Supergreens: Wheatgrass, Barleygrass, Chlorella or Spirulina?

22 August 2014

Wheat Grass

Although wheatgrass is made from wheat, it is gluten free, safe for those with coeliac disease, and it is similar to eating dark green vegetables.  Wheatgrass is low calorie and packed full of nutrients, making it a high density, nutrient rich food.  It contains many minerals, amino acids, B vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, fibre and chlorophyll.

current crop
A fresh crop of Wheat's Up's wheat grass


Health claims related to wheatgrass include: helping blood flow, maintaining healthy colon and intestinal flora, aiding digestion, wound healing, eczema and sport injuries as well as general detoxification.

It is safe for babies, during pregnancy and while breast feeding.

 

Barley Grass

Barley grass is also a gluten free cereal grass. It is high in chlorophyll and is again similar to eating dark green leafy vegetables; however it has a higher nutritional density than wheatgrass.  It is said to be very high in protein, vitamin C and natural minerals such as iron and calcium.  It is neutralizing and nourishing for the body.

Barley grass is best known for its alkalizing abilities that balance the body's pH levels.

Some lifestyle choices such as processed and refined foods, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and cigarettes along with high stress levels can make our bodies more acidic.  In these cases taking barley grass may be favorable for re-regulating the body’s pH, as many diseases may be linked to high acidity within the body.

Health benefits thought to come from barley grass include beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood pressure and immune function.  It contains high levels of fibre which promotes natural digestion and good bowel health.

Barley grass is best consumed by juicing the grass sprouts, but it is also available in powder form.  It is easily digested and is great for those on restricted diets or with weakened digestive systems.

It is safe for babies, during pregnancy and while breast feeding.


Microalgae

Microalgae are whole plants that claim to be the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Microalgae include spirulina and chlorella.

Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae found to be rich in protein (containing all the essential amino acids), vitamins (including B vitamins), beta-carotene, minerals (including iron, manganese, zinc, copper and selenium), antioxidants, essential fatty acids and other nutrients.

While currently there is not enough evidence to support health benefit claims spirulina has been thought to aid the immune system by protecting against infection and allergic reaction.  It is also linked to improved digestive function as it may aid the production of good gut bacteria and protect the liver against damage.  Spirulina has been claimed to be beneficial to many areas of general health, this is possibly because it contains such a variety of nutrients that can be easily assimilated and utiliszed by our bodies.

Currently, there are no known safety concerns. Spirulina is safe in pregnancy and for children of any age.  There has been some caution suggested with the use of spirulina when taking immuno-suppressant drugs and in cases of phenylketonuria (PKU).  (PKU is a fairly uncommon disorder where a person doesn’t have the enzyme to break down some proteins and this is usually diagnosed very early in life.)  If you have any concerns always consult your health practitioner first.

It is important to note that Spirulina is a natural detoxifying agent and some people may experience a cleansing effect when they first start taking it.

Spirulina is available in powder, capsule or tablet form.  Dosage ranges from 250mg to 5g daily. As a general guideline 1tsp of powder or around 5-6 of the 500mg tablets a day are suggested.

Spirulina powder can be added to smoothies, salsa, guacamole, dips, pesto, or just sprinkled on food.

It is best to begin taking spirulina in smaller doses and increase the dose as your body becomes used to it.

Chlorella

Chlorella is a microscopic green algae containing a large number of nutrients with over 20 vitamins including all B vitamins, vitamins C & E.  It also contains minerals such as iron and calcium along with anti-oxidants, essential fatty acids and complete proteins. 

Chlorella is higher in chlorophyll than any other known plant and has a high detoxifying capacity due to the ‘cracked’ cell walls and its apparent ability to ‘grab’ unwanted materials and pollutants in the bowel and intestine and flush them out.

Its phytonutrients and anti-oxidants may help protect against free radicals and environmental pollutants.

Chlorella is an alkaline food, which counters the over-acidity of many processed foods and helps raise our bodily pH levels towards the alkaline side of the scale, thereby greatly assisting metabolic function. Chlorella may reduce the risk of chronic illnesses and is thought to be beneficial to the immune and digestive systems as well as general overall health. 

Chlorella is also thought to flush out stored waste and pollutants, clean and detoxify the body, tone and cleanse the blood and reduce body odour.  It is commonly recommended for use during detoxes.  It apparently has an ability to bind with mercury, lead, copper and cadmium, which could make it useful in heavy metal detoxification.

Caution is warranted when taking chlorella alongside warfarin due to the high content of vitamin K. It is also not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.

Additionally, to avoid a detox reaction, when taking chlorella it is important to ensure one is drinking at least 2 litres of water a day. It is best to start with a very small dose and build up to the recommended dosage.


Which one? When?

A brief table of the four super greens is outlined below to aid in choosing which supergreen to take:

Wheatgrass Barley Grass Spirulina Chlorella
For those who want to maintain a healthy immune system or simply want to look and feel great. For times in need of a bit more balancing, neutralizing and nourishment to the body. For day to day benefits including increasing energy and immunity. For times when extra detoxification or an extra clean out of the bowel is needed.

 

At Commonsense Organics we have a variety of these supergreens available.  If you have any further questions about any of those mentioned, please ask our staff in the Health section.

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Sources

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/923.html
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/spirulina-000327.htm#ixzz2WhyG5Vtf
Braun, L. & Cohen, M. (2010). Herbs & natural supplements: an evidence-based guide (3rd ed.)
Moorhead, K. & Capella, B. (2001). Spirulina. Nature’s superfood.
Lifestream. The world of Green Superfoods pamphlet
http://www.naturalnews.com/031226_barley_grass_nutrition.html#ixzz2X0sqcDcj
http://www.claridges.co.nz/products/green-barley.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheatgrass
http://www.lifestream.co.nz/Products/Wheat-Grass/default.aspx
https://www.synergynatural.com

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