When people talk about “green foods”, most people automatically think of spinach or kale. Others might lean more towards the idea of sea vegetables, such as spirulina or chlorella. However, did you know that prairie grasses fall into this superfood category as well? They have a nutrient profile similar to dark leafy vegetables and are also considered alkalizing, nutrient-rich, complete whole foods!
So what is a prairie grass exactly? Holistic pharmacist, Rosemarie Pierce explains that they are the young green plant stages of cereal grasses. Therefore, they are not a grain as the plant has not yet matured. Examples include barley grass, wheat grass, alfalfa and oat grass.
Rosemarie adds that prairie grasses contain important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, amino acids, certain enzymes, phytonutrients, antioxidants and fibre! These ingredients help to protect cells from free radical damage, neutralize toxins, deodorize bad breathe and gas, correct nutritional deficiencies, support immunity, help repair the digestive tract and provide sustained energy while mineralizing and alkalizing the body.
Therefore, prairie grasses are ideal for anyone with respiratory conditions, cold and flus, anemia, skin disorders, digestive issues or just looking to improve overall health. They work to detoxify, support immunity, improve digestion, alkalize and boost energy and stamina!
Let’s look at some of these ingredients in detail:
ENERGIZING: Wheat Grass
This is an exceptional, alkalizing super food that can be used daily to provide key nutrients. Wheat grass contains antioxidants (such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin), fibre, Vitamins C, K, A, E and B vitamins (including folic acid and biotin), as well as minerals like calcium, iron, selenium, manganese, potassium and zinc. It contains 20 amino acids and has roughly 30% protein and 30% fibre. Wheat grass has been said to support bowel health and may help to reduce colitis. Due to its high levels of chlorophyll (green pigment), it is known as a potent detoxifier and powerful energizer. It gently cleanses the liver and blood while supporting metabolism and thyroid function. Wheat grass provides easy nutrition that can be used as an energy boosting substitute for stimulants like coffee.
ANTI-AGING: Barley Grass
This is the young, green version of the barley grain. Containing even more nutrients than wheatgrass, it is loaded with 20 amino acids and phytonutrients such as beta-carotene and chlorophyll. Barley grass has antioxidant, anti-aging, energizing, mineralizing, cleansing and anti-cholesterol properties. Since barley grass is associated with an alkaline effect on the body, it can help counter acidic foods and optimize pH balance. It has also been used to reduce pain and inflammation. It is high in vitamins A, C, K, and B-vitamins in addition to zinc, potassium, manganese, calcium and iron. Barley grass has approximately 30% protein and 40% fibre. It also contains the SOD (superoxide dismutase) enzyme, which converts hydrogen peroxide into oxygen, helping to reduce inflammation and prevent the physical signs of aging.
BRAIN HEALTH: Oat Grass
Oat grass is used to help cleanse major organs and has up to 30% protein as amino acids. It is rich in chlorophyll and loaded with iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B5 and potassium. It also provides fibre, the SOD enzyme and lecithin. Lecithin is an essential fat and good source of choline, which supports the brain, nerve function and liver health. It is a building block of brain cell membranes and a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a brain chemical involved in both memory and cognitive function. Oat grass is said to help nourish and strengthen the nervous system.
LIVER SUPPORT: Alfalfa
Alfalfa is high in various antioxidants, protein, as well as exceptionally rich in chlorophyll. It is a source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, silicon, and other trace minerals as well as a broad range of vitamins. It has deep roots that can extract nutrients from the soil. In fact, all parts of this plant can be used for their health benefits. Alfalfa contains 8 essential amino acids. It is known to be a nutritive tonic due to its rich nutrient content and has been used in cases of malnutrition, stomach problems (i.e. indigestion), constipation and prolonged illness. Alfalfa also contains specific phytonutrients that may support hormone-balancing and has been used by women to reduce menopausal symptoms. Some sources also suggest it may help reduce cholesterol levels. A potent ingredient for liver support, it alkalizes and detoxifies the body in addition to protecting cells with its antioxidant capabilities. Alfalfa also acts as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal.
Look for organic, fermented ingredients for enhanced bioavailability. The fermentation process unlocks nutrients held inside plant fibre walls and promotes the production of friendly gut microbes. Prairie grasses in the form of an instant, ready-to-use powder makes for an easy addition to smoothies, dressings, sauces and home-made snack bars!
-This column is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach –