
– 1 tsp. of ground cumin
– 1 tsp. of wheatgrass powder
– A small handful of fresh mint
– A small handful of parsley
– ¼ of a cucumber
– Extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the quinoa according to the instructions on the packaging. Next rinse the quinoa under cold water and drain. Slice the onion and avocado and place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, cumin and wheatgrass powder and salt and pepper to taste. Add in the remaining ingredients and the cooked quinoa and mix well together before serving.