Healthy Greens: 10 of the Best Green Foods for Green Juice & Smoothies
By Ty Bollinger
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The late inventor Thomas Edison once stated, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” While such a prognosis has yet to fully materialize in today’s world, evidence is building that it just might be on the verge of going mainstream.
More and more people − many of them with the full support of their doctor − are now looking beyond just reacting to health problems with drugs and surgery. Instead, they’re proactively looking to adopt the type of healthy lifestyle that helps them avoid getting sick in the first place. For most people, this approach includes trying to eat better and exercise regularly.
But what does it mean to “eat better?” A good first step is to avoid consuming processed and fast foods that create disease, and instead eat more “green” foods that help keep disease at bay. The good news is there are all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and herbs to choose from in this green category. Each one with its own unique set of health benefits that have been validated both through science and historical account.
10 Top Healthy Greens
Many people find the easiest way to get their daily dose of healthy greens in is through juicing or blending them into smoothies. Here are 10 of my favorite healthy, nutrient-dense green foods that are top-notch additions to your green drinks, juice, or smoothies.
(A reminder that in order to receive the most cancer-fighting potential, you want your healthy greens to be organic/non-spray.)
#1 – Kiwifruit
With more vitamin C than an orange, the succulent, green flesh of the kiwifruit is brimming with disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help prevent aging, improve skin health, boost respiratory function, protect vision, and improve cardiovascular health, among many other functions. Studies show that the kiwifruit helps keep the organ where most of our immune system lives − the gut − in tip-top shape.
The only thing that’s better than eating the flesh of a kiwifruit it also eating its skin and seeds (from organic kiwifruit, of course) which is where you’ll find high levels of digestion-friendly fiber, protein, and other additional health-protecting compounds. This fuzzy flesh-protector is where much of the fiber and vitamin C in the kiwifruit is found. In fact, you can triple your fiber intake when eating kiwifruit by consuming it with the skin!
#2 – Kale
These stalks of leafy green goodness are a powerhouse of vitamins A, C, and K. Being a cruciferous vegetable, kale is naturally a powerful cancer-fighting food that studies have shown can help improve detoxification, support heart health, and inhibit the formation and spread of malignant cancer cells. Technically a wild form of cabbage, kale is also notably anti-inflammatory, helping to protect the body against harmful bacteria and viruses.
#3 – Spinach
It kept Popeye strong and it can do the same for you! Once known as the “Spanish vegetable” in Great Britain, spinach has a rich history of use all throughout the world, and for good reason. It’s packed with B vitamins, vitamins A, C, E, and K, trace minerals like copper and magnesium, and so much more. Spinach is also a powerful antioxidant food that helps to keep cholesterol from oxidizing in your blood vessels, helping to improve circulation while promoting a healthy heart.
#4 – Watercress
Another varietal of leafy green, watercress is a culinary delight that tastes great in soups, salads, and sandwiches. It’s technically a healing herb that contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals (at least!), and many other compounds at quantities much higher than that of a typical vegetable. For instance, watercress contains more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, and more vitamin C than an orange. It also contains a treasure trove of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and other “super” nutrients that help protect the body against chronic disease, including cancer.
Watercress is perhaps most known in the “superfood” world for its high levels of vitamin K, which helps protect the brain against neurodegeneration, as well as strengthen bones and prevent heart disease. Studies suggest that watercress is a powerful anti-aging food that can help people live longer lives with improved quality of life. Many people have never tried watercress, so give it a try and add it to your healthy greens shopping list!
#5 – Parsley
This popular food garnish is, in many ways, healthier than many of the dinner plates upon which it’s presented. A powerful chelating herb, parsley is recognized for its ability to draw out toxic heavy metals and expel them from the body. It’s also an incredible anti-cancer food, rich in flavonoids like myricetin and apigenin that research show help deter cancer cells and tumors. Parsley has also been scientifically shown to help strength the cellular matrices of bones, as well as balance blood sugar levels to prevent the deadly “D” disease known as diabetes.
#6 – Broccoli
Another fiber-rich cruciferous vegetable in the same family of greens as kale, broccoli is an incredible anti-cancer superfood of the highest order. It contains high levels of a chemoprotective substance known as sulforaphane that’s been the focus of extensive cancer research as of late. A famous study out of Johns Hopkins University, for instance, found that broccoli, and broccoli sprouts in particular, contain such high levels of sulforaphane that consuming this delicious green food regularly can help significantly reduce your cancer risk.
Sulforaphane has likewise been shown to inhibit an enzyme known as histone deacetylase, or HDAC, that’s directly involved in promoting the spread of cancer cells. By eating broccoli as part of a routine diet, you can help prevent the risk of prostate, pancreatic, esophageal, and many other types of cancer. Not only that, broccoli contains many other anti-cancer nutrients like folate, phosphorus, choline, potassium, and copper that further ward off many forms of this harrowing disease.
#7 – Collard Greens
This favorite of southern cuisine is another cruciferous wonder. It’s chock full of protein, fiber, and other key nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that help lubricate joints and shore up brain function. Collard greens also contain sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates that not only help detoxify the body, but also protect it against pathogenic invaders. Indole-3-carbinol is another healing compound in collard greens that further helps to fortify the body’s defenses against cancer.
#8 – Kelp
A popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, this seaweed varietal is a rich source of vitamins and trace minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, amino acids, omega-3s, fiber, and perhaps most significant of all − iodine. I say this because iodine is tough to find in substantial quantities in most common foods, but it’s abundant in plants from the sea. This is good news not only for your thyroid gland, which regulates hormone production, but also your central nervous system at large.
Iodine is also essential for brain development and proper functionality of the pituitary, as well as the body’s other important glandular systems. Iodine also plays a critical role in cancer prevention, as a cohort of scientific evidence suggests that iodine deficiency is directly correlated with increased cancer progression, and particularly cancers of the breast.
#9 – Celery
Crunchy and mostly made of water, celery might not seem like anything out of the ordinary − but don’t be fooled! Besides its rich fiber content, which is really good for the gut, celery is packed with electrolyte compounds that help keep the body hydrated, as well as enzymes that help keep it nourished and clean. Then there are the antioxidants, phytonutrients, and other nutrient compounds that help protect vital organs, vision, and virility, among other things.
Everything from clearing the arteries to quelling inflammation to protecting against cancer is on celery’s resume of health benefits. Truth be told, there’s very little that celery can’t do when it comes to promoting health, it turns out, which is why it ranks on this list of healthy greens.
#10 – Aloe Vera
This spiny desert plant is known for its ability to soothe the skin that’s been overexposed to the sun. But aloe vera is good for so much more than just a sunburn salve, as it serves as a powerful remedy for upset stomach, constipation, and various gastrointestinal disorders. This due to its soothing anti-inflammatory and gentle laxative properties. Aloe vera also contains significant quantities of enzymes that help to improve food digestion, boost immunity, and create homeostatic balance throughout the body
A published article by Joe Sweeney
Why won’t my shoulder pain go away?
By Joseph Sweeney, CMT, BCTMB, ABMP
If you’re anything like the average Joe, you work hard during the week usually performing rigorous or repetitive tasks such as hammering or heavy lifting, typing or even repetitive mouse clicking. Then you come home and relax by sinking into the couch and doing nothing for ten minutes to several hours. Follow that up with spending the weekend performing more rigorous, repetitive tasks such as gardening, laundry or a larger ongoing project like painting the bedroom walls. Or perhaps you use the weekends to play and go skiing or rock climbing.
Then you notice that your shoulder hurts when putting on your shirt or closing a door....or worse, you ache all over, can't sleep at night, hard to lie on your side, can't lift your arm overhead.
You’re not alone. What you are probably experiencing is tendonitis in one or more of the shoulder muscles, which is quite common and can take a long time to heal on it's own or could eventually even turn into a frozen shoulder…….but there is help!
Your shoulders are incredibly flexible joints that allow your arms to move through a large range of motion. They are used in almost every activity and they take a lot of punishment on a daily basis. As a result, they are prone to a wide range of injuries that can cause pain and limit your range of motion. Normally the body is able to heal itself quite well during sleep. Unfortunately the average American is so busy with work, chores, bills, errands etc. that when it’s time to sleep we just stare at the ceiling and think about tomorrow which only keeps us awake and creates more stress and less healing. Many times these injuries are simply caused by wear and tear. For example, a common injury is tendonitis of one of the rotator cuff muscles called the Infraspinatus. This is a small triangular muscle located on the back of the shoulder blade. It covers the lower portion of the scapula and its tendon attaches to the back side of the humerus (large bone of upper arm). Like the other muscles of the rotator cuff, the Infraspinatus is weaker than the surrounding muscles due to its poor mechanical advantage which makes it more susceptible to injury. Through poor posture and/or repetitive overuse such as, reaching behind you into the back seat of your car and lifting a heavy object, swinging a tennis racquet or hastily pulling off your jacket, the tendon develops micro tears and becomes inflamed and painful. The resulting pain can lead to overcompensation from other muscles in the body which leads to chronically tightened muscles and trigger points.
Trigger points are small knots in the muscle tissue that are very common around the shoulder and can refer pain and tenderness into the muscles or joints. The referred pain can mimic other shoulder problems and can feel as if the injury is actually in a completely different area or muscle.
The reason it takes so long to heal:
Without being treated tendonitis can take several months or even years to heal and even then you may not get back your full range of motion. This is due to, as mentioned before, overcompensation of other muscles in an effort to prevent further injury and pain, which can cause chronic tightening of these muscles and can eventually lead to more severe conditions such as adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder.
No there isn’t a miracle drug or cream or instant treatment that will make this injury disappear overnight. Chances are it took several years to get to this point and unfortunately it’s going to take some time and a personal commitment to your own healing to reverse it.
Do I need surgery?
I am happy to say NO, you may not need surgery!
If your massage therapist is a skilled neuromuscular therapist and you are willing to be proactive with your own healing you can expect at least a 90% recovery in as little as six weeks without surgery, injections or drugs.
You will need to locate the exact muscle and tendon in need of repair. Your therapist can help you with this by performing a few resisted range-of-motion tests.
The next step is to release the trigger points in the muscle tissue; this will almost immediately relieve some of the pain in the shoulder and possibly in the back and neck as well.
Next it will be necessary to properly palpate the injured portion of the tendon, usually the most tender part, and friction the area using focused cross fiber strokes (this is known as cross fiber friction or deep transverse friction) designed to break down scar tissue and reestablish blood flow, followed by stretching the target muscle.
Finally the muscle must be restrengthened using light weights and/or elastic bands such as a Theraband.
It should be noted here that there are other types of shoulder injuries that deserve special consideration such as sprains and dislocations which typically result from falls. It's natural to reach your arm out to catch yourself when falling, but the impact can strain or tear the shoulder ligaments. If the impact is severe enough, the humerus may be knocked right out of the socket and the shoulder can become dislocated. With a severe trauma, the bones may actually fracture or break. When this is the case the arm needs to be immobilized and a proper diagnosis by a physician will be required.
Sometimes the only option is surgery. The best medicine in this case is prevention. As soon as you develop any pain or discomfort in your shoulder, see your massage therapist or other health care practitioner immediately for assessment and treatment. Don't risk getting this serious and debilitating shoulder condition.
Joseph Sweeney is a nationally certified orthopedic massage therapist who currently holds a level two certification in advanced myoskeletal alignment techniques. He specializes in frozen shoulders and other sports related injuries. He runs a highly successful practice in Louisville, Colorado.