Eat Your Greens

Dr. Joel Ying, MD

Physician, Educator, Storyteller. He hosts this website for "Living the Present Moment" as a conscious journey of Body, Mind, Emotion & Spirit. Holistic and integrative, his practice includes Tai Chi and Yoga, Craniosacral Therapy, Healing From the Core, Meditation. Always exploring his edges, he shares them in the blog, newsletter, courses, and online study group.

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Eat your greens!
Yuck! It’s pond scum.
It’s dark blue-green spiral-shaped algae, harvested from lakes in warm climates, and a nutrient-dense superfood!
Yuck! It’s pond scum.
It’s good for you. It’s spirulina.

When I was growing up, one of my cousins (who shall remain nameless, but you know who you are!) … she would not eat anything green. Not green vegetables, not green drinks, and certainly not green eggs and ham. One summer, the family had gathered for a reunion. My parents made green penne pasta. It happened to be on sale, so we had a lot of it. Well, it was green, and she would have none of it. “Yuck!” she said. “But it just tastes like pasta,” I said. “Yuck!” she said. And that was that.

Recently, now with her own kids, she came to visit. We went out to dinner, and I nearly fell off my chair when she ordered a salad. “But it’s green,” I said. She just smiled at me. “She’s not really going to eat that,” I thought to myself. Each time, she took a bite, I realized … with a little shock … I just don’t know you anymore. Who are you? Did you eat my cousin? … and now you are suffering from a green deficit? I’m still in shock just thinking about it. My mind could not wrap itself around this impossibility, but there it was. It’s true. Being grown up means eating your greens.

Eating Healthy

If you want to be present mentally and emotionally, you have to take care of yourself physically. Eat healthy, sleep regularly, and exercise. Today, there are conflicting opinions on eating healthy. There are also several different “superfoods” packed with antioxidants and nutrients. As the greenest of them all, spirulina might not be my cousin’s first choice.


The Aztecs and some groups in Africa have used it as a staple in their diet. In 1974, the World Food Conference declared spirulina a food of the future to help fight malnutrition because it is so dense with protein (50-70% protein by weight). It is densely packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. NASA astronauts made it famous by taking it into space. The pronounced blue-green color is from phycocyanin, a pigment and the main antioxidant.

Studies show that it helps us detoxify heavy metals, fight allergies with anti-histamine properties, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, high in antioxidants, boosts immunity, anti-inflammatory properties, improves strength and endurance for athletes, promotes healthy bacteria in the gut, controls Candida overgrowth. High in iron. Good source of iodine. More calcium than milk. Rich in most B vitamins, but NOT a source of B12. Today, this blue-green algae is a popular superfood.

The dosage is 1 – 2 teaspoons per day. You don’t need much of this potent powdered superfood.

“It just tastes green!”

Many people will take it in their  smoothies to hide the taste. Some prefer capsules because … well … pond scum tastes like pond scum. As my cousin would say when asked why she did not eat anything green, “It just tastes green!” If you are wondering what green tastes like, try spirulina.

You might like it. As with all things, see how you feel after taking it. Try it for a couple weeks, and decide for yourself. There is nothing that is “for everyone.” (My cousin will agree.) Luckily, there are lots of superfoods out there, put it in your rotation, but remember … there is nothing that will replace a healthy diet.