The Little Salad Shop, a new restaurant serving delicious salads and fresh vegetables on campus, is setting the trend right this semester: eat green food.
The owner, Tiffany Ho ’12, clearly understands that eating right is one of the most important ways to ensure success at school; green-colored foods are one of the best ways to get your fix of Mother Nature’s healing properties. They all contain chlorophyll, a chemical that prevents bacterial disease and reduces bad breath. But chlorophyll is only one of many nutrients found in greens; they contain minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, with a number of other remarkable health benefits.
Poopdeck Pappy said in the 1980s comic Popeye, “Spinach is what kept our family strong for thousands of years.” Pappy wasn’t far off the mark. Spinach has strengthening, panacea-like capabilities and the leaves of this food contain a whopping 11 vitamins, while also preventing skin and breast cancer. Spinach is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which lower bad cholesterol to prevent heart disease and improve body functions. Kale is a similar leafy vegetable with an extraordinary concentration of nutrients and antioxidants. This plant has been shown to protect the body against degenerative diseases, neutralize acidic foods and toxins, and support the immune system. Just as Popeye warded off bullets and alien weapons by ingesting spinach, we can become invulnerable to threats like cancer and heart failure by eating our greens.
If gnawing on some leafy greens does not appeal, you will be pleased to know that whole raw vegetables isn’t the only way to go green. Young cereal grass is a green food with an even greater concentration of nutrients and minerals than the leafy greens do. You can indulge in the dried or powdered forms of wheat and barley grass and still get anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Sprouts are another young plant with an excellent nutrient profile. Like the cereal grasses, they contain high levels of chlorophyll, protein, vitamins and cellulose (an ingestible fiber).
One unique place to harvest your healthy greens is under the sea. The seaweed varieties you can eat together comprise all 56 minerals and trace minerals necessary for human health. Arame is one type that contains calcium, iron, protein and dietary fiber. And for the vegetarians out there, it is great to know that seaweed is one of the few plants that contain vitamin B12. Sebastian sang the truth in “The Little Mermaid” — they really are, “in luck here, down in the muck here, under the sea.”
Another ocean foliage is blue-green algae like chlorella and spirulina. These are single-celled plants that stash protein, chlorophyll, carotenoid antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and disease-preventive phytonutrients. These algae can prevent cancer, viruses and tumor growth, and they bind to toxins to eliminate them from the body. By sprinkling just a teaspoon of these powders into your diet, you can diminish hay fever, protect your liver, reduce blood pressure, boost your immune system and protect your intestinal lining. What’s more, spirulina provides gamma linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that stimulates skin and hair growth, maintains bone health, regulates metabolism and maintains the reproductive system. The human body does not produce this essential fatty acid, and it is rarely found in the American diet. Luckily, however, we can eat foods like spirulina to get our daily requirement of it.
One last thing: in order to really go green, you should buy all of these ingredients locally. You will not only be doing a favor to small businesses, but also to your body because these foods have traveled shorter distances and have lost fewer nutrients over time. It’s time to make your Yale dining experience even more environmentally conscious, so get ecocentric and be blessed with these superfoods.
Rebecca Stern is a senior in Berkeley College.