Showing posts with label wheatgrass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wheatgrass. Show all posts

Friday, August 2, 2013

What the Heck are Superfoods anyway?

When the mood strikes, pizza probably sounds like a super food to be chowing down on.  But what are people talking about when they refer to some foods as “superfoods”?  And why should you care?  To find out, read this concise intro to super foods.  We’ll cover the basics and a bit more, including: 
  • What are superfoods?
  • What makes superfoods so super?
  • How can I get superfoods into my diet?
Super foods

What are superfoods?

Superfoods are a category of natural foods that are, bite-for-bite, unusually high in nutritional value.  Most of the foods typically included in the category of superfoods are not only nutrient dense but also lower in calories, and are generally high in phytonutrient content. 

Unless you’ve been delving deeply into health foods, many superfoods may be completely new to you, such as maca root powder, blue-green algae, wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina, and chlorella.  But many more commonly consumed foods are also commonly categorized as superfoods, such as blueberries, spinach, dandelion greens, kale, sardines, and pistachios. 

What makes superfoods so super?

Superfoods fuel your body better than highly processed foods.  Those who regularly consume superfoods often rave about such benefits as increased levels of natural energy, more balanced hormone systems, faster healing from injuries or illnesses, increased mental alertness, and a general sense of well being.
The benefits you may experience from a diet high in superfoods may also result from what other foods do not provide by comparison – from what your diet lacked but needed before you began regularly consuming superfoods.  Many of the superfoods are eaten in a raw or dehydrated state, preserving their phytonutrient content (plant nutrients that are killed from heating and other processing methods).  Also, superfoods are an excellent source of antioxidants, which may help you counteract the negative effect of free radicals.  As well, many foods grown in soil that has been depleted of its mineral content can make even farm-grown natural foods less nutritious.  With the nutrient-dense nature of superfoods, you can still be sure you’re getting a good quantity of essential vitamins and minerals.

Fresh kale

How can I get superfoods into my diet?

To boost your diet and your health by consuming superfoods, get an easy start by increasing your intake of these common, easy-to-find, and easy-to-prepare foods:
  • Spinach – Research suggests that spinach can help prevent certain cancers, age-related macular degeneration, and cardiovascular disease.  Simply substitute spinach for lettuce in your salad to start your ride on the superfood train.
  • Kale – This nutrient-rich green can easily be added to your salad.  Learn more about kale.
  • Blueberries – Loaded with antioxidants, just add a half cup to your next serving of Greek yogurt (another superfood) and your healthy benefits may include decreased aging effects of degenerative diseases, improved motor skills, and better urinary tract health, according to some studies.
  • Wild salmon – This seafood is rich in healthful omega-3 fatty acids and protein.  Make a salmon-and-kale salad and you’ll be going whole-hog with superfoods.
  • Honey –  This sweet additive to your favorite tea, cereal, or bread is full of beneficial antioxidants and oligosaccharides – a substance that boosts the levels of good bacteria in your colon.
  • Greek yogurt – a healthy protein source that’s loaded with gut-friendly bacteria.  Use Greek yogurt as a low-fat alternative to sour cream. You can even make your own Greek yogurt fairly easily.
HoneyIf you want to experiment with some of the more exotic superfoods, many of which are highly concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients – try these:

Are there superfood recipes?

There are more superfood recipes available online than you can shake an organic stick at.  To get you started, try these:
For a few hundred more recipes that use superfoods, simply do a Google search for “superfood recipes.”

Greek yogurt with blackberries

How can I learn more about superfoods and super-healthy dieting?

Some good resources for delving deep on superfoods:
  • Learn about specific superfoods in this Top 10 Superfoods article.
  • Read The World’s 127 Healthiest Foods, nearly all of which are generally considered superfoods.
  • For a serious education on superfoods, check out the book Superfoods For Dummies by Brent Agin, MD, and Shereen Jegtvig.
For more information on health-speak, make sure and check out these other what-the-heck articles from FamilyWize What the Heck Are Free Radicals Anyway? and What the Heck are Antioxidants Anyway?

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 5, 2013

Consumption of Wheatgrass 101

I am sure you have heard of wheatgrass, but have you tried it? If you read our last article about the health benefits of wheatgrass, you may be looking for answers to questions such as, where can I get wheatgrass, and how should I take wheatgrass? In what form?  Read on for answers!

Where can I get me some wheatgrass?

Let’s go over the main options available when choosing to imbibe in nature’s miracle grass:
Option 1 ‑ Buy freshly juiced wheatgrass
Find your nearest juice bar or health food store and ask for a shot or two of wheatgrass. If they offer it, you'll get an ounce of wheatgrass juice in a small cup, freshly juiced while you watch. While a fresh shot of wheatgrass is best, there are a few issues with this choice:
Shot of wheatgrass
  • This is only a good option if you live or work close to a store that offers it.
  • Be ready to fork out the cash, because an average one-ounce shot can cost $1.50 to $5.00, depending on where you live. This can add up quickly if your goal is to take it on a regular basis.
  • Be sure to ask if they are using organically grown wheatgrass. This is very important, because wheatgrass absorbs its nutritional value from the soil as it grows. It can also absorb fertilization and pest control chemicals from non-organic farming techniques.
Option 2 ‑ Juice it yourself
If you can get a tray of fresh wheatgrass still in its soil, you can juice it at home with a wheatgrass juicer. There are essentially two ways to get wheatgrass in its original grass form, rather than buying it juiced:
  • Grow your own wheatgrass. This is easily the cheapest way to get wheatgrass: buying it from seed and growing it yourself. Books are written on the subject, which tells you something: a lot goes into being a successful wheatgrass gardener. Growing enough to keep you supplied takes very little time, once you know what you're doing, but you do want to consider all that is involved. Consequently, this option is definitely not for everyone.
  • Buy wheatgrass from a store. Buying grown wheatgrass from a store is convenient, and is much cheaper than buying it juiced by the shot, but can still get expensive. The stores that sell squares (about 4" x 4") or palettes (about the size of a cafeteria tray) of wheatgrass vary from five dollars to as much as 15 dollars. I have found that a store will sometimes offer a price break if you buy more of it, or buy it regularly, so don’t forget to ask.
Sprouting wheatgrass
Growing your own wheatgrass is more cost-effective
Option 3 ‑ Buy powdered wheatgrass or wheatgrass tablets
Powdered wheatgrass or tableted wheatgrass is a convenient option for a busy lifestyle. Things to remember when buying powdered wheatgrass or tableted wheatgrass:
  • It’s worth getting if you are somewhere that you can’t get fresh, or are traveling. Freshly juiced wheatgrass is always your best option, but powdered is good to have in a pinch, and does offer the vitamin benefit even if it won't have the phytonutrient content of fresh wheatgrass.
  • Make certain the powdered wheatgrass or tablet wheatgrass was grown organically and in nutrient-rich soil, as opposed to just water (hydroponically grown wheatgrass). A nutrient-rich wheatgrass is dependent on nutrient-rich soil.
  • With the powdered wheatgrass or wheatgrass tablets, it is not only important to consider how it was grown, but also how it is processed. Low temperature drying or freeze dried are the only options that ensure you get the nutrient density a health conscious individual would want. Make sure it is not just chopped grass; unless you have four stomachs, you won’t be able to get the nutrients from it.
You can find lots of varieties and brands of powdered wheatgrass or wheatgrass tablets at a health food store or online.
Powdered wheatgrass
You can mix organic powdered freeze-dried wheatgrass into your favorite smoothie

What should I know about taking wheatgrass?

There are a few other things you should know in order to get the most bang for your buck, health-wise, when adding wheatgrass to your diet:
  • Wheatgrass juice has a very short shelf life; always drink wheatgrass juice as soon as possible after it's juiced, preferably within a few hours.
  • How much wheatgrass you should take, or can take, varies from person to person. There is a reason it is often served in shot-sized portions - wheatgrass juice is potent stuff! Start slow and discover your own tolerance. The healthier you are, the more you should be able to tolerate.
  • Taking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is ideal. This is especially true if you are drinking your wheatgrass freshly juiced. It is best for absorption and ideal if you are using it for detoxifying.
  • If you want to mix your wheatgrass juice into a smoothie, do it in small amounts. Wheatgrass has a strong flavor, and can affect the taste of the whole smoothie.
  • Chewing wheatgrass is not the best route to go. As humans, our bodies are unable to digest the fiber in the grass. If you do choose to chew the grass, it is highly recommended that, after you've extracted all the juice possible, you dispose of the leftover fiber by spitting it out rather than swallowing.
Wheatgrass and gluten allergies?
Good news: because wheatgrass is harvested before it becomes a grain, wheat allergies and gluten allergies are not an issue when taking wheatgrass juice. Allergies to wheatgrass are rare, but if you suspect you are having a reaction of any kind, you should cease from taking any more until you see your doctor.

You should now have enough information to start your own wheatgrass adventure. Enjoy the journey, and post your questions if you'd like to know more.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wheatgrass – What's so Super about This Superfood?

Wheatgrass - a nutrient-dense superfood
Those who regularly include wheatgrass in their diet cannot sing the praises of wheatgrass loudly enough. I’ve known many people who, from their personal experience with wheatgrass, describe this superfood as a miracle worker for their health. If you’ve known anyone regularly taking wheatgrass, or had any personal experience with this beautiful, young bright-green grass, you know what I’m talking about.

Many people find that wheatgrass gives them a lift … physically, mentally, and emotionally. Why else would those who find it “distasteful” continue its use? The almost instantaneous benefits they feel, of course!

Yes, many people do find the flavor of wheatgrass unpleasant. But, for the record, not everyone finds the juice distasteful; some find it sweet and love the flavor.

No matter what you’re feeling about the taste, if you’ve used it for any length of time, you can’t deny the advantages you receive from taking this nutrient-dense green on a regular basis. For those who haven’t given it a try, let me share with you the wonders of wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass is considered a “Superfood”

Health benefits of wheatgrass juice are multifaceted. Though more scientific research needs to be done to validate claims, the reasons those who regularly take wheatgrass do so range from enhancing physical appearance (as in reversing the number of gray hairs you have); to healing disease (which is now being proven in clinical studies); to increasing energy levels.

No matter what your reason for using it, wheatgrass has something to offer. Here are a few benefits you might find appealing enough to give it a try for yourself.

Wheatgrass is one of several superfoods that may benefit our health

Wheatgrass benefits

What makes “superfoods” so super is the measured impact that the ingredients can have on the whole being. Because of this, even though you may start taking wheatgrass for a particular health issue, wheatgrass’ impact can be a whole-body game changer in many ways. Its benefits:
  • Improves the blood’s ability to transport oxygen during exercise. This effect continues for about 10 minutes after exercise into your post workout recovery.
  • The antioxidant values of food are described as the ORAC value. The ORAC value for wheatgrass extract was found to be higher than that of many other vegetables or extracts. Antioxidants remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents in your body.
  • Wheatgrass extract absorbs free radicals and inhibits fat cells in rats.
  • Wheatgrass juice has been used clinically to treat ulcerative colitis and aid breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Many nutrition counselors use wheatgrass to treat anxiety and depression because the nutrient-dense grasses provide the building blocks to aid your body in producing its own serotonin (a hormone that contributes to your feelings of well-being and happiness).
  • Increases red blood cell count and lowers blood pressure.
  • Externally applied to the skin can help eliminate itching almost immediately.
  • Place a tray of wheatgrass you are growing at the head of your bed. It will release oxygen into the air and generate healthful negative ions to help you sleep more soundly.
  • Used as a beauty aid to slow down the aging process when the juice is consumed on a regular basis. Wheatgrass is reported to cleanse your blood and help rejuvenate aging cells, which also slows the aging process. It will help tighten loose and sagging skin.
I could continue with benefits that you could experience. The fact is, the body is a whole organism. When you positively affect one part, it is experienced throughout the entire system.

Nutrient Dense? To be or not to be…

Wheatgrass contains more than 90 minerals, including high concentrations of the most alkaline minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium. Wheatgrass also provides a concentrated amount of critical nutrients, including:
  • Chlorophyll
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Vitamins A, C, E, K and B-complex
  • Amino Acid
Wheatgrass is 70 percent chlorophyll. The health benefits of chlorophyll could be a full discussion in and of itself, but, long story short: chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants that it is similar in chemical structure to the hemoglobin that is found in human blood. Chlorophyll is considered by many to be as beneficial to humans as it is to plants.

Wheatgrass juice
Wheatgrass is usually consumed in juice form

What does wheatgrass have over your average vegetable?

Compared to many other vegetables, wheatgrass is like a sponge when it’s growing. When the wheatgrass is grown in nutrient rich organic soil, it will absorb 92 of the known 102 minerals from the soil. The fact that it can pull so many minerals from the soil is the primary reason juiced wheatgrass is so nutrient dense, and is a good reason to make it a part of your daily regimen.

Consuming wheatgrass

Since we do not have multiple stomachs like a cow, taking wheatgrass is not as straightforward as chewing and swallowing. Wheatgrass is usually consumed in juice form. You can grow and juice wheatgrass yourself, or may be able to get some juiced for you at a local health food store.
We will talk more in an upcoming article about wheatgrass recipes, as well as how to grow wheatgrass and how to juice wheatgrass. Stay tuned!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer