Photo of a green smoothie
Green foods are rich in chlorophyll - a powerful antioxidant and detoxifying agent - and essential minerals. [Photo: Bigstock]

Get your greens

23 July, 2014

You may have heard a lot about the benefits of getting more green plants into your diet.

But just what is it about the green stuff that is so good?

Plants are abundant in living chlorophyll, it makes plants green, its often called the ‘blood’ of the plant world. In colour therapy green is called ‘the master colour’ benefiting all conditions  and correcting imbalances.

The colour green, of course, is associated with spring, a time of growth and renewal – think of how you feel when walking in green spaces, it brings peacefulness.

Green foods balance the pH of the body and help detoxification, they have long been used to fight inflammation, restore our vitality and build the blood.

They are also rich in essential minerals.

Minerals occur naturally through time as rocks erode into dust and form soil. These are then used as mineral salts by microbes in the soil, which work in harmony providing nutrients for the plants health.

Minerals are like electrical conductors for our nerve cells. They also help alkalise the body. Every living cell needs minerals for life Using minerals from plants is the most balanced way for us to absorb them easily.

A few of the best

So what are the best greens to go for? We’ve picked a few of our favourites. Some are great just eaten fresh or juiced as part of your daily diet. Others are mostly taken as supplements. A good quality green food powder with these plant powerhouses can be a great ingredient to use in your healthy cooking;  use it in smoothies, salad dressings, soups, risottos and more.


This dark leafy green is a great source of minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, potassium as well as vitamins A, C, E and folic acid. It is traditionally used after winter to replace lost nutrients and is great for

  • Anaemia – Rich source of iron
  • Heart health – Antioxidants for blood vessel health
  • Healthy mind – Antioxidants protect the brain as we age
  • Eye health – Carotenoids and lutein are essential for good vision


One of the oldest life forms on earth (3.5 billion years), spirulina is a single celled micro algae
found in fresh and saltwater. It’s also a nutrient powerhouse containing up to 71% pure protein, 18 amino acids and a full spectrum of nutrients. It’s great for:

  • Anaemia – Rich source of iron, more easily absorbed than beef
  • Skin health – Benefits all skin conditions: GLA, cleansing chlorophyll, beta carotene
  • Healthy mind – Blue pigment (phycocyanin) builds brain neurotransmitters; better mood, focus, memory
  • Eye health – Carotenoids and lutein are essential for good vision and protects from UV light
  • Energy – Easily absorbed B vitamins and magnesium for sustained energy
  • Healthy heart – Increases ‘Good’ cholesterol and lowers ‘Bad’


Native to the Mediterranean, used medicinally for 2,000 years. More vitamin C than citrus, rich in vitamin A, folate, calcium, iron and antioxidants. Include more of it in your diet to help:

  • Immunity – Excellent source of vitamins A, C and antioxidants for immune health. Quercitin for allergies
  • Digestive health – Aids absorption of food, prevents gas and bloating – breath freshener.
  • Bones and teeth – A good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, fluoride and boron
  • Joint health – Diuretic, flushes uric acid from the joints


A single celled, fresh water micro algae, consumed by 7 million people in Japan daily. chlorella is milled to break down it tough cellulose wall, and make it more digestible. Studies show it has more chlorophyll than any other plant (3-5%). It contains 60% protein as well as something called “chlorella growth factor” (CGF) which is rich in amino acids, peptides, proteins, vitamins, sugars, and nucleic acids. Use it for:

  • Cleansing – Used to eliminate toxins – alcohol and environmental contaminants
  • Immunity – Aids recovery of a depleted immune system and resistance to viral & bacterial infections
  • Rejuvenation – CGF increases tissue repair and renewal, including the nervous system & brain
  • Anti-ageing – The highest known source of RND and DNA (10%), all amino acids and a spectrum of nutrients
  • Healthy digestion – Aids gut flora population and enzymes boost digestion – constipation, bad breath

Wild Wrack

Seaweeds such as Ascophyllum, Pelvetia and Fucus have been harvested for food, fertiliser and medicine for thousands of years. Gram for gram seaweeds are higher in minerals and vitamins than land vegetables and are useful for:

  • Thyroid health – Rich source of iodine and selenium, essential to thyroid hormone production.
  • Healthy weight – Fucoxanthin boosts the metabolism & burns fat (thermogenesis), aiding weight loss
  • Cleansing – Alginate attracts toxins, transforms them into simple salts to be eliminated (cellulite)
  • Heart health – High potassium levels (34 x more than banana) help maintain healthy blood pressure

Barley grass and wheat grass

These two grasses are nutritionally identical, though barley grass is easier to digest. These grasses are harvested by hand at the jointing stage when they are at their nutritional peak. Amazingly 1oz of wheat grass is the nutritional equivalent of 1k green vegetables! Barley grass has 11x more calcium than milk, 5x more iron than spinach, 7x more vitamin C than oranges. Great for:

  • Cleansing – Powerfully clears toxins & protects the liver.
  • Beauty – Antioxidants protect our cells from ageing, amino acids aid regeneration
  • Healthfulness – Antioxidants protect us from chronic inflammatory disease
  • Anaemia – Chlorophyll is the ‘blood’ of the plants, with magnesium for energy
  • Healthy weight – Reduces sugar cravings and balances blood sugar, stops snacking
  • Healthy digestion – 42% fibre keeps the bowels regular

Oat grass

A good source of many essential nutrients: Vitamins A, C, E and K, pantothenic acid, chlorophyll, lecithin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and phosphorus. Made by juicing the grass, dehydrated then milled to a powder, it is used for:

  • Antioxidant protection – Provides Super Oxide Dismutase, a potent free radical neutraliser
  • Cleansing – Richest grass source of chlorophyll
  • Anaemia – Chlorophyll is the ‘blood’ of the plants, nearly identical to our haemoglobin
  • Rejuvenation – Protein rich with all essential amino acids for repair
  • Digestion – Enzymes aid the digestion of food

Green tea

Yes tea is a green plant food too! After water tea is the second most consumed product in the world. All tea comes from the same plant, but green tea is unfermented leaving it high in healthy antioxidants. Studies show it has benefits for:

  • Healthy weight – Boosts the metabolism, helping burn fat. Traditionally drunk to balance blood sugar
  • Energy – Green tea contains caffeine for a boost
  • Healthy mind – Drinking 2 cups daily improves mental focus and memory.
  • Joint health – Reduces inflammation, slowing the breakdown of joint cartilage
  • Healthy heart – Increases ‘good’ cholesterol and lowers ‘bad’